DETECTED-X no signs of COVID-19

Sydney wins top two spots in NSW Government innovation challenge

15 December 2020
University of Sydney recognised for COVID-19 solutions

The University of Sydney innovations led by spin-off DetectED-X has won the NSW Government's R&D Innovation Districts Challenges focused on tackling the pandemic, taking the lion's share of seed funding for product development.


University of Sydney spin-off DetectED-X, which recently launched a COVID-19 lung CT platform for treatment scale-up, along with anti-viral air filtration personal device VBreathe, have together won the two biggest grants from the NSW Government’s R&D Innovation Districts Challenges, which aims to help translate ideas into real-world impact.

Collaboration between universities, CSIRO and local businesses will help bring new products to market that help to address the challenges of COVID-19. More than 110 businesses have applied to be part of the NSW Government’s R&D Innovation Districts Challenges, vying for a share in $500,000 of seed funding.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres and Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee made the announcement today.


DetecteED-X CEO Professor Patrick Brennan. Top of page, an image from a lung CT with no signs of COVID-19, from the the training platform.

Minister Ayres said the challenges were designed to find research and development solutions to health and wellbeing impacts as a result of the pandemic. “We’ve seen an opportunity to help stimulate the economy, support businesses and drive innovation right across the state… it’s great to see collaborations from innovation districts across the state share in the funding,” he said.

“Innovation district partners worked with businesses to hone their applications for the state finals of the first challenge which called for R&D solutions to the health and wellbeing impacts of COVID-19 on the people of New South Wales.

“Thirty-five finalists were evaluated by NSW Treasury and a panel of experts from NSW Health, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Grant recipients

  • $250,000 to DetectED-X lung scan AI diagnosis and education, led by Professor Patrick Brenan in the School of Health Sciences.
  • $100,000 to VBreathe anti-viral air filtration personal device to Professor Paul Young, in the School of Medical Sciences.
  • Others: $30,000 to EcoAid BioTech biodegradable, anti-viral coating spray; $10,000 to local winners: COVIU Global, Birth Beat, All Metal Products, Criticalarc, Colan Products, YourLink, Energisim, Pen CS, Moove & Groove, Halo Medical Devices, We Are Explorers, The Ripper Group. 

The University of Sydney award-winning spin-off DetectED-X launched the cloud-based CovED for free this year - a training platform in identifying the coronavirus in lung CT scans. It later attracted $1.04m funding from the federal government and is now in 150 countries.

Ms Rupal Ismin, director of the University’s Sydney Knowledge Hub, which facilitated the Challenge for the University of Sydney Innovation District, said: “We are thrilled for DetectED-X; they have been a member of the Sydney Knowledge Hub for over a year - which means they operate their business out of the space - and we have helped their business grow by connecting them to students, potential collaborators, and business consultants who are now part of their team. 

“It’s wonderful to see this spin-out of the University continuing to work on campus.”

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee today said the Innovation Districts Challenge recognises the benefits that collaborations with universities, the CSIRO and local businesses can bring to NSW.

“Through the Challenge, we’re supporting universities that are some of the leading organisations in adaption but have also really felt the brunt of international border closures.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the innovation challenges were an example of how small-to-medium enterprises and researchers can collaborate more often, which is at the heart of the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council’s new report, Let’s Collaborate, released today.

“Doubling our current rates of collaboration could see a productivity increase worth $150 million per year for New South Wales,” Mr Perrottet said.

University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison said the pandemic highlighted the transformative nature of close collaboration between universities and industry. “Industry engagement plays a crucial role in commercialising research and this has never been more true – the pandemic presents a monumental challenge but our university community has risen to the challenge,” Professor Ivison said.

Professor Robyn Ward, the University of Sydney’s Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Medicine and Health, said: “Congratulations to DetectED-X and VBreathe for leading the Innovation Districts Challenges, and to all researchers at Sydney and beyond who are working on tackling COVID-19 and preventing future pandemics.”


Vivienne Reiner

Media and PR Adviser (Health & Science)
  • Integrated Sustainability Analysis,

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