Covid-19 test team wins Universities Alliance award

Emma Jeroen Ali.jpg

A rapid Covid-19 detection test developed by a team of experts at the University of South Wales (USW) has been recognised in the University Alliance (UA) Awards 2021.

The team behind the system - Dr Jeroen Nieuwland, Dr Emma Hayhurst, and Dr Ali Roula – were joint winners of The Innovation Award, sharing the accolade with a team from Kingston University.

The test was developed within weeks of the outbreak of the pandemic, when the team adapted their LAMP approach, which was designed for detecting urinary tract infections (UTIs), to identifying the Covid-19  virus.

After successful bids to the Welsh Government for resources to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the test, together with a partnership with a local engineering design company to produce a manufacturable a point-of-care LAMP device from an earlier prototype, the device has been manufactured in small numbers and demonstrated in the field as an effective test for the Covid-19  virus.

Its advantages are its ease of use, speed and effectiveness, and its ability to work without the need for laboratory processing. In partnership with the University, the team has created a spin-out company called Llusern Scientific Ltd to commercialise the test and the device for Covid-19 and other viruses.

Following the award, Dr Nieuwland said: "We are thrilled to have won the Innovation Award. We started the project because we thought our prototype urinary tract infection test could be adapted into a fast and accurate molecular Covid-19 test.

“It was a huge collaborative effort within USW and with external partners, including our local health board, industry, and government, which allowed us to develop, test and CE mark our next generation Covid-19 test.

“We are now developing other tests that can run on the same device."

University Alliance CEO Vanessa Wilson commented that all finalists truly represent the talent, work ethic, and success found in the UK’s professional and technical universities.

“The last year has not been without its challenges, but Alliance universities have been at the forefront of navigating and supporting their institutions and communities through these difficulties, and it is wonderful to be able to celebrate the hard work and dedication of colleagues from across the Alliance at our awards today,” she said.

“The way our universities have come together during the pandemic has demonstrated the best of our Alliance, and the strength of our collective. I am truly honoured to be the CEO of such an inspiring group of institutions.

“I am pleased that through these awards we can recognise those individuals and teams who have gone the extra mile and demonstrated those behaviours and values that we as a group of universities feel are important.

“We received more than 100 nominations from across our universities; from the estates teams to senior leaders, Post Graduate Researchers to the student unions – it was inspiring to hear about all the fantastic work happening across the Alliance, and I know the judges had a difficult task in picking the winners.”

“I congratulate and commend all those shortlisted and look forward to seeing how all the nominated individuals, projects and teams continue to deliver impact for the communities they serve beyond the Alliance Awards 2021.”

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