Behind the scenes: Fast-tracking new remote temperature device to support the COVID-19 fight

You may have seen it in the news: a group of Auckland Tech entrepreneurs have banded together, in partnership with the University of Auckland’s Department of Exercise Science and Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence, and have been awarded funding to conduct clinical trials for their new solution with potential to help the COVID-19 fight.

The idea is a temperature-reading biosensor called ‘Nightingale’, designed to protect those most at risk from COVID-19 through automated temperature reading by enabling mass monitoring at a distance. Conceived under lockdown, the company Nightingale was officially incorporated a little more than a week ago, and the Intellectual Property (IP) – involving complex background IP – was secured with similar speed. In parallel, a proposal was developed and successfully awarded for funding of $264,124 from MBIE’s COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund for clinical research to trial Nightingale.

Behind the scenes, UniServices Business Development Manager Josh Alden brought “the business side of the equation” to assist project lead scientist Associate Professor Nick Gant in Nightingale’s successful progression. Josh explains that his role is to support the researchers, who are the heart and engine of the University of Auckland, in bringing their work to deliver impact to our communities: “And at the moment, the value of projects to benefit and protect the community are extremely important in a COVID-19 environment.

“My role was to support the proposal’s development, from scoping the size of the project, who will be involved (being the multiple partners, suppliers, rest-homes), and getting buy-in from the partners to be involved in the University-led programme to ensure we can deliver the most impact on the project. I also worked with Nick on the Intellectual Property position.

“Being able to support Nick and the researchers was a real privilege. There is no question this project will deliver rapid impact against a global pandemic and potentially limit the spread of Covid-19.”

What happens next?

Josh and Aimee Carr, UniServices Contracts and Growth Manager, are now working closely with Nick to formalise arrangements which includes the contract with MBIE, and supplier agreements with the external partners that detail how the clinical trial will be conducted.

All going well, in four months’ time there will be a ready-to-go device that can be used by our healthcare workforce as part of the toolkit to combat COVID-19.

Can we help you?

Josh’s final words are for the University of Auckland’s entrepreneurs and researchers with solutions to the problems we see around us: “Share your ideas with UniServices, we can and want to help you collaborate, to find industry connections, and work with you and Government to help best position your idea for the external market. We can help strategise, ideate, manage IP, or plan the next steps with your ideas. We want to work with you to help you maximise the impact your research can deliver to Aotearoa and the world.”