Irish-led team to release rapid Covid-19 test with €930,000 EU backing

20 May 2020

Image: © bizoo_n/

A research group led by Dublin-based HiberGene has developed a Covid-19 test that can provide a positive result in 30 minutes.

In January, the EU called for applicants to an emergency fund worth €48.2m under Horizon 2020 to tackle Covid-19. Now, one of the first 18 projects backed has been approved for release.

Researchers developing the HG nCoV19 test have confirmed that they obtained CE marking approval to put the new point-of-care diagnostic for Covid-19 on the market. The portable device was developed to accurately detect a positive viral infection within 30 minutes and have a negative result returned within an hour.

It uses a low-complexity sample preparation method, capable of giving results for samples with high to moderate viral loads. This, the group said, enables rapid diagnosis of the disease at the early and highly infectious stage.

The research group was led by Irish company HiberGene, and also included IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino in Italy, Queen’s University Belfast and Medcaptain Medical Technologies in China.

The EU contributed €930,000 to the project, which has been underway since the middle of February.

Answering the call

Mariya Gabriel, the EU’s commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, said this was a “great example of EU research in action”.

“I am encouraged to see that these researchers have risen to the challenge, developed this new diagnostic system so fast, and delivered on one of the aims of our first emergency call,” she said.

“It’s crucial to diagnose coronavirus more quickly and more accurately, as it reduces the risk of further spread of the virus.”

HiberGene’s CEO, Seamus Gorman, added: “The test is suitable for both decentralised facilities requiring rapid molecular tests for screening and centralised labs requiring additional tests for confirmation or out-of-hours testing. The support of the EU through the Horizon 2020 programme has been instrumental in delivering this project.”

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, commended the team for receiving approval, saying that Dublin-based HiberGene is “answering the call and stepping up to the plate in our national and global effort to defeat Covid-19”.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic