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Jakarta Post

Indonesian start-up to make COVID-19 test kits

  • Eisya A. Eloksari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 27, 2020   /   01:48 pm
Indonesian start-up to make COVID-19 test kits A clinical pathologist at Surabaya’s Agriculture Quarantine Center conducts a laboratory test on samples of patients suspected to have been infected with the novel coronavirus. The fight against the virus requires cooperation across various disciplines. (Antara/Umarul Faruq)

An Indonesia-based start-up, Nusantics, is reportedly preparing to make 100,000 COVID-19 test kits. A prototype will be complete within three weeks, an investor says.

Willson Cuaca, co-founder and managing partner at East Venture, said Nusantics had been appointed by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) to make the test kits based on samples from Indonesian nationals.

East Venture, the most active early-stage venture capital firm in Indonesia, provided an undisclosed amount of seed money to the start-up on March 20 to support production.

“Nusantics will create the test kits based on samples from Indonesia because the virus can mutate when it finds a new host,” Willson told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

Read also: As contagion spreads, Indonesia focuses COVID-19 tests in three worst-hit provinces

Willson added that 1,000 prototypes were expected to be finished in two weeks and would then be tested on patients. Once the kits were proven successful, the first 20,000 kits would be distributed within a month.

“Right now, it is difficult to get tested for the coronavirus as it keeps spreading throughout the nation,” Willson said. “That is why we want to help the start-up achieve this goal.”

East Ventures will lead crowdfunding with a target of Rp 10 billion (US$ 620,155) to produce the test kits and finance the whole genome sequencing project. The public can join by accessing to donate money or equipment starting March 30.

Nusantics is a technology company established in 2019 that focuses on applying advancements in genomics and microbiome research. Microbiomes are complex ecosystems of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that live on and inside every living thing.

“The technology that Nusantics uses in skin microbiome analysis is similar to technology used to detect COVID-19 and our team also has the experience in medical test kits and bioinformatics,” said Nusantics CEO Sharlini Eriza Putri in a written statement on Friday.

In addition to Nusantics, East Ventures’ known investments range from e-commerce platform Tokopedia and online travel agent Traveloka, to wedding organizing platform Bride Story and media platforms Kata Data and Tech in Asia.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include a statement from Nusantics and details on crowdfunding plans.