Government signs contract with Belgian specialist firm UgenTec
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The government has invested more than £1m in a software tool that will help the NHS Test and Trace programme perform diagnostic analysis of data on PCR coronavirus tests.
Newly published procurement documents reveal that the Department of Health and Social Care has signed a one-year contract with specialist lab software firm UgenTec. The deal came into effect on 16 July and will be worth £1.3m to the company, which is based in the city of Hasselt in Belgium’s Flemish region. The government has the option to extend the contract beyond its initial term for two additional periods of 12 months.
The tech firm will provide software that will assist in the mass analysis of the results of polymerase chain reaction – commonly known as PCR – tests for coronavirus. NHS test centres all offer PCR tests, which are also available to citizens via post. The results, which typically take one or two days to process, are seen as more reliable those from than quickfire lateral flow device tests.
“As part of HM Government’s emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the [DHSC] has a requirement for… software and support services to support diagnostic interpretation of [PCR] data created by diagnostic facilities,” the contract said. “The supplier is a provider of results analysis software and support services and has experience in delivering these services to major organisations.”
The deal covers only the use of UgenTec’s software for the purposes related to the diagnosis of Covid-19 but the government can make a “change request… to repurpose the modules for different diagnostic capabilities, [such as] common flu”. Any such changes may be priced differently, the contract said.
UgenTec, which has provided its technology to a number of hospitals and public-health agencies over the course of the pandemic, claims that its diagnostic software provides “artificially intelligent algorithms that automatically and accurately call PCR curves and cluster plots”.
The company, which was founded in 2014, also offers tools to support veterinarians and those working in the field of agricultural economics.