Wanted by DHS: technology able to test bio-threats in the field

DHS wants a viable portable biological identifier to test samples in the field. | Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security is seeking innovative ideas from individuals or companies that are in the process of developing products capable of identifying biological agents, the agency said Tuesday.

The DHS BioWatch program looks to detect biological agents in an expedient manner and aims to enhance its abilities to quickly identify possible bioterrorism threats. The department is looking for “mature or developing technologies” from companies or other sources that can produce “a cost-effective, portable biological identifier” for the BioWatch program.

The device could work through either surface or aerosol samples taken from the specific site where the biological agent is located. The department is looking for devices that are able to detect multiple biological agents simultaneously with a high degree of confidence and a low amount of false positives or negatives.

Additionally, the biological identifier should be able to analyze several samples within an hour, then electronically transfer information found on-site. The device should be portable, easy to set up, lightweight and sophisticated enough so that a single person would be capable of performing tests and analysis.

Currently, the BioWatch program takes aerosol samples to a laboratory for analysis. The department said technologies that fit the above description could be at a mature level, meaning it will take one to three years for development, mid-term level, which is three to five years, or need long-term enhancements, which would need five to 10 years of development.

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U.S. Department of Homeland Security 12th St SW Washington, DC 20024

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