ViQi, Inc. awarded a National Science Foundation grant SBIR Phase II: Machine learning for Rapid Automated Viral Infectivity Assays

ViQi Inc, a California image analysis company specializing in enabling the use of artificial intelligence in the scientific discovery process, announced today the confirmation of Phase II National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to further optimize their cloud analysis solution applying machine learning to automate viral infectivity assays, significantly reducing the time required for these assays.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., April 21, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Development of viral vaccines and antiviral drugs requires viral infectivity assays, however, the incubation periods of plaque and TCID50 assays can be as long as 14 days, and the alternatives like focus forming assay (FFA) require antibodies and extensive sample preparation or developing GFP-labeled viruses which is not always possible or desirable. This automated viral infectivity assay is based on brightfield microscopy, not requiring any stains or labels. A one time calibration of the machine learning model on a specific combination of virus, cell line, and imager is required to detect phenotypic changes associated with early stages of active virus infection in cells before being humanly visible. Detection can be done within hours (same-day) for fast-acting viruses or in as long as two days for viruses that take up to two weeks to develop infections detectable by conventional means. Not only will this assay significantly reduce the turn-around time and processing steps required, it can also be completely automated with conventional equipment used for high-content screening.

“We were extremely excited, along with our collaborators, that for each virus we have tried so far, we have been able to train and accurately quantify viral infectivity using this assay. Eight virus types tested include DNA, RNA, enveloped, and non-enveloped viruses, as well as viruses that do not reliably result in detectable cytopathic effects, such as HIV and Adenovirus. This new 1 million dollar grant will allow us to further optimize our cloud based solution and make it available to any lab working on applications such as vaccines, antivirals, viral clearance testing, viral gene therapy, oncolytic therapies, and potentially even diagnostics.” commented Dr. Ilya Goldberg, ViQi’s Chief Science Officer.

About ViQi, Inc.
Based in Santa Barbara, CA, ViQi is a technology company specializing in applying artificial intelligence to help enable and simplify scientific discoveries. Currently ViQi’s cloud-based image analysis platform is employed in life sciences, specifically virology and high content image analysis; digital pathology and environmental monitoring. For more information, visit

About America’s Seed Fund
America’s Seed Fund powered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million in non-dilutive funds to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.5 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. For more information, visit

Media Contact

Kathy Yeung, ViQi, Inc., 1 (310)890-3338, [email protected]



ViQi, Inc. awarded a National Science Foundation grant SBIR Phase II: Machine learning for Rapid Automated Viral Infectivity Assays WeeklyReviewer

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