Apple awards $10 million to COPAN Diagnostics to boost production of nasal swabs

On Thursday, Apple announced it would award $10 million from its advanced manufacturing fund to COPAN Diagnostics, a maker of nasal swabs and other materials used to collect samples for coronavirus testing. This funding will boost the swab maker’s weekly production to 1 million collection kits by early July while also supporting COPAN Diagnostics’ expansion to a new, larger facility in Southern California.

In addition to providing COPAN Diagnostics with $10 million in funding, Apple will also help the company design and source new equipment from companies like K2 Kinetics and MWES, which are makers of industrial robotics systems.

An untimely shortage of collection kits and testing supplies have slowed coronavirus tracking efforts in the US. COPAN Diagnostics’ corporate parent, the COPAN Group, is located in the Lombardy region of Italy, one of the worst-hit regions in the world.

In a statement, Norman Sharples, chief executive of COPAN Diagnostics, shared, “Collection and transport kits are a critical component in the fight against COVID-19. At COPAN, we’re excited and grateful for this partnership with Apple as our strong beliefs of innovation, quality, and excellence in manufacturing and design are perfectly aligned. Apple’s operational expertise will help us increase delivery of important pre-analytical tools for medical professionals across the country at this critical time.”

Apple awarded the funding to COPAN Diagnostics from its $5 billion advanced manufacturing fund. The tech giant previously used the funding to support companies like iPhone glass manufacturer Corning and Finisar, the maker of chips used for Apple’s facial-recognition sensors.

“We feel a deep sense of responsibility to do everything we can to help medical workers, patients, and communities support the global response to COVID-19,” shared Apple COO, Jeff Williams.

Apple has donated tens of millions of dollars in the coronavirus fight. Not only has the company distributed nearly 10 million face shields and sourced over 30 million face masks for health care professionals, but the iPhone maker has also teamed up with the CDC to create a COVID-19 symptom-checking website and app, and has collaborated with Google to develop COVID-19 contact-tracing technology.