A2A Challenge: Rapid, Simple, and Accurate Detection of Legionella in Water

Collaboration with A2A

Challenge overview


The Legionella bacteria in water causes more than 2000 annual cases of legionellosis in Italy, with severe health consequences that cause a death rate of 10%. Nowadays, the established culture methods for measuring the contamination of water by Legionella bacteria require several days of analysis in order to obtain a reliable outcome. A2A is looking for rapid methods to be able to intervene promptly in the event of contamination and progressively assess the effect of corrective measures. Specifically, A2A is interested in quantitative or semi-quantitative test methods and solutions (preferably Point-of-Care) that can be performed by non-chemistry professionals. Test methods shall be applicable to at least 1 Liter samples, shall not be sensitive to interference and cross-contamination and must return a quantitative or semi-quantitative result in under 24 hours (ideally in 2 hours).

This is an electronic Request-for-Partners (eRFP) Challenge; the Solver will only need to submit a written proposal to be evaluated by the Seeker with the goal of establishing a collaborative partnership.



Deaths caused by the legionella bacteria increased by 30 times in the last 30 years, with more than 2000 annual cases of legionellosis in Italy, and especially in Lombardia region, and a death rate of 10%. For these reasons, it is very important for A2A to detect the water contamination by the Legionella bacteria. There are several alternative methods to the standard culture method, which is the only one currently recognized by the Italian law (UNI EN ISO 11731), for the detection of Legionella in water, among which the most common are the RT-PCR and portable LAMP methods. The latter has been already investigated by A2A, finding that it is able to give a rapid colorimetric result within 90 minutes of filtration through a brief process and portable equipment.  However, some limitations have been found in the discrimination of the contamination threshold, in the treatment of dirty samples, and in measuring samples up to 1 Liter, as well as it requires a minimum degree of specialization of the operator.

A2A is therefore looking for new methods for the detection of Legionella contamination of quantitative or semi-quantitative Point-of-Care type that can be performed by non-chemistry professionals, not sensitive to interference and cross-contamination and that return in less than 24 hours a quantitative or semi-quantitative result, i.e., a range or a threshold of bacteria concentration that can be ideally set before the testing depending on the application.

This is an electronic Request-for-Partners (eRFP) Challenge. The Solver will write a preliminary proposal (about 2-4 pages, including supporting non-confidential information and contact details) to be evaluated by the Seeker with a goal of establishing a collaborative partnership. Upon completion of the evaluation, the Seeker may contact selected Solvers directly to work out terms for a collaboration contract. The monetary value of the contract will vary depending on the amount of work to be delivered and the agreed upon time frame.

NOTE: Proposals from Solvers who have the ability to work directly as the collaboration partner or supplier will be considered first. The Seeker will also consider proposals from other Solvers who refer a suitable candidate as a partner for a finder’s fee of $1,000 USD if the referral will become an actual collaboration. See full description for details.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 22-Feb-2022.
Late submissions will not be considered.



Employees of A2A Group and their families are not eligible to receive awards for this Challenge.


The A2A Group is the largest Italian multi utility, at the forefront of territorial services and technological solutions for ten years, with one hundred years of history and experience. We design smart and sustainable cities, with respect for the people who live there, we are protagonists of energy transition and we implement the principle of the circular economy in all of our activities. With a far-reaching strategic plan, we manage the generation, sale and distribution of electricity and gas, district heating, waste collection and recovery, e-mobility, public lighting and the integrated water services.

Through our subsidiary A2A Ciclo Idrico, we manage the integrated water supply (aqueducts, purification plants and sewerage networks) in the city of Brescia and in many municipalities in the province.


What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an eRFP Challenge?

An InnoCentive eRFP Challenge allows Seekers to submit Requests for Proposals for a partner or supplier to provide materials or expertise to solve a business challenge by leveraging the InnoCentive Solver network. This global community includes organizations and individuals, such as contract research organizations, scientists, university researchers, and technology companies.

After a Solver submits an eRFP response, the Seeker evaluates the responses to determine which Solver(s) to contact for further business discussions. With eRFPs, the Solver must not provide any confidential information in the eRFP response. If your eRFP response is selected, you negotiate the terms of the contract (including scope of work, tasks and duration) directly with the Seeker.

This Challenge type does not require Intellectual Property (IP) transfer. However, sometimes Seekers request that certain IP arrangements be made should a partnership be formed.

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