3 Under-the-Radar Innovations Taking on Covid-19's Most Daunting Challenges
Here's how the tech world is innovating to help frontline workers and businesses hard hit by the pandemic.
The pandemic has posed an array of challenges to virtually every industry, but the medical community especially has become exhausted by the overwhelming number of cases. To meet the burdening demands of the pandemic, thousands of medical startups and companies have refocused their attention to develop new products capable of tackling the most burdensome issues. Others have addressed the less emergent yet critical challenges standing in the way of the world’s fight to win back normalcy.
Whether testing or protecting the medical staff fighting valiantly to save lives, public and private sectors are working together on the frontlines of the pandemic. Here are three companies to keep an eye on that are providing a boost in both areas overlooked and areas most regarded in med tech during Covid-19.
Hunting for Covid-19 infections
Testing for COVID-19 has proven to be an arduous task in many countries, especially those who lack the resources to keep up with growing numbers of potential infections. Conducting tests has become a greater imperative now as the coronavirus rapidly resurfaces across Europe, the UK and governments brace for new lockdown measures along with their contact, trace, and isolate practices.
Lockdowns, however, place the entertainment and hospitality industries in a situation they simply can’t accept for much longer, with many out of work and struggling to make ends meet under government-imposed shutdowns. Just days ago, Parisian restaurant and bar employees marched in a sort of mock funeral as a symbolic allusion to their lost livelihoods and frustrations. They're not alone. Event hosts, organizers, and related business proprietors around the world have lost out on billions in revenue－not to mention the air travel revenues lost from the closure of borders and drop in demand for commercial flights. Two European companies might offer temporary remedies, though, for these economic ailments.
GeneMe, guided by the advisory firm Nex.D and based in Poland, developed its testing solution called "FRANKD," which is said to give accurate results in 30 minutes. GeneMe recently partnered with Virgin Atlantic to test all of the airline’s staff pre-flight. The next logical step will likely be the passengers, as evidenced by the UK’s recent launch of a task force to determine how to reopen travel.
The test only takes an estimated 90 seconds, compared with the standard PCR test that requires an hour and a half to analyze. GeneMe fuses DNA polymerase with the NeqSSB protein that helps the company's labs produce enzymes, which in turn refines the testing process. In non-medical speak, the company’s process enables testing to be specific and scalable for the masses.
Not far south from Poland's borders, Vienna's new hot testing kit testFRWD, founded by DJ and music-festival powerhouse Hennes Weiss and serial entrepreneur Veit-Ander Aichbichler, aims to reopen the tourism, culture, and events industries to customers by offering a hyper-accurate testing solution. The company’s do-it-yourself at home mouthwash test, which it claims is 99 percent accurate, makes it easy for individuals to test themselves for COVID at home with a simple gargle test. The method allows more tests to be conducted at once, reducing the local administrative burden of health systems across the globe.
Ultimately, the goal is for event-goers, travelers, and other individuals to buy test kits at local retailers or receive one from the event organizers, self-test, and then send via a cooperating courier to a local lab.
Healthcare professionals continue to ride out the storm at healthcare facilities around the world, awaiting relief. Many hospitals continue to struggle to manage a continuing limited supply of resources against the increasing volume of patients, as reported in the Harvard Business Review. Those in facilities with a shortage of resources suffered serious health risks, too. A UC Berkeley study estimated that "at least 35% of medical workers and other essential workers in California who tested positive for COVID-19 were infected at work, amid shortages." In the midst of the crisis, saving waste has become critical.
Texas Medical Center Supply has taken the supply challenges and placed them on its shoulders by shifting attention to Covid-related PPE. At the center of Texas Medical's campaign is an array of advanced tech and non-tech equipment to empower administrators to monitor potential medical crises and protect employees. These developments include its AI-driven resource-management solution that allows administrators to react earlier to medical staff infections, and PPE tech like the glove dispenser and SaniCart disinfection cabin, which control and monitor resources and protect staff.
Beyond the confines of medical care spaces, Texas Medical is working to sanitize public spaces. Its drone, dubbed the "SaniDrone," is designed to spray public venues and other spaces. Similarly, the company's UV disinfection vehicle, the "Germsrover Pro," sanitizes a number of different confined indoor and outdoor spaces. Only time will tell how much some of the more advanced products come in demand as medical facilities struggle to manage more basic resources.
Whether fighting shortages or keeping up with increasing testing needs, the battle to defeat the coronavirus seems like it continues uphill. Yet with the help of innovation from all over the world, the incline becomes a little more shallow. They say that a dog is man's best friend. During the pandemic, though, medtech innovation may have temporarily taken the title away.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor