When disaster strikes, there are always people that jump in to help. And it’s not just people, many companies also graciously lend their products, skills and knowledge to look for a solution for the crisis or make these hard times a bit more bearable. The COVID-19 outbreak is one such disaster and several companies are stepping forward to help the world collectively in these extraordinary times to provide relief and respite.
The companies which are extending their facilities, especially with innovative healthcare ideas have become superheroes ‘without a cape.’ The following startups from Amsterdam are also offering a helping hand in many ways. From printing face shields, monitoring recovering patients, keeping forced homeworkers sane to accelerating global research to a vaccine. All for the good of mankind.
3D Hubs: shipping new protective gear to hospitals worldwide
“This situation is baffling”, says Ferdinand Goetzen, marketing director of Amsterdam-based 3D Hubs. The startup activated its worldwide network of manufacturers to produce medical equipment. They do so through their special COVID-19 Manufacturing Fund, a crowdfund campaign with which they can raise the funds to produce personal protection equipment and ship them straight to hospitals. The Amsterdam-based online manufacturing platform has so far gathered over €25,000 which got them to produce 6500 face shields to protect medical personnel during their treatment of COVID-19 patients. They’ve shipped them to hospitals all over the world, and still have orders coming in from the USA to Canada and Singapore.
“We are in a unique position”, says Goetzen, who is actively involved in the manufacturing fund. “We have a global network of manufacturers, a very resilient supply chain and the knowledge to help.” The team of 3D Hubs can put their particular skill set at work to help out hospitals. However, with the crowdfunding campaign, they also venture a bit out of their comfort zone, says Goetzen: “We’ve been manufacturing medical supplies for years now, so working on these projects is nothing new for us. But this time we’re not just manufacturing, but fundraising as well. We’re a B2B-company, but this requires a different way of thinking for us.”
Just as with the situation around the coronavirus, the end for the crowdfunding campaign is nowhere near in sight. Goetzen says, “We wanted to respond to an urgent need, so we didn’t do any major goal-setting. It looks like we’ve got some donations coming in to put us well over the initial target. But the requests tend to outpace the funding, so far there is no end goal.” Currently, 3D Hubs’ main focus is producing face shields, but Goetzen states they are ready to make anything that’s needed: “We’re open to making a whole range of products for hospitals. We started this fund because hospitals worldwide started to fill up and needed gear. Right now the face shields are the most effective and direct way we can help. During the campaign we also switched the design of the face shields, making them twice as cost-efficient to make. But we are certainly open to expanding to other products.”
Healthy Workers: monitoring the well-being of home workers
3D Hubs is not the only startup from Amsterdam that is doing its best to help others in these times of need. Proptech startup Healthy Workers normally measures and improves the working climate in office buildings. But with workers being forced to work from home all over the world, they quickly changed gears and launched ‘Anywhere’, an online service to help employers improve the well-being of employees while they work from home. Healthy Workers provides Anywhere for free for existing clients, new customers get half off to make the transition from office worker to home worker as smooth as possible.
“What is happening now in the world might be the biggest HR-experiment ever”, says Boy Lokhoff, founder of Healthy Workers. “We get a lot of questions from existing and new customers about how to deal with their employees being forced to work from home during the corona crisis.”
With Anywhere, companies can offer their employees several tools to provide feedback on their mental and physical challenges in their home-office. Healthy Workers will also provide coaching to improve the situation.
Caro: checking in during COVID-recovery
Also sitting at home are people quarantining or recovering from the coronavirus. To minimise risk of transmission, another Amsterdam-based startup Caro Health has developed the COVID-19 Home Recovery Program. This solution ‘aims to reduce the burden on healthcare providers, by supporting patients who are recovering at home and keeping them away from those most at risk.’ The healthtech service is based on their existing Caro app, with which patients can stay in touch with healthcare professionals during their time of recovery. It gained them a spot in the Techleap COVID-19 program which accelerates entrepreneurs that offer solutions for the challenges in this crisis.
Nori Health: offering an ai-driven coach for IBD-patients
Another digital coach for patients stuck at home is offered by Nori Health. The health-tech startup from the canal city offers an AI-powered digital coach to support people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. During the corona crisis, many IBD-patients have an increased risk of infection. By allowing them to stay at home but still receive adequate care and monitoring by professionals, Nori decreases the risk for people all over Europe.
“With many IBD patients isolated for weeks to come and those with severe conditions and compromised immune systems advised to undergo ‘shielding,’ (an enhanced form of self-isolation) the Nori Health programme can offer vital support in the absence of medical care and while patients are unable to interact with their usual support network,” explains Roeland Pater, Founder and CEO, Nori Health. The eight week programme, which provides chats with healthcare professionals, maps users’ lifestyle patterns and actively suggests lifestyle changes, is completely free during the COVID-19 crisis.
Castor: supporting worldwide medical research, monitoring the virus
Castor from Amsterdam, meanwhile, seems to be made for this situation. The health-tech startup offers a platform that lets medical researchers to capture standardised data to support data driven medical decision making. And with a global pandemic, researchers all over the world are frantically looking for a solution. Castor did the right thing: back in February they decided to make their platform free for researchers looking for a vaccine for COVID-19. This move ensured researchers capture Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) research data and speed up the process of understanding the virus and disease.
“We are now supporting over 160 studies across 11 countries and giving them free access to our platform”, says John Ambrose of Castor. “Among them is the large COVID-PREDICT study, currently conducted by Amsterdam UMC and Maastricht UMC+. They designed a system using machine learning to determine likely outcomes for individual patients. That is to say, who is at greater risk of requiring intensive care among those hospitalised.” Ambrose says they also launched a monitoring platform for COVID-19 and are developing a semantic data model to assist researchers in knowing what other kinds of research is currently being carried out in other places in the world. Castor is planning to offer its platform free of charge for COVID-19 research for the remainder of 2020. But according to Ambrose, this can be extended depending on the circumstances.