The current pandemic of the novel coronavirus is creating unprecedented challenges for everyone. To find the way out of this brand new situation, we also need brand new ideas and rapidly deploy and scale them. Just the thing the most innovative startups are known for. With the EIT Digital Challenge 2020 in full swing, we look at previous winners and how they took up the challenge by doing what they do best: innovate.
Medicus.ai launches CoVive to fulfill its duty
2018 Challenge-winner Medicus.ai has always been on the forefront when it comes to offering smart triage-solutions. The Austrian startup offers an AI-based platform that explains and interprets blood tests and medical reports to provide personalised health tips, actionable recommendations and lifestyle coaching. So when COVID-19 started to spread more and more, Dr. Baher Al Hakim of Medicus.ai figured his company should play a role in stemming the spread: ” We’re doing our duty as a health-tech company.”
Founded in Dubai in 2015, and with total €20.9 million funding raised so far, Medicus.ai has reworked it’s solution to cover the COVID-19 in a slick mobile app called CoVive. With the app users can assess their risk of having the virus, connect to a doctor, monitor key parameters and trigger notifications to health authorities in case of emergency. According to Al Hakim, the app currently has well over 25,000 users. “For the developments we were able to use some components from our existing product. But we also did new development. For instance, the entire COVID-19 assessment in the app is new. ” To achieve the quality they needed, Medicus.ai partnered with BioneXt medical laboratories from Luxembourg. Al Hakim adds: “We did the design and development of the app. They have an advisory role. After all, they are the ones working in the field, testing the patients.”
Adapting to a pandemic has been challenging, ever for an agile health-tech company as Medicus. “The hardest part was getting the all important CE-certification in just a couple of weeks”, says Al Hakim. “Any app that handles personal information is supposed to be CE-certified. If it’s not, it is probably breaking regulations. But the main learning for us is that we need to move faster next time around. If we feel that we can contribute, we shouldn’t talk and discuss but just go for it. We will also involve partners immediately. They are on the ground, where it happens. They are the people that hear from patients, doctors and governments.”
SideKick-app making Icelandic healthcare more efficient
Meanwhile in Iceland, Sidekickhealth developed a similar app for their home market. Their digital therapeutic platform already proved its worth by having an impact on health outcomes such as diabetes mortality risk, cardiovascular fitness, weight, blood glucose and anxiety in many countries. The platform was already scalable to over 40 chronic diseases, and COVID-19 is now one of them, says Sidekick’s co-founder and CEO Tryggvi Thorgeirsson: “Sidekick’s platform is clinically validated, so we started with an excellent foundation to rise to the challenge. We could add new features such as a COVID symptom reporting and adopt it in record time to help healthcare professionals triage and monitor patients in home isolation, diagnosed with COVID-19.”
Once Sidekickhealth realized the spread of the novel coronavirus could become a real problem, they decided to jump in, says Thorgeirsson. “We wanted to help where we could, and without much deliberation we came to the conclusion that we should go ahead and adopt the platform and offer our service for free, starting in our native Iceland.” Sidekick’s solution is now adopted nationwide in Iceland, one of the countries that is credited with stemming the spread of the virus early on. Thorgeirsson: “ In conjunction with high levels of testing, the remote monitoring and care approach in Iceland has been credited with favorable patient outcomes such as an ICU admission rate of 1.5% of cases, compared to 5-10% in neighboring countries, and an ICU mortality rate of 15%. The adoption of Sidekick’s solution has also helped healthcare professionals to better allocate resources, ensuring that patients receive appropriate care in a timely fashion, avoiding more serious illness.”
3Yourmind ramps up manufacturing
The Berlin-based startup and 2014 EIT Digital winner, 3Yourmind has put their skills creating agile manufacturing to the greater good. Once the virus hit, they rapidly developed Covid >>> Response, to make sure there are enough resources manufactured and distributed to the right place at the right time. Covid >>> Response is a collection of software tools to contribute to the containing of the virus.
The platform includes three key parts. First there’s a digital inventory of 3D-parts that have been culled and minimise risk for doctors who choose to use them. Secondly they’ve created a submission system for new parts that will evaluate for potential use. Lastly they’ve set up an ordering platform to match hospitals, clinics, suppliers of medical equipment with 3D printing services and additive manufacturing departments in OEMs. “It is important that we do not only print parts that look like medical equipment,” says Alexandre Donnadieu, VP of operations of 3Yourmind in North America. “But also that we produce items that can truly serve needs in the medical community with proper designs, proper materials and sterile production and handling procedures. This is the legwork that we are performing with medical facilities to make sure that we are serving a true need in this crisis.”
Oculavis enables working from home for many others
Some ideas however seem to be made for a post-COVID world from the start. With working from home as the new standard and social distancing as a worldwide mantra, Oculavis’ solution seems to fit perfectly. The German startup won the EIT Digital Challenge in 2019 for their remote maintenance solution. “During corona, the benefits of our system became much more visible,” says Oculavis director Martin Plutz. Oculavis has developed Oculavis Share, a video-based AR-solution to let experts and technicians provide service and maintenance to machinery, without having to be physically present.
Oculavis Share allows technicians to assist workers through video. Plutz: “It’s not just video calling. There’s an AR-part where you can point out important components in the machinery. It also allows you to freeze the video and render a high-res image, even when there is not a good signal on the factory floor. QR-codes on the machines can connect a user to the right experts straight away, or provide technical documentation.” To make it even more sci-fi than your average Zoom call, Oculavis works best with smart glasses.
Helping factory workers to fix their own stuff is important. If technicians no longer have to travel the world, the chances of them spreading or catching the coronavirus is greatly reduced. Plutz: “We have many more requests for a live demo since the virus hit, we can see an increasing curve.” Because their solution fits the current situation, Oculavis has decided to offer Ocalavis Share for free during a trial period of six weeks.
Wonderflow for free to adapt to new working situation
Among the 2019 winners of the EIT Digital Challenge, Wonderflow also stepped up during the pandemic. They realised that workplaces all around the world were severely disrupted. With an unprecedented situation for both employers and employees, gathering and analysing employee feedback suddenly became an essential tool for businesses to keep their workplace going.
With their solution WonderWork, Wonderflow employs Natural Language Processing to interpret honest, unfiltered and unstructured feedback from employees. Since that is something many businesses could use right now, they decided to create a free version during the pandemic. “Over the past weeks, we have heard from the managers and employees that they feel isolated during these unprecedented times and ever-changing circumstances,” Riccardo Osti, Wonderflow’s CEO, shared. “The speed of change has increased tenfold, and digital transformation is accelerating as a result of the crisis.”
With the launch of WonderWork, we are able to help companies to stay connected with their employees, as well as assess their well-being and specific needs, especially in these times of crisis. Whether you’re a smaller business or part of a team inside a large organisation, you can request free access to WonderWork.”
EIT Digital Challenge 2020 registration is open
Does your company have an equally innovative mindset? Do you have a deep tech startup or scaleup based in one of the member states of the European Union, United Kingdom, or in one of the Horizon 2020 associated countries? Is your company younger than 10 years, with an annual revenue of over €300.000 or at least €2 million in funding? Then get ready to take your business to the next level in the EIT Digital Challenge 2020. Register now, the deadline for applications is 7 June 2020.