The Startups which came to World's Rescue during COVID-19

A Graduate from L.S. Raheja School of Architecture, Namita's passion lies in design and writing. Her education in the field of architecture has her inquisitive on sensitive design practices and psychological factors that influence design. The psychology influencing design and its power to ameliorate the lives of the people and the impact on the planet, in general, is what drives her curiosity.

It is often said that it is in diversity that human creativity touches its peak. A look at history and we will see that some of the best innovations in this world were conceived during harsh times. Needless to say, the same stands true for tech startups too. 

So, when the COVID-19 pandemic had tightened its grip over the world, a bunch of techies got to work and came up with ideas which could change the world for better again! Now, coming to BuzzOnEarth, our readers know that we have always been about giving voice to even the littlest of steps taken towards sustainability.

So, while we were doing our usual research, we thought- why not bring these guys in the limelight?

So, here’s a list of 20 startups which have done some really commendable work that we feel you should know about:

1. MYLAB, India

Category: Detection, Testing Kits

Patho Detect, a Covid-19 testing kit by Mylab Discoveries, Pune catapulted to fame for designing COVID-19 testing kits which took a record time of “six weeks” for delivering results instead of the usual three or four months process. Not only that, but the testing kit also became the first one to receive commercial approval from the Indian FDA/ Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

Mylab happens to be the only Indian Company to have achieved 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity in the ICMR evaluation and detects infection within 2.5 hours, compared to the 7+ hours taken by the current protocol. The company has already shipped the first batch of its testing kits to diagnostic labs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru.

2. IIT- Madras + NextGen 3D, India

Category: Preventive, Personal Protective Equipment

A group of IIT-Madras students partnered with NextGen 3D- a 3D printing solutions provider to make facemasks for doctors. Treating COVID-19 requires medical officials to wear hazmat suits which could be suffocating if the use is prolonged. Additionally, the inconvenience faced by doctors in using stethoscopes whilst having a face mask poses a significant barrier too. However, thanks to the IIT-M students’ innovation, the new easy-to-make Facemask (with PET-G material for the screen and a 3D Printer headband of polypropylene) are devoid of any such concerns.  These masks are commercially available and can be procured for Rs 100 per piece.

3. Asimov Robotics, India

Category: Robots

Asimov Robotics is a startup under the umbrella of Kerala Start-up Mission. Founded in 2012 by Mr Jayakrishnan T, Asimov is known famously for its ‘KARMI-Bot’- which assists patients in Ernakulam Medical College Hospital’s isolation ward. 

The main responsibilities of ‘KARMI-Bot’ entail dispensing food, medicine, collecting the trash used by the patients, performing disinfection, enable video call between the doctor and patients. 

The project intends to minimize interaction between COVID-19 patients and health workers. The shorting of PPE kits has led to ‘KARMI-Bot’ ensuring the kits are used sparingly. 

4. BioBot Analytics, US

Category: Analysis, Prevention

Started in 2014, in Somerville, United States, Biobot Analytics develops cutting-edge technology to transform sewers into public health observatories. According to the company,” Biobot combines science with data, analytics and artificial intelligence that, at scale, can make predictions about public health trends, such as whether COVID-19 is likely to spread or decrease in counties across the country.”

Biobot Co-founders Mariana Matus and Newsha Ghaeli launched a pro bono program to map COVID-19 across the U.S. through sewer testing. The sewage samples collected from the bowels of cities by collecting public health data, the finding can assist in isolating the next coronavirus cluster. The cases of the illness are being underreported due to asymptomatic carriers and the lack of testing. Should the virus re-emerge, the app would be able to detect early warning signs, enabling communities to take necessary steps. 

5. iMerciv, Canada

Category: Preventive, Application

The Canadian startup, iMerciv works towards changing lives for the better with its BuzzClip, a wearable device that alerts visually impaired people about obstacles directly in their path. 

In the wake of the coronovirus pandemic, the company has chanellized its resources to fight COVID-19, launching its new pedestrian navigation app, MapinHood. The product’s Social Distancing Mode uses historic pedestrian foot traffic data, advising users to avoid busy streets. The app also creates “timed routes” that start and end at one’s residence (for exercise or getting supplies) and warns of COVID-related risks and it incorporates voluntary survey tools to help track the spread of the virus.

6. Arone – Drone-Based Medical Supplies Delivery, Nigeria

Category: Preventive, Drones

Arone is championing the battle against COVID-19 in Nigeria with their revolutionizing delivery in Africa with their eco-friendly delivery solution using autonomous drones. This 2017 founded Nigerian startup offers aerial logistics services for front line medics, laboratories, and other medical distribution centres to provide faster delivery of vital medical products. An autonomous flight navigation software uses computer vision and artificial intelligence for flight planning, obstacle manoeuvring and detecting when a parcel is delivered. The supplies reach vulnerable groups faster, can pick up test sample from those suspected to have infections, without human participation, all in a no-contact method and in tough weather or environmental conditions.

7.ROOM | Rapid Testing Booth, US

Category: Preventive

Room, a start-up based in New York has reimagined their flagship phone booth to become a testing booth to protect front liners from testing potential COVID-19 patients. The versatility of this product allows it to be used as a single unit or in a chain-form to create a wall-like barrier between patients and medical practitioners. They have open-sourced the product drawings, allowing a wider group to fight the battle against the virus. 

8. SQREEM, Singapore

Category: Preventive, Tracking

SQREEM, a Singapore based startup has identified how to channelize their expertise in finding customers for business, into an AI methodology for contact tracing of COVID-19. The startup claims to have 93 per cent accuracy in detection as it traces the path travelled by the patient and with the help of other apps,  identifies the people which the patient may have come into contact within a time frame of the last two weeks.

SQREEM uses data from apps on the infected person’s phone, which “ping” people at least once a day and sometimes 50 or more times per hour, to trace the routes the infected person has taken. It then merges social, web visit, GPS and behavioural data – all anonymised – to produce a timeline showing places where the infected person spent at least 30 minutes. 

9. Oxford Nanopore, United Kingdom

Category: Preventive, Tracking

British company Oxford Nanopore shipped another 200 units of pocket-sized sequencers to China after establishing extensive support and collaboration with public health professionals in the country. 

Called MinION, these are handheld DNA sequencers meant to track coronavirus.

These sequencers can detect diseases instantly by sequencing DNA and track how the same is spreading or changing. This process is faster than the traditional full-genome sequencing process that takes days to extract the DNA followed by analysing the same. 

10. Staqu, India

Category: AI Thermal Camera, Preventive

Founded in 2015 by Atul Rai, Chetan Rexwal, Anurag Saini, and Pankaj Sharma, STAQU launched an AI-powered thermal camera to detect potential cases. JARVIS the camera has a range spanning 100meters with the ability to detect multiple faces at once. It creates alerts in real-time when a person with increased body temperature is detected. 

The startup claims the technology is efficient in scanning crowded places like airports, railway stations, malls, etc.

11. InnAccel Technologies, India

Category:  CPAP Machines, Treatment

Bengaluru-based InnAccel Technologies, a MedTech start-up has developed a one-of-a-kind continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system ‘Saans Pro’. It can run without electricity and has the ability to ventilate with ambient air if oxygen is not available. 

Siraj Dhinani, the founder said that the 5kg Saans Pro was tested in a rickshaw and it was able to maintain air pressure for 12 hours. This has the potential to become a viable option for treating patients on-the-go. 

The company has the capacity to produce 1,000 such CPAP systems in a month and will start manufacturing from May.

12. Jyoti CNC Automation, India

Category: Ventilators, Treatment

Rajkot-based CNC machine tools maker, Jyoti CNC Automation, has developed an indigenous ventilator costing about one-sixth of what is presently available in the market. Named Dhaman-1’, which means a blower that pumps the air, has been developed within 10 days at Jyoti CNC’s Rajkot facility and costs Rs 1 lakh; much less than the cost of commercial ventilators usually available in the market.

According to company chairman and managing director (MD), Parakramsinh Jadeja, an initial 1,000 units of the ventilator will be donated to the Gujarat government for Covid-19 and other needs.

13. Aerobiosys Innovations, India

Category: Ventilators, Treatment

Aerobiosys Innovations, a start-up incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad’s Center for Healthcare Entrepreneurship (CFHE) has also developed a low-cost, portable ventilator called Jeevan Lite. Priced at Rs 1 lakh, it can be remotely operated through a phone app.

“Its wireless connectivity and remote monitoring make it unique,” said Renu John, head of the department of biomedical engineering at IIT Hyderabad.

14. PerSapien, India

Category: Disinfectants, Preventive

Launch in 2016, PerSapien was founded by Stanford University researchers Debayan Saha and Shashi Ranjan who developed a mini robot named ‘Minus Corona UV Bot’ set to sterilize hospitals wards and ICUs.The robot does so by using ultraviolet light which has a wavelength of 254 nm. A UV-C lamp is mounted on the top of a wheeled robotic platform which can be controlled by remote control.

The robot has seen implementation in institutions across West Bengal and Kolkata such as the Don Bosco School and Narayana Multispeciality Hospital. 

15. Antariksh Waste Ventures, India

Category: Waste disposal, Preventive

An IIT-Madras-incubated start-up, Antariksh Waste Ventures has developed an ‘smart bin system’ enabled by- Internet of Things to prevent the spread of Covid-19 through waste generated at contagion vulnerable points (CVPs)- primarily hospitals, clinics, public bins and quarantine zones.

Named ‘AirBin,’ it allows remote monitoring of waste accumulation levels and clearances using the IoT systems–where devices communicate with each other intelligently. This system can be retrofitted on to existing garbage bins on nearby poles, walls or the bin lids.

The objective of the startup is to help rural and urban bodies clear every bin before it overflows and accelerate sustainability. This product is scheduled to hit the market in around five months. Antariksh aims to supply the first 200 AirBin devices across India in the next few months with long-term plans to deliver 100,000 units for 100 smart cities in India.

16. Log9, India

Category: Sanitizing solutions, Preventive

CoronaOven, a first of its kind product devised by Log9 Materials, a Sequoia & Exfinity funded startup using UV-C light in combination with certain design parameters to sanitize products/objects regularly used in healthcare and household settings. This would prevent surface-to-human transmission of COVID-19. 

The product is now ready for mass deployment, Log9 Materials worked with the challenges of a lockdown developing this technology within two weeks.

17. E25Bio, US

Category: Early Detection

Started in 2018, in Cambridge, United States E25Bio has designed lateral flow rapid detection tests for fever viruses that can deliver results in as little as five minutes and up to 15. The tests are paper-based and can be made to work immediately with no moving parts, no machinery, and provide a visual readout. Having managed to develop an investigational test in a short 3-week period, they aim to change the way we diagnose disease and help prevent pandemics.

18. One Visa and Wovn Technologies, Japan

Category: Language Translation

As of January 2020, Japan Times reports 1.66 Million foreign workers are part of the workforce. Two Tokyo startups- One Visa and Wovn Technologies– Have partnered to translate the relief and support measures by the government officials to the benefit of the foreign workforce. English, Chinese, Korean and “Easy Japanese” are the languages for non-natives to understand the latest developments. 

19. Binah.Ai, Israel

Category: AI-Based Health Monitoring, Preventive

Binah.ai , an Israel-based startup, uses AI to monitor the vital signs of potential Covid-19 patients. It detects respiration rate, heart rate,  HVR, Oxygen saturation and mental stress level simply by looking into smartphone cameras all in real-time. This safe, contactless method could greatly help medical professionals in assessing a patient with symptoms such as fever, cough, tiredness and advise them suitable recourse or even help patients monitor themselves at home. 

20. Clean Slate UV, Canada

Category: Infection control Startup, Preventive

According to the University of Arizona, smartphones carry 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats. Founded in 2015, Toronto- based CleanSlate UV, offers a contactless way to sanitize smartphones as well as non-medical devices. The UVC light technology takes a mere 20 seconds to disinfect the surface without the use of harmful disinfectants. This technology has proved to be more effective against the coronavirus as compared to the usual medical-grade technology.