Digital health startups vs. COVID-19 

March 12, 2020

Digital health startups vs. COVID-19 

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives and livelihood of everyone around the world in every possible way. Individuals, organisations and governments are reinventing the dynamics of everyday life to stay safe, healthy and afloat. This is especially true for startups who are the most flexible and adaptable economic players in the market. In the last few weeks, we have witnessed startups putting their resources to fight COVID-19. In this post, we gathered a list of five digital health startups tackling the pandemic and how.

While these are times of uncertainty, we are also seeing expressions of solidarity and humanity everywhere we look. Residents are reaching out to help vulnerable people in their neighbourhoods and businesses are offering their products free of charge. Many organisations and teams are refocusing their activities to support the measures against the spread of COVID-19 and provide solutions in areas of health care, remote work, logistics, education, and child care. For example, over a hundred thousand people have already participated in local hackathons focusing on issues caused by the pandemic. A worldwide initiative Global Hack (registration is open), supported by the European Commission, aims to attract 1 million participants. The European Commission is also hosting a Pan-European Hackaton #EUvsVirus to connect innovators and civil society across Europe to develop innovative solutions (registration will open soon).

We can’t help but notice the extraordinary efforts of digital health startups in this context. While startups are smaller and more fragile economic actors, it is also in their nature to respond to critical needs and demand on a tight deadline. Developing diagnostic and mapping tools, empowering platforms for online consultations, taking advantage of advanced technology to predict the spread of the pandemic and identify the most vulnerable communities, as well as finding the cure – these are some of the challenges that the digital health startups are already addressing.

Here are five examples of Digital Health startups working hard to tackle COVID-19

Velmio, an Estonian startup, was focused on the development of a pregnancy health app before the pandemic. Now the team at Velmio has created Corona-tracker – a data-driven app to help users monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and contribute to research efforts. It analyses users’ symptoms and shows the risk level of nearby locations.

Memo Therapeutics is a biotech startup from Switzerland which offers innovative solutions in antibody discovery and immune repertoire analysis. In response to the pandemic, Memo launched the HACK CORONA initiative which aims to use their technology to help find a cure against the virus. Memo is currently looking for people who are 18-80 years old, live in Zurich and have overcome a heavy infection with COVID-19 to donate blood for their research. 

Mendelian, based in the UK, uses data analytics and pattern recognition to help medical practitioners diagnose rare diseases. To support the measures against COVID-19, the founders have adapted their platform to identify which GP surgeries around the country are likely to encounter the highest numbers of cases and to help identify which patients have the highest likelihood of developing serious health problems. The platform has already been introduced by the NHS to more than half a million people. 

KRY is a Swedish startup which enables users to consult a health professional within minutes, via smartphone or tablet. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, KRY’s team developed Care Connect – a platform that allows healthcare professionals across the globe to see and treat their patients. It is free to use for all healthcare professionals.

Belgian-American company Andaman7 built a platform to manage diseases, measure outcomes and empower patients. In response to the pandemic, Andaman7 developed a free in-app Pandemic Module that helps patients, healthcare providers and authorities to manage the crisis.

Startups from other industries are also actively involved in tackling COVID-19. For example, Mirakl, Paris-based e-commerce software developer, launched an online marketplace platform StopCovid19.fr to source medical supplies to health care facilities and essential workers. Meanwhile, 3D printing startups in Italy and Spain are designing and producing life-saving valves for ventilators and other parts for medical supplies. 

These are some of the many examples demonstrating that startups are a crucial part of the solution in the fight against COVID-19. Startups’ speed of innovation, combined with a high degree of flexibility and adaptability is what the world needs at this time when the health care systems are being overwhelmed and hospitals suffer from overcapacity. 

However, startups also need support throughout these challenging times. Many of them face financial instability and uncertainty. To address this, we collaborated with leading startup networks from all over Europe and beyond to publish a joint open letter to the President of the European Commission. We call on the European Commission to give startups a central role in the solutions to the COVID-19-outbreak and implement a wide range of measures to support startups through the difficult economic situation. We are also constantly collecting and reviewing best practices in our COVID-19-STARTUP TOOLBOX.

Let’s make sure startups from Andaman7 to Velmio have everything they need so they can support the fight against COVID-19!



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