14 innovative startup solutions addressing the current pandemic

Simone Edelmann, PhD

Editor at HealthcareTransformers.com

14 innovative startup solutions addressing the current pandemic

30 April 2020

The whole world is coming together to help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Innovative startups are integral to the fight. Their solutions could help to address a wide range of healthcare needs, such as timely and convenient diagnostics and cost-effective interventions. Furthermore, they are coming up with exciting ways to help better understand the coronavirus disease spread and the success of containment and eradication efforts.

Plug and Play is an early stage investor and innovation platform that brings together startups and the world’s largest corporations such as Roche, Johnson & Johnson, Deloitte and many more, with the aim of helping new technology get to market fast. 

In this article, we take a look at 14 startups and their innovative ideas pitched to Plug and Play in an effort to tackle COVID-19 and future pandemics. 

1. Mammoth Biosciences

Challenge: Addressing the unmet need for widely distributed diagnostics for COVID-19 and future pandemics, specifically when it comes to test development time, reagent quality and shortages, lack of testing equipment and trained technicians and logistical difficulties.

Solution: Decentralized diagnostic products using a molecular method of testing that provides access to the earliest window for diagnosis, treatment and quarantine. Using their rapid and low-cost proprietary testing system that employs CRISPR technology, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA can be detected in COVID-19 patient samples. 

To learn more, visit the Mammoth Biosciences company website.

2. Binah.ai

Challenge: The need to triage patients without overloading the already overwhelmed medical facilities, while reducing the risk to healthcare personnel and at-risk patients at healthcare facilities. 

Solution: Working in real-time or offline, video-based measurement of vital signs such as heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiration rate, stress level and heart rate variability can be done using only a camera-equipped device – without any additional technology. The information can then be extracted and uploaded via an app to any physician or medical doctor and can also be used to register participants and monitor their vital signs. The data can also be stored and used for risk assessments and scoring, trend analysis, early warning alerts, predictive analytics and demand and capacity planning on a global scale. 

This technology is currently being used and tested in telehealth, remote patient monitoring, nursing homes, child monitoring, wellness and preventative medicine and virtual clinical trials monitoring. 

To learn more, visit the Binah.ai company website.

3. Biomeme

Challenge: The need for quick turnaround of COVID-19 test results.

Solution: Using fast, decentralized DNA and RNA extraction with a mobile quantitative PCR thermocycler along with mobile apps, cloud portal and third-party integrations, the lab testing burden and time can be reduced from around 3-5 days to 1 hour. The technology requires no lab equipment, cold chain, or electricity. 

To learn more, visit the Biomeme company website.

4. Zuum

Challenge: The need for continued and efficient trucking and shipping operations at low costs during COVID-19 pandemic. 

Solution: Automated platform that connects shippers, trucking companies and freight brokers on one platform. Similar to what Airbnb has done for the travel industry by partnering with property owners to provide consumers with low-cost options, Zuum Transportation has partnered with freight brokers in the trucking industry to provide shippers with low cost options, streamlining the process with their software from start to finish. 

To learn more, visit the Zuum company website.

5. Genomtec

Challenge: The need for faster, less painful and more accurate turnaround for patient testing and treatments. 

Solution: A remote device that works independently and automatically with Streamlined Nucleic Acid Amplification Technology (SNAAT). SNAAT uses optical heating and detection, microfluidics and a reaction test card to detect DNA and RNA in any biological material. The analytical phase is reduced to 15 minutes or less and the test itself has a 6-month shelf life. The test result can be sent directly from Genomtec ID to an e-mail address or exported to an electronic medical record system (EMR).

To learn more, visit the Genomtec company website.

6. Health Gorilla 

Challenge: The need for increased access to testing results for COVID-19 to understand the true impact of the virus; the need to share and leverage medical information for accurate COVID-19 management. 

Solution: An application program interface (API) that enables digital health developers to access and retrieve high quality clinical data from thousands of vendors instantly. Health Gorilla’s APIs that are relevant to COVID-19 can be used to retrieve medical records from EMR systems and to place lab orders and receive test results electronically, also potentially speeding up the time to result.

To learn more, visit the Health Gorilla company website.

7. Sonovia

Challenge: Patients in hospitals are exposed to millions of bacteria, and potentially SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing COVID-19. This can result in medical complications, longer hospital stays, and death. The other challenge that exists is the environmental impact of the textile industry. 

Solution: Ultrasound based, antibacterial and antiviral textile coatings that protect end users from direct and indirect bacterial and viral contamination. The solution also transforms the highly polluting textile wet-processing industry to become more sustainable by infusing textiles with the chemicals that protect them for up to 100 washes at 70 degrees Celsius, resulting in reusable, washable materials for long-lasting protection. 

To learn more, visit the Sonovia company website.

8. OneBreath

Challenge: Delivering high precision, high reliability mechanical ventilation at an affordable cost.

Solution: A ventilator intended for use in intensive care units (ICUs), emergency rooms and ambulances. The OneBreath ventilator is designed to provide continuous respiratory support for infant through to adult patients. 

To learn more, visit the OneBreath company website.

9. Bleenco

Challenge: Maximizing worker and public safety during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Solution: Elevated body temperature is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. Traditional manual methods for scanning body temperatures are risky, requiring another human interaction and potentially virus transmission. Bleenco’s solution is a zero-touch body temperature measurement tool that can be remotely installed and takes 3 seconds to complete a scan. This solution can serve all industries from manufacturing plants and airports to supermarkets and banks.

Camera technology can also detect whether workers are appropriately wearing protective gear, which could benefit healthcare settings, for example. 

To learn more, visit the Bleenco company website.

10. Breath Research

Challenge: It is challenging to detect and monitor early stages of respiratory disease before symptoms become acute and hospitalization is required.

Solution: Home respiratory testing and monitoring that can be used daily to predict and prevent attacks and hospitalizations through a dual sensor spirometer prototype. The prototype does simultaneous pulmonary testing and lung sound analysis and connects to a mobile app to give people real-time lung health information. The platform has over 35 biomarkers and an artificial intelligence engine that characterizes the severity of respiratory disease for clinical decision support. 

To learn more, visit the Breath Research company website.

11. Biobot Analytics

Challenge: There is no way to accurately assess the number of people infected with COVID-19. This makes it difficult to determine whether or not the rate of infection is getting better or worse in a specific city or state.

Solution: Analyzing sewage to map population health. Sewage contains valuable health information including, but not limited to, COVID-19, zika, antibiotic resistant bacteria and healthy microbiome, Hepatitis C, poliovirus, nutrition, pharmaceutical drugs, nicotine, alcohol and environmental contaminants. SARS-CoV-2 virus is shed in stool and can be detected in sewage. 

To learn more, visit the Biobot Analytics company website.

12. GYANT 

Challenge: COVID-19 has resulted in millions of people entering the healthcare system resulting in busy phone lines, and overwhelmed healthcare facilities and personnel. 

Solution: Using existing GYANT technology, COVID-19 screening and care navigation has been developed to check for symptoms and risk factors and help patients navigate to appropriate health system resources such as crisis hotlines, telemedicine and emergency departments. This technology is also used to educate patients with general information on symptoms, prevention, and preparedness and provide answers to COVID-19 questions and over 60 topics. 

To learn more, visit the GYANT company website.

13. OVID BP

Challenge: Initial indications have shown that hypertension poses additional challenges for effective COVID-19 treatment and potential future pandemics. 

Solution: A patented telehealth process that takes a 12 second video of your face to accurately measure your blood pressure in less than 30 seconds. The technology triangulates QRS pulse position, analyzes skin blood flow and pulse transit time (PPT) to calculate blood pressure, heart rate and respiration rate. It is compatible with virtually any webcam on a smart device. Data is also stored and processed in real-time or offline. 

To learn more, visit the OVID BP company website.

14. Steth IO

Challenge: COVID-19 patients who develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are at highest risk of mortality. Effectively and conveniently monitoring the lung health of patients is necessary to help manage this risk.

Solution: Cardiopulmonary acoustic sounds can be assessed to monitor patient lung health. This device can be used to perform remote examinations by patients at-risk of developing ARDS. Changes in lung sounds can be collected and sent via the cloud to healthcare providers for review. 

To learn more, visit the Steth IO company website.

Working together to adapt to change – no matter the source

As seen by the massive surge in diverse solutions in reaction to COVID-19, technology isn’t the only major disrupter for healthcare systems. The pandemic brought to light already existing challenges, yet added the urgency of change to brave the fight.

Together, as a global community, we need to work together to adapt and meet the healthcare demands of today, no matter what forces influence them. 

Simone Edelmann, PhD is an editor and contributor at HealthcareTransformers.com. After completing her PhD from the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, she found her passion in medical and scientific communications. She is dedicated to delivering high-quality content on the topic of the future of healthcare to our readers. Click here for more content from Simone Edelmann.