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Picking up the COVID-19 gauntlet


As Simon Penson, Partner at Haatch Ventures puts it, “In almost all times of challenge, it is the UK’s entrepreneurs who come to the fore, both in terms of job and value creation as well as in finding solutions to the unique issues of the time.


 

“These businesses are fleet of foot as they are not held back by legacy systems of politics. Instead they’re able to stay laser-focused on solutions.”

So given the unprecedented threat posed to the nation by COVID-19, and the overwhelming atmosphere of bewilderment and fear, we asked around some of our colleagues in the EIS space for some glimmers of hope.

Calculus Capital report that Mologic Ltd, a leading developer of lateral flow and rapid diagnostic technologies, has been awarded c £1 million as part of the UK government’s £46 million international COVID-19 prevention and research funding package. The funding will be used to develop a point-of-need diagnostic test for the virus.

On the back of this announcement, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Mologic’s lab in Bedfordshire in early March, where the company is building on their experience of previous epidemics including the Ebola virus. The creation of a new hand-held diagnostics device to detect COVID-19 will allow health officials to test for the virus at home or in the community, providing results in 20 minutes, without the need for electricity or a laboratory. Rapid identification of the virus enables quicker quarantine and access to care, to support global efforts in preventing further spread – especially in vulnerable countries that have limited specialist facilities.

Par Equity tell us that Current Health is a universal remote patient monitoring platform to monitor, manage and engage with patients at home in order to reduce risk, readmissions and cost for healthcare providers.  It is regarded as the best product in the market as it increases ICU capacity by moving patients home and can help keep cancer patients with low immunity out of hospital.

The coronavirus pandemic has obviously highlighted these benefits and massively increased interest and demand for the product with interest from NHS Trusts and Health Systems in the UK and USA.

The platform is continually being developed and a second-generation device is in process.

Elsewhere, hand-washing is a proven preventive strategy that reduces the likelihood of transmitting both viral and bacterial borne diseases. In the light of the pandemic, keeping hands clean is simply one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to others.

Frontline NHS staff are significantly at risk of both contracting and transmitting the virus, due to the increased level of interaction and exposure to infected patients in the hospital environment. That is why encouraging hand hygiene compliance of hospital staff is of paramount importance.

Nova Growth Capital investee Hy-genie is an active monitoring system that provides staff with personalised hand hygiene performance goals and allows hospitals to continuously detect usage of hand hygiene stations. The system provides real-time insight into hand hygiene behaviour, with an aspiration for 100% compliance in hospitals.

Also part of the Nova portfolio, ParentCare is a digital health platform designed to help the Indian diaspora procure medical and care services for their relatives back in India. As the Indian diaspora increases in size (estimated to be around 15 million people), the need for a platform to help families care for their long-distance relatives grows.

As COVID-19 spreads worldwide, more Indian diasporas will be concerned for their families’ wellbeing and safety in India (currently there are 147 cases, with 15 in Mumbai – where ParentCare will trial its services). ParentCare has secured medical suppliers in Mumbai, who will offer bespoke services to Indian diasporas who want to secure medical help for their family in this worrying period.

But immediate and long-term concerns aren’t confined to healthcare – far from it.

Buymie, a Haatch Ventures portfolio company, is a great example of an EIS-funded start up that is able, through early stage agility and tech, to become a solution for the short-term challenge of lockdowns. Having developed a tried and tested universal grocery delivery platform, they are able to plug into existing supermarkets and provide a ‘no-contact’ home delivery service for those unable to get out.

They are already working with the Irish Government on a formal ‘direct food supply services fund’ and are considering a UK launch earlier than had been planned to offer the support to more people.

Calculus Capital investee IPV has announced the immediate launch of CuratorNow, a private cloud, remote editing studio for professional video editors and producers to continue to create the content their businesses need from home.

Able to be deployed in days, CuratorNow fast-tracks the ability of creatives to work from any location, including their home, with just basic Wi-Fi for project collaboration using the core tools of Curator, IPV’s proven flagship Media Asset Management platform, allowing for simple scalability and an easy upgrade path.

These examples are typical of UK entrepreneurship’s can-do rapid response attitude. We’re delighted to report them and will be happy to do so over the next few weeks; just contact andrew.sullivan@cliftonmedialab.com

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