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Portfolio Companies Working on Solutions for COVID-19 Related Issues

Innovation Works
Apr 3, 2020 · 9 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immediate impact on businesses across the globe. While companies work to innovate and protect their employees in this uncertain time, some are also offering extraordinary resources to support our communities. We are proud of our altruistic portfolio companies at the helm of these efforts.

The following are initiatives that our founders and their teams are undertaking in response to the disease outbreak:

Financial & Workforce Support

ARIN Technologies is offering a Social Distancing personal alerting capability and Contact Tracing for offices and industrial facilities. The Social Distancing wearable provides immediate audible alerts to workers when someone crosses their personal social distance threshold (6 feet) and then tracks the time that this threshold was breached as well as the minimum distance between the two people. This interaction information is stored for two weeks to enable contact tracing if required. Additionally, privacy of workers is maintained, so only authorized personnel can perform contact tracing in their facility. This product can also be extended to determine and target deep sanitation of spaces where an infected person may have worked.

Any company that may be interested in learning more about SocialDistancer can reach out to vivek@arintech.us.

BlastPoint’s data analytics tools enable utility companies to predict which customers will fall behind on payments in the coming months. Companies can then act quickly to enroll customers in assistance programs before they face shutoff. Additionally, the BlastPoint platform enables companies to target specific customer segments, increasing messaging effectiveness and helping to keep vulnerable customers’ accounts turned on during the pandemic.

Learn about BlastPoint’s data-driven personas, initiative-driven customer segmentation, and more: https://blastpoint.co/solutions/overview

Honeycomb Credit knows “that small businesses…are facing unprecedented uncertainty.” They “also know that there are hundreds of people in your community and the Honeycomb network that want to support you.”

​“To help deliver the working capital that businesses need, Honeycomb is offering 45-day payment free periods, 6-month interest-only periods and reducing our posting, success, and investor fees.” They’re “also streamlining [their] due diligence to connect businesses with local investors as quickly as possible. As always, these loans are community funded via the Honeycomb crowdfunding platform.

Apply: https://www.honeycombcredit.com/relief

JazzHR is hosting HR resources specific to running a business during COVID19.

Review their HR resources https://www.jazzhr.com/covid19

Module “is teaming up with Blockhouse Residential and Springboard Design to create the Covid-19 Modular Housing Task Force to build housing solutions to serve those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to better understand the problem at hand and how [they] can best help, [they’re] interviewing nurses, doctors, & those in leadership roles at healthcare organizations who can shed some light on what spatial challenges they’re facing as this crisis unfolds.”

“If you, or someone you know, is on the frontlines of what’s going on and would be interested in helping or doing a short 15-minute interview, please email drew[at]modulehousing.com.”

NetBeez launched their Remote Worker Network Performance Monitoring Solution, remote worker network performance monitoring solution to assist network and help desk teams in scaling to address new remote support demands. NetBeez reduces the amount of time and resources needed to diagnose root cause by measuring network performance based on user experience, boosting network team and user productivity. Field support and travel costs can also be substantially reduced.

For more information, visit the NetBeez Remote Worker Network Monitoring solution page.

Qualaris Healthcare Solutions has partnered with the Oakland Business Improvement District to launch the Oakland Safety Compliance Program. Funded with a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the program will help businesses mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by implementing CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines. Guidelines were chosen in consultation with UPMC and PR&LA. Digital spot checks and 3rd party secret shoppers will measure quality assurance. The rigorous quality data will be used in Safety Marketing Reports posted on-premise or on social media to help employees, customers and the community understand what businesses are doing to keep them safe.

To learn more about the program, (or to sign up, if you are a business in Oakland) visit oaklandsafety.qualaris.com.

Rhabit Analytics is offering a free pulse survey and engagement suite for companies to measure their employees’ experience and perception of the company’s response to the COVID-19 challenges. It allows companies to get real-time data from their employees regarding policies, procedures, and process changes as they continue to evolve and adjust. Rhabit’s customers are using this data to help understand the effects and outcomes of these changes faster and giving them the data they need to continue to make operational decisions. Rhabit also published a report on their findings for the first iteration of this free program.

To learn more and participate in a demo, visit https://rhabitanalytics.com/talent-management-software/pulse-surveys-for-covid19/

Yodel Labs Coyodel system optimizes your business’ infectious disease testing strategy with automatic contact tracing and intelligent analytics. Coyodel Contact Tracing Tags worn by your employees keep track of who they have been in close contact with, and how risky each interaction was. An employee showing symptoms or testing positive for an infectious disease like COVID-19 puts your business at risk. Coyodel uses advanced algorithms to automatically analyze the affected employee’s network of contacts, and generates prioritized testing recommendations so you can intelligently focus your testing and containment efforts.

Reach out to contact@yodellabs.com

Medical & Healthcare Resources

ALung Technologies is developing Hemolung, “a system with an artificial lung and developed at the University of Pittsburgh that removes carbon dioxide and delivers oxygen to the blood so that people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or acute respiratory therapy can be treated without intubation and ventilation.“ While their device is still in clinical trials and not yet approved by the FDA, it could be instrumental in local treatment of COVID-19 once approved for use. “‘Our device and our therapy is not a cure,’ DeComo said. ‘It’s a bridge to recovery.’ That’s because ventilators can save lives but in so doing, they can also cause more damage to the lungs.”

(Pittsburgh firm’s medical device treats respiratory failure. It believes it can help in COVID-19 crisis, Paul J. Gough, Pittsburgh Business Times)

Cytoagents is innovating on drug therapy that could treat COVID-19. “CytoAgents’ lead drug candidate modulates the body’s immune response to reduce tissue damage caused by an excessive immune reaction. This approach would decrease the tissue damage resulting from the excessive release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, known as the Cytokine Release Syndrome, which is induced by influenza and other viral infections. Our approach to treatment focuses on reducing the destructive impact of the Cytokine Release Syndrome. CytoAgents’ approach to therapy is independent of viral mutation and the development of viral resistance and therefore the therapeutic benefit applies broadly to all diseases triggering Cytokine Release Syndrome.”

Impact Proteomics is offering protein sample preparation kits and tools to those working on Coronavirus research.

LiquidX applied its expertise in liquid metals to imbed silver particles into mask inserts, which gives the material the added benefit of anti-microbial protection. They recently launched their new ComforTeX face mask, designed with comfort and security mind. The soft, breathable two-layer mask also comes with their antimicrobial filter insert.

Order your own at: https://liquid-x-printed-metals-inc.myshopify.com/

Nollapelli has recently introduced face masks to their line of offerings for the skin-conscious. These masks are made out of the same proprietary fabric as their sheets — and for every set purchased, they are donating a mask to frontline workers in need of protection.

Order a set of masks at: https://nollapelli.com/products/face-mask

Symmetric Health Solutions has been sending data and analysis to all customers and potential customers (hospitals) to help source critical supplies — including appropriate product substitutes and information about where the items are manufactured.

Thar Process is “using its existing technology to build machines that can rapidly sanitize up to 50,000 medical masks daily, This would enable safe recycling of key medical equipment, but requires rigid tests for validation.”

(Crisis Has Jump-Started America’s Innovation Engine. What Took So Long?, John D. Stroll, Wall Street Journal)

Qualaris is offering a free COVID-19 infection prevention kit to help healthcare organizations adhere to evolving CDC guidelines.

VIT is helping companies get back to work with a new symptom tracker and temperature screening system to stay compliant with CDC guidelines. VIT’s system is mobile based and easy to check in employees as they return to the office. Depending on a company’s situation, they offer free options.

If you’re interested or know of other companies that this could benefit, email Andy at andy.chan[at]vitinitiative.com. For additional information visit: www.vitinitiative.com/covid-19-tracking

Special Mention | ZuMantra, a Startable 2019 program graduate, has been collaborating with their cooperatives of women artisans in South Asia to develop handmade, protective face masks from custom-designed fabrics. All profits from these masks will go back to these women artisans, who have been severely impacted by COVID-19. These masks can be washed, reused, and reworn. For each mask bought, one mask will be donated to local Pittsburgh nonprofit, 412 Food Rescue.

ZuMantra face masks are now available for pre-order on their website.

At-Home Education & Entertainment

Diamond Kinetics encourages everyone to continue playing baseball and softball at home with their products. To keep you moving, they’re offering discounts on their hardware and software.

Improve your swing: https://diamondkinetics.com/

Digital Dream Labs is offering at-home versions of many of their games to supplement at-home education.

Preview the bundle: https://www.digitaldreamlabs.com/pages/proud-screentime

Flexable Care: The global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has exacerbated the pressure on working parents and will likely lead to sustained increases in the use of virtual platforms. In light of this, Flexable quickly pivoted away from offering on-site childcare to launch Virtual MiniCamps, engaging modules that keep kids aged 3 –10 connecting and growing while at home and provide parents brief reprieve for work or self-care. They soft launched the platform and are partnering with entities like the Pittsburgh Tech Council to support working parents where they are — at home.

Explore at: http://flexablecare.com/flexable-virtual-minicamps

PittMoss is delivering recycled soil with seed packets so you can start a Victory Garden at home.

Browse their recycled soil and other products: https://pittmoss.com/collections/products

Romeo Delivers has 18 great suggestions for engaging your families at home.

Check off their Coronavirus Bucket List — you can also download the resource to always have on hand.

Zoobean “helps educators, librarians, and families read more by creating, promoting, participating in, and gaining insights from reading challenges” all from the comfort of their homes.

Try one of their many apps and read their expert advice on their blog. Recently, they offered 3 crucial tips for launching a virtual summer reading program.

Innovation Works Assistance

We’ve been busy behind the scenes addressing the needs of our portfolio companies and understanding new state and federal legislation. We offer our support and guidance to support our local tech start-ups during this uncertain time. Our team is also compiling a Google Doc sharing real-time resources for local businesses.

In addition, members of the IW staff are working tirelessly to get critical personal protective equipment to our healthcare workers via www.ppeconnectpgh.com. Whether you have supplies to share or you need them, this resource was built for you.

If you know of any other companies that have graduated from our accelerators, AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear, and/or received Seed Fund support from Innovation Works that should be on this list, please reach out to Alessandra at ahartkopf[at]innovationworks.org.

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