Across Ireland examples of teamwork and innovation show a nation determined to defeat the Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak. Here are 17 businesses that have risen to the challenge with ingenuity.

Akkure

Hand stopping dominos.

Akkure, an Irish digital health start-up, has launched the ‘COVIDMedBot’, an online personalised risk assessment and guideline tool for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Akkure is based at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin. Free to use, the COVIDMedBot provides personalised risk assessment and guidelines, in line with the HSE recommendations and leveraging advice from the WHO and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regarding the COVID-19 virus. The tool is available online at https://www.akkure4covid.com/ and the assessment can be completed in 90 seconds. Founder of Akkure, Professor Oran Rigby MD said, “Our COVIDMedBot offers an efficient and reliable service benefiting the public, corporate sector, and Irish governing bodies during this high strain period for the health service. The COVIDMedBot’s data is based on the latest scientifically validated information from the HSE, the CDC and the WHO, along with doctors and medical experts at St. Vincent’s University Hospital.”

AMI

Woman in red blouse.

Faye Thomas, Chief Commercial Officer

AMI is helping companies whose staff need to work from home due to Coronavirus, by leasing and selling laptops to them. Faye Thomas, AMI’s Chief Commercial Officer said: “There is a worldwide shortage in laptops. Some companies are having to wait three months and more to get their hands on volumes of new laptops. In the last three days, we have rented 1,500 laptops on short term agreements and sold a further 3,000. Our business collects high quality laptops that companies are disposing of and securely deletes data and then refurbishes them for new users via our http://www.refreshedbyus.com/ website.”

Assay Genie

medical test kit on a purple background.

Assay Genie, a Reagent Genie brand, is preparing to release rapid Covid-19 testing kits that can provide results in 15 minutes. These kits can also potentially act as a clinical weapon against Coronavirus. The tests have been developed with the same technology contained in pregnancy kits and could reduce testing times from four hours down to 15 minutes. Founders Colm Ryan and Sean Mac Feharraigh met at UCD while studying biochemistry.

Better Examinations

Dark-haired man in blue shirt.

BetterExaminations has developed an online exam workflow tool that enables college staff to prepare and invigilate exams remotely, and students to securely take exams at home. BetterExaminations was founded by Trinity College students in 2015 and was recently acquired by Terminalfour, the Irish web content management provider to over 200 universities worldwide. Dan Hobbs, product manager and founder, BetterExaminations, said: “We’ve developed a secure e-assessment tool which allows colleges and students to overcome the current examination challenges caused by COVID-19. We’ve already had considerable interest from universities across the world in our new digital solution. Also, in addition to the current crisis, we know that the way students sit exams is completely out-of-date anyway. Many students find it unnatural to take exams using a pen and paper, and there are so many other inefficiencies with taking exams in this way. We have developed a service that will digitally transform the examination process now and into the future.”

Cadoo

Smiling man in blue shirt.

Mike Basile, product director, Cadoo

Cadoo is a leading Irish provider of messaging services, helping businesses, education institutions and other organisations to send more messages for less cost. Mike Basile, product director, Cadoo, said: “Cadoo is a home only for important messages, enabling schools, universities and businesses to send unlimited free messages, such as closure alerts and key updates on the coronavirus, directly to staff, students and parents. In this time of uncertainty, with rumours and false information circulating freely, Cadoo offers a platform for genuine, relevant and secure messages that people know are coming from a trusted source.”

Folens

Youn girl studying from a laptop.

To support home learning, Irish education publisher Folens is giving teachers, parents and students access to all digital resources and ebooks. Simply register as a teacher and use the special codes for primary (Prim20) and secondary (Sec20) school resources here

Irish Distillers/Mervue Laboratories

A bottle of Jameson beside a glass of whiskey.

Irish Distillers, makers of Paddy and Jameson Whiskey, is going to supply hand sanitising gel for free to the HSE in partnership with Cork firm Mervue Laboratories. Between them, the two companies are going to provide the HSE with large-scale quantities of alcohol-based hand sanitising gel to aid front line staff. According to Mervue Labs, its director William Twomey became concerned at the lack of supply of hand gel, a situation exacerbated by countries closing their borders and holding onto stocks and raw materials. Twomey decided to divert the company’s normal manufacturing and production facilities to tackle the hand gel shortage. “Mervue Laboratories are using the production facilities of our Watergrasshill factory to produce hand sanitising gels from this week onwards,” he said. “We have diverted staff from normal business which we have put on hold in the national interest in order to meet the unprecedented demand and the requirements of the HSE and the amazing front line staff.” One of the key ingredients of hand sanitizing gel is alcohol. “We at Mervue Laboratories have partnered with Irish Distillers based in Middleton. The team in Irish Distillers in Middleton came on board and offered to provide large-scale quantities of alcohol free of charge in order to get supplies to the HSE as soon as possible and to support the government in the fight against Covid-19/Coronavirus.”

Medtronic

As ThinkBusiness reported, in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, ventilator-maker Medtronic is ramping up its operation in its Galway factory as it seeks to more than double its capacity to manufacture and supply ventilators. There are currently 250 employees working at the Galway facility, dedicated to manufacturing the device, with plans to double that number imminently. “Medtronic recognises the demand for ventilators in this environment has far outstripped supply,” said Bob White, executive vice-president at Medtronic.  “No single company will be able to fill the current demands of global healthcare systems. However, with all manufacturers increasing their production and through partnerships with governments, hospitals and global health organisations, Medtronic is committed to getting more ventilators into the market and to the right locations in the world to help doctors and patients dealing with Covid-19,” he added. Medtronic employs more than 4,000 people across five sites in Galway, Dublin and Athlone, and has been in Ireland since 1981.

Nuahealth

Doctors consulting on computer.

Webdoctor clinical director Dr Sylvester Mooney with co-founder and CEO Oisin Kim

A new service has been launched by Nuahealth that allows 360 GPs and clinicians from all over Ireland to provide online consultations to patients with coronavirus symptoms. The Nuaheath service has been endorsed by the HSE following consultation with the Department of Health and is aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19. The virtual clinic service has been developed by NuaHealth and fast-tracked through the app stores, including iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android (smartphones and tablets). The NuaHealth service can be used on any laptop or desktop computer with a camera, speaker and microphone. “The Covid-19 crisis has seen my practice change beyond recognition in the last 10 days,” said Dr Nick Flynn of MyCorkGP.ie. “Central to facilitating that change has been the addition of a video consultation solution from NuaHealth. User friendly, secure and provided at cost price, it has proven popular with our GPs but more importantly with our patients.”

Olive Group

Smiling man with arms folded.

As some workers turn their homes into offices, others remain on the front lines. They must continue to carry out day-to-day duties while not putting themselves, or others, at greater risk of infection. Olive Group is an e-learning company providing distance training to businesses worldwide. Brendan Kavanagh, CEO, Olive Group, said: “We are producing online training in infection control for businesses. It was designed by healthcare professionals in conjunction with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland and doesn’t require participants to attend classes in-person. We are therefore supporting people’s efforts to socially distance themselves while also helping to minimise the spread of infection. We have also launched a cybersecurity campaign to help significantly reduce the risk of cyber breaches while people are working at home.”

OpenSky

Smiling man in suit and purple tie.

Michael Cronin, Managing Director, OpenSky

OpenSky is helping organisations to reduce the pressure on employees, while improving business operations during the Coronavirus pandemic by delivering Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions. RPA performs time-consuming, mundane and high-volume tasks with greater accuracy and efficiency. Michael Cronin, Managing Director, OpenSky, said: “Most businesses were considering RPA for the future but right now, it is a practical solution that can make a big difference for organisations in terms of the challenges we are currently facing. RPA can be implemented seamlessly and quickly (seven to 10 days) without any disruption to business operations, resulting in increased productivity and amplified customer satisfaction.”

Paradyn

Man in dark jacket, white shirt.

Cillian McCarthy, CEO, Paradyn

Paradyn is providing the full package of voice services, network access, applications and security services that enable home workers to be as productive from home as they are in the office.  Cillian McCarthy, CEO, Paradyn explained: “We are uniquely positioned to offer telephone and managed IT services to clients, so have never been busier helping customers continue in business, safe in the knowledge that their staff are not unduly exposed to health risks. We help teams to work efficiently by implementing communication and collaboration tools, including secure VPNs and seamless soft phone applications. Our mission is to enable businesses to operate as close as possible to normal conditions.”

PixAlert

Box cover of Gipsy product.

PixAlert is a 20-year-old Irish cyber security company that started in UCD. It specialises in finding porn and private data in corporate networks with clients that include governments, BIG 4, Banks, etc. Its its new Gipsy wireless router technology has arrived just in time for workers and families home-bound during the Covid-19 outbreak. The device, which can connect with every device in the house, lets families block porn, gambling and inappropriate sites. “Staying safe online can be confusing,” explained Ian Lucey, director with PixAlert. “You can’t possibly be expected to know how to secure the growing list of devices in your home. People assume that anti-virus is enough protection, but it can be useless for things like phishing attacks.”

Pure Telecom

Man in dark jacket, arms folded.

Paul Connell, CEO, Pure Telecom

For companies looking to help employees to socially distance and work from home, Pure Telecom offers an integrated broadband and cloud telephony solution whereby the employee can seem to be sitting at their office desk when they are actually working from home. Their office calls route seamlessly to their home office via a high-speed broadband link which also connects to the company network. Paul Connell, CEO of Pure explains, “We help home workers to do their jobs as if they were in the office.  Many companies are now choosing to cover the cost of this service for their employees, and uniquely, we can add the costs to the company bill. The company gets a simple, customised bill offering complete visibility, and the employee gets a free service.”

SureWash

Man in white shirt and glasses.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, SureWash has launched a hand-washing app to ensure health professionals, workers and the general public are correctly washing their hands to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. SureWash’s interactive software system uses augmented reality and is a scientifically validated training technology for the WHO hand hygiene protocol. The company is a founder member of WHO Private Organisations for Patient Safety (POPS) which helps the WHO promote safe hand hygiene in Healthcare. The app can be downloaded for iOS via the Apple Store and for Android via Google Play. SureWash, which is a spin-out from Trinity College Dublin, has already been working with 200 hospitals and a range of sports organisations across the world helping them implement hand hygiene training systems through the SureWash kiosks. “We use gamification and augmented reality to record the movement of the hands and give feedback on what they are doing correctly or incorrectly,” explained Prof Gerard Lacey. “Once they have done this process between 17 and 25 times, it will go into their muscle memory. The app tests your skills objectively as we can often convince ourselves we are doing it right but we are missing parts that harbour microbes.”

Wellola/HSE

The HSE has teamed up with Irish portal firm Wellola to launch of a new secure communication portal for GPs and primary care providers. HSE Covid19 Portal is an easy to use, digital tool which is designed to optimise clinician and patient safety. Based on existing technology already developed and tested by Wellola, the HSE-specific portal was created in just four days, after Wellola was contacted by the HSE last Thursday (12 March). Wellola is an Irish-owned patient portal firm which has been primarily focused on the mental healthcare market in Ireland and the UK. After getting the call from the HSE last week, it developed a specific portal responding to the urgent need to support GPs, primary care providers and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wellola CEO Sonia Neary said:“When we got the call last Thursday to help in the crisis, our small team didn’t hesitate to work with the HSE to develop the new portal for GPs and other primary care workers. “The portal is based on existing technology already developed and tested by Wellola. Our focus in this project was to ensure that an enhanced video functionality would work on every browser and device.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 20 March, 2020

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