Sci & Tech

Startups Helping Combat Covid-19

Startups Helping Combat Covid-19
Startups Helping Combat Covid-19

The novel coronavirus pandemic has created a storm in healthcare systems around the globe, including Iran. 
This unexpected situation has intensified demand for smart solutions to support healthcare providers and reduce the transmission of the virus.
Fortunately, the growing technology ecosystem in Iran is increasingly involved in developing protection against the virus in several ways.
While startups are smaller economic units, they are best suited to respond to critical needs on a strict deadline. 
In the past seven months, diligent startups and knowledge-based companies, with a commitment to do what is needed to help curb the spread of Covid-19, have helped stock the shelves of drugstores with health products such as facemasks and sanitizers; which shelves were swept clean by the public’s panic purchases in the early days of outbreak in February.
According to the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, a fervent supporter of the growing tech ecosystem, homegrown tech firms have managed to produce two types of coronavirus test kits, one for blood and the other for saliva.
“Surgical and N95 facemasks are being produced in the country and soon 40 new production lines will be added to the current capacity,” the vice president, Sorena Sattari, told reporters.
In addition, local companies are producing tons of hand and surface sanitizers of different kinds, making the country self-sufficient in supplying these products.
Stepping beyond the aforementioned consumer goods, Iranian tech teams have almost fulfilled the health sector’s demand for high-tech medical devices. 
Sattari noted that hospitals are not facing any shortage of health devices and equipment, including CT Scan machines, ventilators, ICU and surgery room equipment, oxygen concentrators, blood oxygen meters and BiPAP machines. 
Ozone generators, which sterilize and purify the air via O3 molecules, ventilators, nanotechnology face shields, medical and surgery gowns, silicone gloves and hospital oxygen capsules are among the products successfully localized by the tech ecosystem. 
The knowledge-based firms and startups are also working on providing accessible telemedicine, smart health platforms and remote care tools to ease the public pursuing their health conditions.
Synapse, a tech firm at Samsung AUT Tech (a substitute of Amir Kabir University of Technology) specialized in equipping hospitals with smart technologies, is working on a system that converts the documented information of visiting patients and converts them into digital data.
The database is connected to Synapse’s smartphone application called “InLab” that can be used by physicians and other medical staff. 
The app gives doctors full remote access and helps them review patients’ test results and write prescriptions.  



State Support

The negative effects of the outbreak, however, have severely hit a major part of startups, tech firms and knowledge-based companies, despite their diligent efforts to help buttress the fight against the coronavirus.
As a result, Iranian authorities are increasing support to these entities.
In mid-March, the government-backed Iran National Innovation Fund started paying 50 trillion rials ($161.3 million) in loans to knowledge-based companies and tech firms to boost their operations.
With the Covid-19 outbreak thrashing the Iranian startup ecosystem’s prospects, the state fund has extended an aid package to the sector.
According to INIF chief, Ali Vahdat, some 200 firms expressed interest in receiving the fund, although only the most eligible will be selected.
“The move is aimed at increasing the production of health-protective items needed during the pandemic, including facemasks, hand sanitizers, alcohol-based disinfectants and medical air disinfectant machines, along with antibacterial fabrics and covers for hospital use,” he said.
To receive the loan and start production, the applicant knowledge-based company should be certified by all the institutions involved, including Iran’s Food and Drug Administration and Health Ministry.
Vahdat noted that the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology and Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council have agreed to scrutinize the credentials of applicants and introduce the final list of eligible firms.
Referring to the spread of novel coronavirus in the country, Vahdat said the pandemic cannot be controlled without utilizing the potentials of the domestic tech ecosystem.
“The country’s knowledge-based economy, which has currently grown significantly, is being helped by young entrepreneurs and tech teams to withstand the negative effects of the disease,” he added.
The coronavirus has so far infected 38,050,078 people around the world, claiming the lives of 1,085,493. The number of recovered cases has reached 28,609,250, according to a Reuters report on Friday. 
By Tuesday, the virus has taken the lives of 28,816 people out of a total of 504,281 infected people in Iran. 
According to Iran’s Health Ministry, 409,121 patients have so far recovered from the disease.

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