April 3, 2020

With the President’s signing into law the CARES Act on Monday, including the Paycheck Protection Plan that will provide billions of dollars of loans to small businesses, there’s hope that small and young businesses that provide jobs to the greatest number of Americans will be able to play that important role moving forward. Tens of thousands of small businesses and startups have submitted applications to keep Americans working.

Meanwhile adversity and empathy guide researchers, entrepreneurs, union and business leaders #StoptheSpread of the pandemic and to help those impacted by the tremendous consequences of COVID19.

Small businesses can act now

Applications are being accepted for the Paycheck Protection Plan loans. Find out exactly what to do and when on the SBA website.

Signs of hope on the research front

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are optimistic about a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 — that causes COVID-19. Their vaccine, in early trials, is named PittCoVacc, short for Pittsburgh Coronavirus Vaccine and is delivered into the system via a fingertip-sized patch of needles made from sugar and proteins. It’s similar to the way smallpox vaccines are administered. This trial vaccine shows promise of potentially producing enough antibodies to fight SARS-CoV-2 and neutralize the virus.

Novel Ways of Detecting the Virus

Businesses want to protect employees and visitors from others who might be displaying symptoms of the coronavirus. With some offices, manufacturing facilities and buildings still open, how would anyone know if someone came in with a fever? Kogniz (SF Bay Area-based Ulupreneurs) provides real-time thermal scanning of crowds, using a company’s existing surveillance equipment, to detect and alert for the presence of individuals with fevers. Their technology can also be used to identify people with whom that person may have come into contact.

Dogs are used to help detect things like prostate cancer, diabetes and even Parkinson’s Disease. In the UK, a non-profit known as Medical Detection Dogs is putting the canines to the test for COVID19 to see if they can be effective in sniffing out the virus.

Unions and Manufacturers Pivot to Face COVID-19

Most of us aren’t wearing suits and ties to shelter in place (except maybe from the waist up for video interviews). Now America’s oldest retailer Brooks Brothers says it is retrofitting factories to make 150,000 masks per day for first responders and healthcare professionals.

Unions push for better protections for grocery workers 

We may not have realized it before, but we know it now: grocery workers are essential to our survival. A few short weeks ago, many grocery clerks weren’t allowed to wear masks. Now many stores have put up plexiglass protective shields at cash registers and employees wear masks and gloves. United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) locals are pushing groceries to adopt measures that will help protect workers and shoppers. They are lobbying state and local governments to enact critical worker safety policies, such as reclassifying grocery clerks as essential personnel, providing access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and imposing limits on the number of people admitted to stores at any one time.

On the tech frontier

StartX, the startup accelerator with more than 1500 Stanford faculty and alumni founders, launched its StartX Med COVID-19 Task Force. More than 70 StartX innovators are focused on making medical breakthroughs for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of coronavirus and to mobilize efforts to address public health needs during the pandemic. The task force of leading scientists, physicians and professor entrepreneurs will collaborate on outreach to government agencies, regulatory bodies and healthcare systems in the interest of public health. Eric Sokol of AVA, Stanford MD and Ulupreneur, participated in StartX Med’s Covid-19 demo day, where he showcased AVA Breathe, which he calls “the world’s smallest smart connected personal air purifier”.

Battling online threats to healthcare organizations

While some may experience the problems with hackers bombing Zoom meetings, there are also other threats online, some of them threatening first response efforts. A group of 400 cybersecurity experts have joined the COVID19 CTI League. The top priority will be combatting hacks against medical facilities and other frontline responders to the pandemic. It is already working on hacks of health organizations.

On the job(less) front

Guild Education CEO and Ulupreneur Rachel Carlson, who spearheaded a call to action to corporate leaders to help communities affected by COVID-19 in a campaign called #StoptheSpread, promised no layoffs at her company for 90 days. Now other big business leaders are taking the pledge as well.

Now a glimpse on the other side of chaos

And finally, an uplifting look by Sarah Adams Anderson on how adversity leads to innovation.

If you’ve got good news about how entrepreneurs, research and/or businesses are stepping up, please share it with us! You can put a brief description and links in this Google doc.

All references and hyperlinks (to specific products, medical devices, processes, services, companies, stories, articles, or other materials) are for informational purposes only and do not constitute affiliation, endorsement, or recommendation by Ulu, or that such products have been approved by relevant governmental authorities. Nothing herein is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. All product and company names mentioned herein are the trademarks, service marks, or trade names of their respective owners and all rights are reserved to them. 

About the Author: Miriam Rivera

, Adversity and Sometimes a Little Empathy Lead to Innovation
Miriam Rivera is co-founder and managing director of Ulu Ventures