Adversity brings out the best in some people and a challenge such as Coronavirus has spurred a number of organisations into action. We have been very interested to see how organisations have leveraged the cluster to accelerate innovation and have created a Response to COVID-19 section on the website to highlight this innovation.
Improved testing for Coronavirus – cheap, DIY, home-based testing would be a game changer, enabling confirmation that key workers are free of the illness and others freedom to travel and work. Iceni Diagnostics is fast-tracking a method of identifying the virus using its unique signature of sugars, unlike DNA these codes do not change, enabling the diagnostics to have a high degree of accuracy and long life expectancy.
The challenge of shortage of labour and disrupted supply chains stimulated the Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology to take an Open Innovation approach to find automation solutions. The initial fact finding webinar had an enthusiastic response, much from non-traditional players.
Reducing food miles for urban populations – vertical farming enables more fresh produce to be grown in smaller areas. LettUs Grow has fast-tracked production of two of its farm modules and will be donating the produce to those in need in Bristol.
Cambridge companies to meet COVID-19 ventilator challenge in 6 weeks – Cambridge Consultants is working collaboratively to develop and manufacture next generation ventilators.
Prediction of customer demand and crop yields is not based on algorithms that are appropriate for the current situation. Mantle Labs and Agri-EPI have come together to offer the support of its visualisation platform Geobotanics, free of charge to overcome this issue.
Reduced field inspections – remote monitoring can take the place of field visits, deemed ‘non-essential’. METOS has seen an increase in demand for its wireless, solar powered monitoring systems.
Shortage of PPE, hand sanitiser and ventilators – the Norwich Research Park is utilising all its resources and those of non-traditional suppliers to develop faster ways to deliver these essential supplies to the NHS.
Maintaining safe working distances – Pathfindr has rapidly developed a custom version of its Asset Beacon for safe personal distancing in the workplace. The device emits a short audible alarm when another wearer is detected within 2 metres, advising both wearers to check and increase their distance.
Supporting early-stage companies – many companies are struggling and the innovative ones are at risk of being lost which will have a long term impact on the economy. The Satellite Applications Catapult and Barclays Eagle Labs are among several members offering signposting to resources to support this pipeline.
To read more about these developments look at our “Response to COVID-19 “ section.