OPENBRIDGE COVID-19: INITIATIVE GIVES $60 MILLION TO THREE INNOVATIONS TO DEAL WITH THE PANDEMIC
The call winning teams – organized by Know Hub Chile, OpenBeauchef and Santander X – have a maximum period of four months to test their technologies in health centres fighting the coronavirus. Additionally, Santander X Prize granted a total of $ 6 million to four teams of undergraduate and postgraduate students with technologies in early stages of development.
Three technologies won the OpenBridge Covid 19, a call organized by Know Hub Chile, OpenBeauchef, from University of Chile, and Santander X. The projects deal with Personal Protection Elements and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), having only one objective: reducing the risks of spreading the coronavirus among health staff and assistants at health centres. These solutions will receive up to $20 million – apart from methodology support, mentoring and supplies – for the development of their initiatives, so as to be transferred to health centres in a maximum period of four months.
One of the winners was Active Protection, from the Universidad Católica of Temuco (UCT), which will develop and validate medical bibs and shoe covers with copper nano-particles for health professionals. While the other two initiatives are linked to the University of Chile: Safe Vision Analytics, an image processing system in real time focused on social distancing compliance and checking the use of masks in health centres, and Medical Shield Staffing, a shift optimization system for the health staff in order to reduce contagion probability.
“As part of our responsibility to fight the pandemic from our expertise, we redirect resources and focus on the objective of our Know Hub Bridge programme – which seeks to take research results to the market rapidly – to science-based solutions to those health centres facing the coronavirus. But this is a job that requires to be done collaboratively, and that’s where working with OpenBeauchef and Santander X, with the entrepreneurs of our partner institutions and with health institutions, becomes essential”. Know Hub Chile executive director Javier Ramírez, comments. In fact, the Geriatric National Institution (INGER, in Spanish) and the University of Chile Clinical Hospital, also collaborate with OpenBridge Covid 19.
Claudio Maggi, executive director at OpenBeauchef, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre at the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics (FCFM) of University of Chile, stated that this call exceeded the organisers expectations, with the reception of 43 applications, considering times and context. “OpenBridge Covid-19 has had the merit of mobilizing a group of pertinent and relevant proposals in a short period of time, with a high level of technological maturity. We thank Know Hub Chile, the organizing team, evaluators, and also the applicants, since, undoubtedly, the selected projects make up a virtuous portfolio which will soon contribute with technological developments benefitting health centres and the community directly”, he explained.
Additionally, OpenBridge Covid-19 counted with “Santander X Prize” which granted a total of $6 million to four teams of undergraduate and postgraduate students with technologies in early stages of development: Social Distance Tracker (SDT), Nutrigest application, EUV sterilization device and the non-invasive ventilation helmet prototype (CdVNI).
Santander Universities Manager Rodrigo Machuca commented that this initiative “takes part in one of our action strategic axes, which through entrepreneurship and innovation, contribute to people’s progress with ideas that generate value to the society”. Besides, he remarks that this call, in alliance with OpenBeauchef and Know Hub Chile, represented a huge opportunity for Chilean entrepreneurs, most of whom are already creating or adapting solutions to deal, in the best possible way, with the challenges brought about by post Covid-19, and this award will enable them to develop their project and become a real contribution before this crisis.
While Fernando Hentzschel, Technological Capacities Manager at Corfo, added: “How can we lead the installed capacities we have in the country? Through challenges as clear as possible, in this case, around coronavirus. OpenBridge Covid-19 could provide a quick response to an emergency, because it already had the developed muscle, challenging their researchers network, which at the same time responded to the current crisis and to the next step, too: developing technologies which will help us to live post-health crisis, keeping social distance and preventing contagion outbreaks. As Corfo, we are really pleased with this call because we have multiplied the role of challenging the industry and the academy to improve everyone’s quality of life. Today in crisis, tomorrow post-crisis”.