Tech Tackles Covid-19

Tech firms around the country are focusing on alleviating the Covid-19 crisis. From medtech to the Internet of Things, here’s a rapid roundup of innovation solutions from across Ireland, writes CHARLIE TAYLOR.


Many Irish businesses may be on hold, but whether it is providing supports for frontline workers or helping to come up with diagnostic solutions, tech companies are answering the call to alleviate the crisis

Trinity Biotech, the Irish-founded Nasdaq-listed company, is close to completing a test to quickly detect Covid-19 and is developing a second test to indicate who has immunity. Other companies producing diagnostic tests include Co Antrim-company Randox, Limerick’s Serosep, and Dublin-based Hibergene, which is developing a test to deliver results within 60 minutes.

Elsewhere, Reagent Genie has developed a testing kit for researchers including academics and companies involved in developing a vaccine.

Aalto Bio Reagents has previously played a role in tackling serious tropical viruses such as Zika, dengue and yellow fever. It produces 300 different reagents used to diagnose diseases, including coronavirus.

Away from testing, other Irish tech firms are trying to help healthcare professionals work more effectively. Swiftqueue, for example, is helping test centres manage appointments for those getting tested for Covid-19.

Waterford’s NearFrom is working with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to develop a mobile tracing app for Covid-19. The app will quickly notify people who have been in contact with someone who has tested for the disease so they can take the steps to protect themselves and others

Poppulo, an Irish company whose communications software platform is used by organisations to communicate with more than 25 million employees globally, is making its technology free to use for healthcare workers in Ireland. The HSE has already taken up the offer to better communicate with frontline workers.

Wellola recently teamed up with the HSE to develop an online portal that allows GPs and healthcare providers to treat people remotely so as to protect themselves from Covid-19. Among the services it enables are online bookings, video consultations, secure messaging and online forms to help with triaging.

Air purification systems company Novaerus is providing portable air disinfection units for use in healthcare settings, while Galway’s Aerogen has an aerosol drug delivery system for treating patients in respiratory distress without affecting ventilation.

With everyone anxious to avoid crowds, Internet of Things (IoT) company Taoglas, has come up with an analytics solution called Crowd Insight that can help organisations to better manage crowd sizes and social distancing.

Newswhip, a news analytics platform, is helping the corporate sector gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the coronavirus on their brands, while Corlytics is providing a solution specifically for financial institutions that keeps them abreast of regulatory and risk-related developments related to the pandemic.

SilverCloud Health, an Irish tech company that provides online therapy and wellness programmes, has made its platform available to about 150 million end users for free with frontline workers in the HSE and NHS among those using it. Similarly, Kerry-headquartered PulseLearning is gifting its rapid response mental health and wellbeing programme to Irish business in response to Covid-19.

SureWash, another Irish start-up, recently launched a hand-washing app for health professionals, workers and the general public. Educational technology group Olive, meanwhile, has launched a new training platform that allows for remote staff learning, upskilling and regulatory compliance.

It’s not only businesses that are responding to the Covid-19 crisis -- other tech experts are too. One initiative that has made headlines globally is a crowd-sourced project to develop easy-to-assemble mechanically operated ventilators. The brainchild of Colin Keogh, it focuses on building ventilators using 3D printers and off-the-shelf components. The HSE has agreed to test the prototypes, which may not be used locally but could be put to use elsewhere.

Separately, I-Form, the advanced manufacturing research facility based in University College Dublin (UCD), has designed a 3D-printed face shield that is being delivered to frontline workers.

Other areas under investigation by its researchers include the production of protective goggles and ventilator-related technological aids.

CALT Dynamics, based in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, has developed a prototype protective visor that can be produced rapidly, again using 3D printing

The Code Institute is providing bootcamps, while KnowCanDo, a platform that focuses on lifestyle, rather than corporate or academic learning, has seen a doubling of students for its causes, which cover everything from car maintenance to dog training.

A new non-exclusive royalty-free licence has been created by Irish third level institutes in collaboration with Knowledge Transfer Ireland to allow researchers to share intellectual property with industry to help bring an end to the Covid-19 crisis. Also noteworthy is a collaboration between InterTrade Ireland and TechIreland to produce an online map that shows groups working across different coronavirus solutions.

It may be some time before things return to normal, if they ever do. But if the crisis is showing us anything, it is that Irish tech is ready and able to adapt to this rapidly changing situation.