Europe’s leading start-ups are already on the front line

A large number of technology start-ups around the world have launched healthcare projects to help fight the coronavirus.

Many of these are in China, where for example the Little Peanut robot serves food to quarantined travellers, and drones built by Shenzhen-based manufacturer DJI dispense health advice. But European startups have also risen to the occasion, supplying hospital robots, hi-tech logistics and artificial intelligence for drug and vaccine research.

One example is BenevolentAI, a UK-based company renowned for the production of AI systems for conducting research into drugs to treat chronic diseases, which within a few weeks of the outbreak of the virus has used artificial intelligence to identify a range of potentially useful drugs. UVD Robots, a spin-out of Danish startup Blue Ocean Robotics, has developed self-guided disinfection robots that use ultraviolet light to completely eliminate viruses and bacteria. The robot uses advanced algorithms and special sensors to cover all surfaces with the right amount of light. The systems are already being used in Chinese hospitals and sold in over 40 countries worldwide.

Swiss firm SkyCell is using special containers for the transport of temperature-sensitive medicines. These containers use a combination of hardware, software and big data to maintain a constant temperature of between 2-8°C and 15-25°C for more than 160 hours. They are also able to recharge automatically in a cold environment (e.g. cold storage rooms) and have a negligible temperature deviation rate (just 0.1%). SkyCell ships pharmaceutical products to 90 countries worldwide, including Brazil, India and China, and has an average annual revenue growth of 350%.