Many of America’s startups are currently researching and producing advanced technologies needed to fight COVID-19. Nimble, high-growth companies have frequently re-defined the boundaries of science and technology, and many startups are using their capabilities and expertise to find and develop the technology-driven solutions needed to get past this pandemic.
Some of these companies were previously in the healthcare space and have shifted their resources to specifically address COVID-19, while many companies in other sectors have pivoted from core business activities to do their part. NVCA has created a tracker with a number of examples of startups supporting the fight against COVID-19 on our website. Here are a few highlights of those companies and their efforts:
Moderna is pioneering a new class of medicines made of messenger RNA (“mRNA”) and has been approved for a Phase 2 clinical trial for an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. Early results from the first human study of Moderna’s experimental coronavirus vaccine gave a positive signal about the vaccine’s ability to protect people—inducing immune responses in some of the healthy volunteers who were vaccinated—offering a preliminary but promising sign about one of the most advanced coronavirus vaccines in development.
2. Clear Labs
Clear Labs has developed an automated, fast, and cost-effective next generation sequencing platform for deep-screening of COVID-19, which can simultaneously screen for the infection and generate deep genomic information that enables differentiating various RNA viruses, identifying infection clusters and transmission events, monitoring the evolution of viral genes that are therapeutic targets, and identifying cases of co-infections. According to Clear Labs, this solution significantly reduces rates of false negatives observed in existing gold standard technologies, and helps health care providers with the prognosis of COVID-19 cases.
3. Alnylam Pharmaceuticals & Vir Biotechnology
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Vir Biotechnology are developing a cell therapy candidate (VIR-2703) that takes a new approach to potentially treating COVID-19 by using RNA interference (RNAi) technology that targets and silences specific genetic material, blocking the production of deadly proteins that cause diseases. Alnylam and Vir also plan to identify up to three additional drug candidates to treat COVID-19, and potentially other coronavirus diseases, as part of their expanded collaboration.
Formlabs is dedicated to helping the medical community use 3D printing to address the COVID-19 pandemic and associated supply chain shortages. Formlabs is working with dozens of hospitals, health systems, and government agencies around the world on various projects spanning COVID-19 testing, PPE, and medical equipment, including facemasks and COVID-19 testing swabs.
NeuMoDx is a diagnostic company that reallocated resources to rapidly develop and launch a fully automated test for COVID-19 that provides results in just over an hour. The company shipped 200,000 tests in April and is scaling up to over 250,000 per month.
Avitide is focused on the development of purification technologies for biomanufacturers. Avitide has entered into an agreement to have its proprietary ‘affinity ligands’ (an important “lock-and-key model” for biological recognition) incorporated into a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. In addition, discussions are underway with 3 companies for the development of manufacturing purification technologies to aid in the process intensification and scalability of COVID-19 therapies and vaccines.
7. LifeAire Systems
Pending U.S. FDA Emergency Use Authorization approval, LifeAire Systems will introduce a portable, rapid, chemical-free decontamination unit for N95 masks. LifeAire’s Decontamination Unit is designed to kill COVID-19 and all other bacteria, viruses, and fungi on the surface and within the layers of the mask. According to LifeAire Systems, it is capable of disinfecting more than 10,000 masks per day per unit and treated N95 masks are ready for safe and immediate use in fewer than 3 minutes and can be safely decontaminated up to 100 times, creating significant cost savings for hospitals and public health agencies.
8. Orbital Insight
Orbital Insight is leveraging global satellite imagery and anonymized cell phone location data, state of the art machine learning algorithms, and cloud computing to provide actionable insights in response to the COVID-19 crisis. It recently provided geospatial analytics to monitor and report on use cases such as supply chain disruption, patterns of life monitoring, and shelter-in-place compliance. Agencies such as the Department of Defense, the states of California and New York, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency have leveraged Orbital Insight for support to their ongoing operations and efforts around this growing crisis. Further, Orbital Insight has been designated as possessing critical infrastructure to U.S. national security for this crisis.
MedHaul is a software platform connecting patients and providers to non-emergency medical transportation. Many of the markets it serves have experienced a substantial decrease in the availability of public transportation options that are often used by patients going to doctor’s appointments or urgent care. MedHaul has worked tirelessly to increase capacity as municipalities and other customers have dramatically increased utilization of their platform. MedHaul is supporting true frontline work during this pandemic.
10. Verde Mantis
Personal protective face shields are vital for healthcare workers and others in the fight against COVID-19. Verde Mantis, manufacturer of the Mantis 3D Printer, is producing the face shields in volume, as well as sharing its production file with other companies.
Learn more about the critical work being done by VC-backed companies to combat COVID-19 on our tracker on our COVID-19 webpage.
And if you are a VC that has a portfolio company that is working on COVID-19 related issues, or are a VC-backed company working on COVID-19 issues, please share your story with us by completing this short survey.
As the Manager of Communications and Digital Strategy at NVCA, Devin plays a central role in NVCA’s communications operation, communicating with key constituencies in the entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as enhancing NVCA’s brand in Washington, D.C. Devin develops and executes on the organization’s communications and public relations strategies and creates media content to support them.