Teaming up to boost the world’s recovery from COVID-19
Mark Hopper (Aerial Technologies), Shawn Stein (Neura) and Miri Berger (6Degrees) apply innovation to solve pressing socioeconomic issues during COVID-19.
December 15, 2020
In early 2020, IESE joined forces with 13 other organizations from around the world to launch Restarting Together. They put out a call to the world’s startup community to come up with actionable, scalable solutions that could both accelerate economic recovery and create a more resilient society in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 550 startups from 59 countries answered the call, before three winners were chosen in September.
The winners were chosen after making a digital pitch to a jury of innovation experts from these 14 organizations (listed alphabetically): Airbus BizLab, BASF, Boston Consulting Group, CEMEX, Citi, Endeavor, IDB Lab, IE University, IESE, Mapfre, Microsoft for Startups, Navantia, South Summit and Telefónica.
Restarting Together is a great example of how cross-industry organizations can work together and support entrepreneurs and our society during these challenging and uncertain times. By joining forces, we were able to build a solid value proposition for startups while increasing our reach and impact
The winners gain access to the reach and resources of the organizing partners to develop their solutions, including commercial acceleration services, technology tools, access to events, training and investment.
For its part, IESE will provide mentoring, a workshop on corporate venturing (helping the entrepreneurs to optimize their collaboration with corporations) as well as the opportunity to pitch to IESE’s Business Angels Network and Finaves venture capital fund.
The organizers are also free to explore the potential to develop, promote or implement any of the other proposals submitted.
The three winners demonstrate how innovation can be used to solve pressing global issues. Here they share their tips for how others can do the same.
Meet the needs of vulnerable communities
Miri Berger, CEO and Co-founder, 6Degrees
Won for: Enhancing infrastructure adaptiveness and resilience
The past year has been challenging for many people who have suddenly found themselves unemployed. But of all the people who lost their jobs, people with disabilities have been particularly affected.
Although social distancing is essential in the fight against the coronavirus, these rules are especially burdensome for those dealing with limited motion and mobility. Many disabled people will become severely isolated, as social and educational organizations that were a significant part of their daily routines are closed.
For many, these problems are compounded by difficulties in connecting to smart devices and online platforms such as Zoom, which further limit their ability to communicate with their loved ones. Loneliness and depression may follow.
The impetus for our startup was the personal experience of our co-founder, Aryeh Katz, a veteran who was injured during his military service. The difficulties he experienced in regaining his independence during his rehabilitation drove him to create a solution for people with limited movement.
Our solution, MyMove, is a wearable band that enables hands-free control for people who have lost motor skills, ensuring they can still access any smart device to maintain or reclaim their independence.
As social distancing and lockdown measures continue throughout the world, being able to communicate with family and friends, staying connected to your communities and support networks, as well as shopping online, are critical activities. Our solution opens up new possibilities for employment and other opportunities that were not available beforehand, all without leaving the house.
Be guided by collaborations
Shawn Stein, Head of Global Marketing and Strategy, Neura
Country: United States
Won for: Revamping the economy through sustainable growth
Forty-eight hours: That’s all the time there is to recognize a transmission trend and break it before turning into a pandemic. Neura empowers governments and health organizations to make data-driven decisions when tackling COVID-19.
Our behavioral intelligence platform uses advanced AI and machine-learning algorithms to merge and transform vast amounts of epidemiological and behavioral data into predictive models and actionable insights. These insights are made available to decision-makers to understand and act proactively in order to get ahead of the pandemic, cut the infection chain and allow economies to reopen safely.
By targeting high-infection areas and at-risk locations, decision-makers can prioritize their scarce resources, deploy first responders or target communication where and when transmission happens. And they can do so in the most precise way, maximizing economic growth while minimizing infection risks to the population.
The global reach of Restarting Together enables us to communicate with as many people as possible. By using the power of that reach, we can make smarter decisions together and collectively avoid transmission, helping to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.
Leverage existing resources in creative new ways
Mark Hopper, Vice President, Product Management, Aerial Technologies
Won for: Ensuring life continuity, and boosting social inclusion and community
The aging population is a global challenge. The way we support our elders isn’t sustainable and needs to change. Current solutions tend to rely on expensive hardware, where human errors can be common, and nursing homes, which are getting crowded and in many countries became ground zero for deadly COVID-19 outbreaks.
Our solution gets around these issues by providing a sensing technology that is affordable and effortless, and which empowers seniors, and their caregivers, in independent living situations by enabling safe, remote care. Using AI models and motion intelligence, Aerial can infer motion activities and time-critical events. Our technology uses an existing Wi-Fi connection to detect disruptive motions in the home, which can be applied not only to remote care but to home automation and security as well.
In coming up with our solution, we thought creatively about how to reuse existing technologies and resources. Millions of households already have Wi-Fi, so we figured we could use that existing infrastructure without adding any additional hardware. Doing it that way makes our solution more affordable, at only a few dollars a month; more robust, as we evolve with each future Wi-Fi upgrade; and more adaptive, as the AI in our product can work in any type of home and according to each person’s behavioral patterns and needs.
Restarting Together represents what Aerial is all about: leveraging innovative technology to make people’s lives better while working together with others to ensure the best possible solutions to current and future problems. It has been inspiring to see so many entrepreneurs looking to be part of a global solution.
This story is published in IESE Business School Insight #157.