In January 2020, the world woke up to a grim reality: with cases confirmed on almost every continent, Covid-19, a virus originally emanating from China, had begun to wind its way around the globe. Scientists began working to understand how the new virus acted and spread, doctors & nurses prepared hospital beds for an unforeseeable amount of patients, and public health officials issued dire warnings.
As it became evident that the virus would not stop at China’s borders, Grenoble Alpes’ local community of innovators sprang into action, drawing on existing synergies between industry, academia and research, in order to invent, repurpose and mass produce solutions that would respond to the new and unfamiliar challenges posed by Covid-19.
A trailblazer for innovative technologies, Grenoble Alpes is internationally-recognized as a leader in nanosciences, new energies and medtech. It is also at the heart of one of Europe’s most productive industrial regions: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
It is not surprising that, within weeks, large and small companies alike, in addition to cutting-edge research labs, large universities and even enterprising individuals, had all risen to the challenge of Covid-19. For months now, in conjunction with national and regional efforts, the local community has been working to propose new solutions that respond to the virus. These solutions have ranged from blood tests and protective equipment (like masks & face shields), to new nanomaterials with anti-viral properties and novel medical imaging techniques.
Despite the significant physical and social barriers of the confinement period, many of these innovations have stemmed from interdisciplinary and inter-organizational collaborations. A testament to Grenoble Alpes’ tenacity and the local community’s desire to provide concrete solutions in a time of need.
A brief look at some locally-made solutions:
x PRODUCTION OF HYDROALCOHOLIC HAND SANITIZERS: Chartreuse diffusion, Antésite, Bigallet, Domaine des hautes glaces, Séqens, Concord Textile, PHM, Nemera …
x MASKS & PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: Luz’in, Athletics 3D, Deko 3D by Sepia, Mdb Texinov, Evercleanhand , Coho, RocamRoll, Porcher Industries, Hellomoov (Akeoplus + Pharmaplan), Mare Nostrum, Serripub, Hellomoov, Laveo, A3D PROJECT …
x OTHER TYPES OF SUPPORT FOR THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY: Pharminity, Keymaging, Arc Industrie, Kairntech, LPTENT, Technosens, Trixell, Fotia DMT, Serge Ferrari Group…
x TESTING & VACCINES Biomérieux, Smart Bioscience, Roche …
x SOLIDARITY & DONATIONS: Une petite Mousse, Veertus, Wizbee, Bonnat, AgilyBox + all the companies who donated protective gear to medical professionals…
x INNOVATIVE TEAMS & PROJECTS: Makair, Sleepinov, Safeway, Ocov, Fondation UGA, Shields Grenoble Covid19
In more detail:
- A3D PROJECT: 3D Printing solutions & consultancy company, they have made a new type of face shield with a 200 micron PVC visor that protects medical staff from droplets that may transmit the virus.
- AGILYBOX: digital platform for community building, it has offered a free version of its platform to local municipalities in order to manage emergencies among neighbors.
- ARC INDUSTRIES: restarted its sheet metal production to provide supplies to SULO, a company that produces waste receptacles for high-risk medical environments.
- ATHLETICS 3D: startup that designs biathlon rifles, has dedicated 10 of its 3D printers to the production of masks based an open source design – “NanoHack” – by Copper 3D. Four hospitals are testing the masks & a larger production scheme is being coordinated. Athletics 3D is raising money on leetchi to buy raw materials for the masks: plastic charged in copper nanoparticles with antiviral and antibacterial properties.
- BIOMERIEUX: has developed 3 real-time PCR tests & 2 antibody tests – all tested, approved & considered “excellent” by the National Reference Center for viral respiratory infections.
- BONNAT: local chocolate company created collector chocolate bars, with illustrations on its packaging that honor the personnel that has been on the front lines during the pandemic. For each chocolate bar sold, another is donated to medical personnel.
- CHARTREUSE DIFFUSION, ANTESITE, BIGALLET & LE DOMAINE DES HAUTES GLACES… Local distilleries that dedicated a part of their production line to making hydro alcoholic hand sanitizer.
- COHO & ROCAMROLL: 2 startups that have joined “Shields Grenoble Covid19”, a network that has distributed 4,600 face shields to date.
- CONCORD TEXTILE: manufacturer of hygienic products and professional detergents, added hydro alcoholic hand sanitizer to its catalogue, offering various size formats for professionals.
- DEKO 3D by Sepia: has provided hundreds of face shields to Grenoble’s University Hospital, all made on their large 3D printer. Sepia is a visual communications company and the 3D printer is normally used for the creation of visual marketing tools.
- DIGIFED: has launched a “call for solutions” under the banner #unitedagainstcovid19, in order to evaluate (in collaboration with Euroscan & other health partners) and distribute all viable solutions more efficiently.
- EVERCLEANHAND: has seen enormous growth in demand for its contactless hand sanitizing machines. The plant-based solution used by the machine, applied in 7 seconds, provides protection for several hours.
- FOTIA DMT: will be launching the production of a machine that uses Ozone (O3) to kill Covid-19 in closed spaces. Specialized in industrial air decontamination and industrial drying cabinets, Fotia DMT’s new product, Fotiozone, promises to decontaminate a room within 30 minutes, killing any traces of covid-19 (along with other contaminants). The company says that Fotiozone has proven to be 100 times more effective than cleaning with bleach products.
- HELLOMOOV, AKEOPLUS + PHARMAPLAN: invented a disinfecting robot (RED) that uses LiDAR to detect contaminated zones and then disinfects the area (up to 100m² per min.) without human help.
- KAIRNTECH: uses AI to help companies produce and exploit datasets more efficiently. It enters any type of raw data (text, audio, etc.) into datasets. The app optimizes diagnostics and supports decision-making in order to improve patient outcomes.
- KEYMAGING: has made its secure shared platform “KeyDiag Covid-19” free for radiologists, allowing them to evaluate the severity of Covid cases more quickly. It also provides key information to epidemiologists trying to better understand the widespread effects of the virus.
- LAVEO: produces an environmentally-friendly aerosol solution for cleaning car interiors within 10-15 min without needing water. With virus-killing properties, the solution can also be used for sterilizing offices and other professional environments.
- LPTENT: provided their event tents (normally rentals) for free to medical establishments and transient field medical sites.
- LUZ’IN: an innovation center that has provided 120 face shields to medical and other workers. It also helped to design a prototype of a low-cost Pulse Oximeter device (with E2M Electricité) & is working with Grenoble’s University Hospital to develop doorknob protectors that limit viral transmission.
- MARE NOSTRUM: temp agency, has created a new training course, available as an e-learning course, for construction workers in the time of Covid-19. 3,000 temp workers will be trained before the end of June. It plans to extend this training to other industries in the coming weeks.
- MDB TEXINOV: specialist in technical textiles and warp-knitting, has used a part of its production line to make single-use mask production.
- PHARMANITY: provides a secure platform for sending scanned prescriptions to pharmacies for quick pick-up, limiting wait lines and potential virus transmission in pharmacies.
- PHM: produces hydro alcoholic hand sanitizer.
- PORCHER INDUSTRIES: expert in textiles, produces 1 million face masks per week. The masks are made of an innovative combination of materials that are waterproof, washable & reusable up to 10 times. They are being used for non-medical essential workers like police, cashiers and others…
- ROCHE: developed an in vitro diagnostic test that detects antibodies & determines patient immunity.
- SAFEWAY: A group of engineering students from Grenoble’s Polytech have designed a Bluetooth-based machine that uses noise to warns people about social distancing. It is an alternative to the app StopCovid.
- SEQENS: supplies isopropanol & purified water to two companies that, collectively, produce 75,000 liters of hand sanitizer each day.
- SERGE FERRARI GROUP: has invented a revolutionary new material that kills viruses. Specialized in composite surfaces, the company has integrated silver particles into this new material’s membrane, making it capable of killing Covid-19 (among other viruses). Testing shows that within 15 minutes of contact, the material destroys the virus at a rate of 95%. This rises to 99.5% within an hour. The company hopes that their materials will prove useful in public spaces, like trams, daycare centers, hospitals and shopping centers, to limit virus propagation. Experts predict that this new material will be a game-changer in the global fight against the pandemic.
- SERRIPUB: produces anti-projection face shields and protective plastic barriers.
- SMART-BIOSCIENCE: expert in engineering peptide solutions with quick turnover, it has partnered with the American company, Ligandal, to prepare a peptide-based vaccine against Covid-19.
- TECHNOSENSE: created a videoconference platform called “E-Lio” that allows the elderly in retirement homes to communicate with friends & family. The county-level government has already begun using the platform in local retirement homes.
- TRIXELL: ramped up production of medical imaging/radiology devices with an increase of 30-40% (250/week before Covid, 400/week by June). Its site currently runs 24h/24h, 7/7 days.
- UNE PETITE MOUSSE: has mutualized its logistics chain with other actors thereby reducing costs and making e-commerce more affordable for local shops and trade workers.
- VEERTUS: individualized virtual shopping experience that allows stores and customers to avoid having to use fitting rooms during Covid-19. Customers can try on clothes through an app and receive wardrobe suggestions according to their morphology & personal style. Veertus has made the app free for all participating brands through 2020.
- WIZBII: created a platform that helps students who do not have a computer to study on during the lockdown period. The platforms helps locate second-hand computers and puts them in relation with students in need. To participate: https://lnkd.in/gNXtytW
- ARaymond donated 1200 FFP2 masks
- Cimatel reorganized its workshop to provide articles for health workers according to their needs
- Gulplug produced plastic fasteners for face shields
- La Casemate manufactured face shields with its 3D printer
- Mercure Hotels made 300 rooms available for CHU workers
- The association, La Ressource, donated somewhere between 800 – 1000 FFP2 masks
- Vefour & Ahlstrom donated masks
- FONDATION UGA and its donors: financed a joint bioclinical research project (Grenoble University & Grenoble University Hospital) to better understand the immune system’s response to Covid-19 with the goal of better managing acute cases before they become severe.
- MAKAIR: artificial respirator produced using an open source design (and without the desire to protect intellectual property). The collaboration began in Nantes with the group “Makers for Life”, and has been supported by several actors in Grenoble: the CEA, Clinatec, STMircoelectronics, HP france, Tronico, Legrand & Diabeloop.
- OCOV: A mask made in Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes and developed by an interdisciplinary and inter-organizational team (including the CEA, Michelin and others), which covers the nose, mouth and chin with a flexible face piece. It includes an elastic head band and a filter that is replaceable and washable.
- SLEEPINOV: A local team of researchers from various labs collaborated to create an individual isolation bubble designed for the transportation of Covid patients. Air around the patient is filtered before being pumped out of the bubble’s chamber, while oxygen treatments continue to be dispensed to the patient. The device guarantees heightened safety for medical workers while they administer care during transportation. The device is being tested for use in helicopters and ambulances.
- SAFEWAY: A group of engineering students have designed a Bluetooth-based machine that uses noise to warns people about social distancing. It is an alternative to the app StopCovid.
- SHIELDS GRENOBLE COVID19: Over 11,000 face shields have been distributed for free through this network that works with the national network Visière Solidaires.