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Accelerating through crisis

How are Accelerate Cambridge startups adjusting in the current climate?

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Entrepreneurs supported by the Accelerate Cambridge programme at the Cambridge Judge Business School Entrepreneurship Centre are adjusting their activities in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. We spoke to some of them to find out how are they adapting in the current climate. 

Prosoma

The startup was co-founded in 2018 by Andrzej Jończyk, Marek Ostrowski and Ema Kufel. The aim is to help cancer patients who suffer from mental distress by delivering psychotherapy via mobile application. Prosoma is in the final stages of developing the app that will be accessible instantly to every patient and allow people to work on their mental health by themselves.  

In light of the current situation, the team has decided to open some of the most helpful techniques free of charge to help people in the UK and US manage stress and anxiety. The app will provide advice on how to reduce anxiety, how to manage isolation, and exercises such as meditation and breathing therapies. The app is now in beta tests and users will be able to register to beta tests shortly on prosoma.com/covid

“As we see the severe impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on the public’s collective mental health, we feel obligated to respond and focus on anyone struggling with the current situation,” Andrzej says. “This will be particularly important for the most vulnerable people already in risk groups, often older or unwell, or those with existing health conditions. It will also be relevant for our brave frontline staff who ensure that the healthcare system, supply chains and supermarkets are all ready to give us means to survive this crisis.”

The team has also launched a series of free video webinars aiming to help people’s mental health during the pandemic; they are hosted by Dr Mariusz Wirga, Medical Director of Psychosocial Oncology at Memorial Care Todd Cancer Institute in California. Prosoma has now hosted 11 webinars both in English and in Polish. Around 5,000 people have attended so far. People can join a Facebook group to find out about the upcoming webinars and share related materials.

AlgoDynamix

The company, founded in 2013 by Jeremy Sosabowski and Wei Teo, is a risk analytics firm focusing on financially disruptive events. They provide advance warning of major directional market movements by identifying anomalies in market participants’ behaviour. Unlike other solutions, the underlying technology does not require any historical data or knowledge of any previous disruptive events. 

In response to COVID-19, the team launched a series of webinars to actively help clients and consumers to navigate the volatile markets. Previous topics include ”Market volatility and unprecedented new normals” and “Actionable insights and new opportunities in a secular financial landscape”. 

“COVID-19 has unleashed never-before-seen fear and anxiety, one that has infected the global economy. We hope our webinars will help to establish a better overview on the financial market and what to expect moving forward,” said co-founder Jeremy Sosabowski. 

In addition, AlgoDynamix is also involved in webinars in collaboration with Barclays Eagle Labs. The webinars aim to bring together experts to discuss how artificial intelligence and machine learning can support entrepreneurs during these challenging times. The next webinar titled “How Financial Risk Forecasting Can Help Secure a More Stable Future” is taking place on 4 June.

Virtual Nick 

In August 2018 personal trainer Nick Apps founded the Cambridge Exercise Technology venture and developed a smart fitness app called Virtual Nick. The app allows people to create personalised workouts which adapt to a user’s schedule, progress and location. People can exercise in a gym, outdoors or at home. It’s currently available for iOS devices and it’s free to download. 

In response to COVID-19, Virtual Nick is currently focusing on home workouts to help people stay active, healthy and positive. “With the gyms closed and a lot of people at home in lockdown, there has never been a more critical time to take care of your health,” Nick says. “The app allows you to take control of your mental and physical wellbeing by tailoring your workouts around your schedule and build a healthy routine that works for you.”

According to Nick, the app has been downloaded in 45 countries so far, with the primary user base being in the UK and U.S. Even if people do not have any equipment at home, the app will be able to provide exercise workouts, Nick says adding there was a spike in user engagement at the beginning of lockdown. 

Orca Scan

John Doherty launched the Orca Scan venture in 2016 aiming to simplify and lower the cost of barcode solutions. It started as a mobile prototype to help a teenager scan barcodes, and evolved into a barcode-tracking technology available to all, regardless of company size or budget. Orca Scan developed a mobile app for barcode scanning and data collection, and a web app much like Google Sheets to configure devices and receive data centrally – this way making it easy and cost-effective. 

Currently around 20,000 companies worldwide are using Orca services scanning an average of 1.9 million barcodes per month. For example, Lime uses it in 150 cities around the world to track the condition of their scooters and the components required to service them; a hospital in the U.S. uses it to track medical devices such as mechanical hearts implanted into patients. 

Now the company is offering the full version of Orca Scan technology free for six months to all research labs, pharmacies and medical companies responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. John Doherty commented: “Our hope is that companies can use the system to make sure they can get hospital equipment, medical supplies, medical devices and medication to the people in the places they need to, efficiently and without errors.”

So far, 45 organisations have signed up for the free service including hospitals, care homes, medical device manufacturers and companies switching to the production of ventilators across the world.