Brightlands is naturally also contributing to this, from ensuring the smooth development of a rapid corona test, playing a role in finding solutions to the scarcity of surgical masks to smart ways of providing remote education and maintaining daily contact with family. Finally, it is also holding an online hackathon centering on the question of how we can exit the lockdown as intelligently and responsibly as possible.
Support measures for entrepreneurs
The government is doing its best to help entrepreneurs through this period with a variety of support measures. There is a special scheme for startups and scale-ups, companies that are in abundance at the Brightlands campuses.
Interested in finding out more about the support schemes?
Check out more inspiring stories of entrepreneurs and researchers from the Brightlands community who have devised solutions to cope with the impact of the coronavirus.
When it comes to fighting the coronavirus, PathoFinder, based at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, has developed a test that can determine whether or not someone is infected with the coronavirus within two hours. The bio-tech company is able to produce 10,000 tests per week. Patients suspected of being infected are tested using a cotton nasal swab, combined with a test in a hospital laboratory. Using the results from this test, the doctor can determine whether the patient has an active infection and should be treated or isolated to prevent further spread of the virus.
The shortage of surgical masks for health care workers has attracted a lot of attention.
Thanks to Sunny Jiang of the Brightlands China Center and her connections in China, a shipment of 12,000 surgical masks was sent from China to the Netherlands, which the staff at Maastricht UMC+ and Zuyderland hospitals were grateful to receive.
Chemelot Innovation and Learning Labs (CHILL) at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen was able to play a role in the production of surgical masks. When Zuyderland hospital saw how snorkeling masks could, with a minor adjustment, double as surgical masks, this led to the design of two prototypes by Zuyd University of Applied Sciences within 24 hours. Thanks to CHILL’s knowledge and assistance, a few companies ensured that 300 masks were made available within three days.
It was announced fairly recently that DSM Niaga, in cooperation with AFPRO and bed manufacturer Auping, are producing millions of surgical masks for Dutch health care institutions. The goal is to supply one million FFP2 masks every week to the government, which in turn will be responsible for allocating and distributing these to hospitals and care institutions.
In cooperation with the AMIBM institute at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus, the “Limburg Surgical Masks Team” will have the chance to become one of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ preferred suppliers, securing its position as a producer of high-quality surgical masks for the Dutch health care sector for the coming years. The unique expertise of the Aachen Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM) in the Netherlands is well-aligned with the initiative of the two Limburg entrepreneurs who have recently become active in this market.
The innovations and activities are not always purely corona-related. Sometimes, an innovation cooked up in the Brightlands kitchen is also used to tackle corona. At the beginning of the crisis in China, razor-sharp images of the coronavirus quickly spread throughout the scientific world. Over the past two months several publications from all over the world followed in the hopes of using this knowledge to develop a better vaccine. These images were made possible in part thanks to the so-called Vitrobot, developed in Maastricht. Prof. Peter Peters and his team at M4I, together with CryoSol-World, the company that developed the prototype further to make it suitable for use as an industrial product, will soon be launching a successor, the Vitrojet at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus. The proteins that the Vitrojet rapidly freezes steer the body’s complete biochemical machinery. This innovation will also make it much easier to study diseases such as COVID-19, cancer, Alzheimer’s, tuberculosis and AIDS.
Based at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus, the FAST Automotive Group has developed a face shield to be used in the fight against the coronavirus. This face protection shield is designed to offer a safer way for health care personnel, dentists and owners of driving schools to do their jobs. In cooperation with two other companies, FAST Automotive Group hopes to be able to produce 7,500 to 10,000 units per week.
The increase in digital collaboration and more routine in online traffic leads to a corresponding increase in the incidence of cybercrime. Cybercriminals are very quick to take advantage of this new situation. Working online means more email traffic, more frequent log-ins in work systems; in short, more digital traffic translates to more opportunities for cybercriminals. The Cyber Resilience Expertise Center (ECCW) at the Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen has put together a few extra, free webinars to provide entrepreneurs, particularly in the SME sector, with the most important information and tips in the fight against cybercrime.