Prior to the onset of Covid-19, we were already seeing huge disruption in the payments space. The power dynamics were changing as businesses and consumers shifted from cash and cheques to digital payment methods.

Cards were still king for retail but mobile solutions and wallets like Apple Pay saw huge levels of adoption. Digital person to person (P2P) apps began to take a serious foothold as they continued to demonstrate improved user experience and seamless integration with existing infrastructures.

That change is now trickling into other sectors long dominated by cash and cheques, such as remittances and business payments. Big tech is taking a larger slice of this market.

It appears now that the adoption of better and more robust payments platforms will only rise, bringing with it new opportunities for businesses that can provide solutions for potential new types of fraud threatening data security and privacy.

This is both a challenge and an opportunity for the big banks. It also creates an opportunity for best in class new entrants in the payments space.

West Coast Big Tech is here, and it wants to eat your lunch

The rise of P2P payment platforms such as Venmo is only the beginning. We are seeing Silicon Valley and the wider San Francisco region increasingly encroach into the financial services space, with Stripe alone recently raising $600 million, valuing the company at $36 billion.

The company has seen a growth in demand during Covid. Existing clients of the platform include Instacart, Doordash, Postmates, and Caviar. It recently added Zoom.

John Collison and his CEO brother Patrick have stated that in the period since March 1st, Stripe generated $1 billion in revenue.

The swift and tactical approach from Valley-based tech firms has seen traditionally slow-to -respond banks lose ground in the race for your wallet.

It’s not just payments. Peer to peer lending, alternative investing, alternative risk assessment, among other areas traditionally provided by banks, are now growing rapidly in Silicon Valley, with significant players such as Affirm, Brex, Plaid, and Dataminr emerging. The disruptors are here, and they are not going away.

Using Data to minimize risk and free up employees

The financial services industry is currently coping with the task of processing a mountain of applications for government-led small business loan programs. Banks are also trying to ascertain who is entitled to temporary amnesty on mortgage payments as arrears grow, and are setting aside reserves to cover loan defaults coming around the corner.

Financial institutions of all sorts are looking at alternative solutions to manage functions such as loan processing, risk assessment, and portfolio management.

Increasingly, they are looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and data intelligence to best ascertain what parts of their lending portfolio is most at risk in the virus-driven recession. They are also looking at ways in which to better utilize their data to develop compliance solutions and best practices.

That means increasing opportunities for companies with AI-driven solutions in the financial services sector.

The challenges of managing remote workers

For those industries where work from home is possible, managing a workforce remotely is a big challenge. So too is the managing the return to office process, which will be done on a staged and strategic basis.

Banks and other businesses will need to live with a remote workforce component for the foreseeable future. Better and more robust platforms for managing staffing and other remote considerations are increasingly required. With offices closed all around the world, companies are scrambling to manage such considerations as global payroll, global and local tax compliance.

For banks, the processing of loan applications has been particularly troublesome. Appetite from these banks for tech solutions is ever-growing.

Opportunity is out there

Innovative Irish Fintech companies are strategically well positioned in the post Covid era. Ireland’s history of a large and dynamic financial services sector has helped build an expert workforce.

That fact, combined with the growth of big tech on Irish shores, has created something quite unique.

In US fintech we now see two thought leaders: the traditional banks on the East Coast and the big tech giants out of Silicon Valley. Great Irish companies combine both those mindsets and have deep domain knowledge of each.

Phonovation, the market leaders in secure, Application to Person (A2P) messaging has developed anti SIM swap attack software which prevents hackers gaining access to bank accounts.

Aylien uses a unique combination of data and AI to help banks and others manage risk and optimize access to news monitoring. It leverages artificial intelligence to empower forward-thinking enterprises to collect, analyze, and understand vast amounts of human-generated content. It is increasingly seeing banks using its product to as an alternative resource to assess portfolio risk.

Taxamo helps companies around the world to meet their global tax requirements. It recently signed a collaboration with Deloitte to provide a tax compliance service enabling online marketplaces to be tax compliant.

Altada uses its AI solution to help businesses grow and reduce employee time spent working on data. It has seen great success in its target sectors of Government, Financial Services, Professional Services, and Human Capital. In financial services, its application is being used to reduce the legal and operational costs in processing the purchase of loan books.

Payslip’s digital technology solution transforms global payroll operations creating a streamlined, low risk, cost-effective process for the business. It has demonstrated its effectiveness in the crisis recently, helping a San Francisco based technology company onboard two new payroll countries in just five weeks using Payslip.

Accelerated Payments offers a unique invoice finance solution to SMEs. Using its platform, businesses can access cash tied up in their invoices in just 24 hours. During Covid, many new customers turned to it to ease cash flow concerns at a difficult time.

TerminusDB has given back the power of data to the businesses that gather it but doesn’t readily know how to use it effectively. The result is unified, well-structured, and refined data – the jet fuel of future business. TerminusDB greatly reduces the time and effort required to build any application that shares, manipulates, or edits data. Banks and financial institutions are increasingly turning to TerminusDB to better execute their business.

As we move into the post-Covid era, fintech innovation will be more valuable than ever.

In today’s pandemic environment, healthcare organizations are facing unprecedented challenges that make staff and resource scheduling even more complex such as increased patient numbers with higher dependency levels and decreased staff availability due to illness or self-isolation requirements.

For over 30 years, workforce management solutions firm Softworks has been helping organizations of all types automate and streamline the complex administrative elements of employee management. Enterprise Ireland-backed company Softworks software is used by a large number of Healthcare organizations in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and most recently, the company has started projects with a number of Canadian Hospitals and is in discussions with U.S. organizations for further expansion.

“We’ve been checking in with our customers to see if we can help in any way and we’ve had some very insightful feedback about how our software is supporting them,” says Andrew Ferguson, CEO Softworks. “For example, our Employee Scheduling module is demonstrating its value for Healthcare Providers right now.”

The company’s  Employee Scheduling software brings together information on employee hours, attendance, schedules, annual leave, skills, sickness, planned absences, and employee preferences. Based on this information the scheduling manager can run the Softworks Scheduling wizard to create a roster for the entire organization at the touch of a button, identify any gaps that may arise, and offer these shifts out to employees via email or text.

“Having the right people with the right skill set in the right place at the right time is a critical element in the delivery of patient care for healthcare organizations — especially now,” explained Ferguson. “Employee scheduling is an important tool in achieving this but can be time-consuming and complex as employees skills, their availability, the fairness of the schedule, and adherence to labor laws all need to be considered.”

Ferguson explained that the creation of automated skilled-based schedules that match patient dependency levels means a big reduction in the amount of time spent on scheduling and a reduction in operating costs through the optimal use of existing staff instead of using overtime or agency staff. Employee engagement is improved by giving employees more control and input over their schedules through the Softworks Employee Self-Service application on a desktop or mobile device.

“One of our healthcare customers shared a really positive story about this with me,” added Ferguson. “Due to COVID-19, they had a number of ICU staff put into self-isolation which meant they were faced with a shortage of correctly skilled staff in ICU. The HR team was asked to identify anyone in the organization who had these particular skills acquired within the last 10 years but who had relocated departments. The Scheduling Manager told us it only took a couple of minutes to be able to pull in a single report from the Skills and Training module of the Softworks system to give them immediate visibility of who they could approach to relocate into ICU in the immediate short term so they could continue to deal with patients presenting with COVID-19 and general ICU management.”

Like many organizations, a large number of hospital administration staff are working from home during the lockdown and while they previously recorded their working hours and attendance by clocking in and out at the office, they’re now logging their Time and Attendance through the Softworks Employee Self-Service App on their mobile or laptop.

Ferguson shared an example from an HR manager responsible for payroll in a large hospital. The manager is working from home and because the Softworks solution is cloud-based, she has the same functionality available at home as she had when working at the hospital. The manager is able to export the full, monthly record of employee time and attendance to her payroll system with no interruption — so the hospital employees are paid accurately and on time. She is proud that she is continuing to provide the same level of payroll accuracy despite the change in location and that she is supporting her frontline colleagues in a very tangible way.

“We’ve always been able to demonstrate the many benefits of our software, but in the face of a global crisis like this, you can’t help but question how you and your company is contributing to the greater good,” said Ferguson. “Hearing this positive feedback from our Healthcare customers has made us so proud that our solutions are helping them during this challenging time. We are so appreciative of the incredible work they do and we’ll continue to support them as they fight COVID-19.”

As countries around the world seek ways to live alongside Covid-19, social distancing becomes more important than ever. For organizations and businesses, achieving it while minimizing damage to productivity is vital.

A raft of highly effective solutions has emerged from Ireland to help. For innovation watchers, that’s no surprise. A recent international survey placed Ireland 6th in a global ranking of countries responding best in terms of innovation to the pandemic, just behind innovators such as the US, Canada, and Israel.

Enterprise Ireland client companies have been leading the way.

That includes companies such as UtilityAR, which specializes in augmented reality (AR) solutions for Industry 4.0, working with clients in sectors such as manufacturing, pharmaceutical, utilities, and data centers.

Right now it is enabling workers separated by Covid-19 – either because of social distancing or because one may be in quarantine – to continue to work together.

As UtilityAR CEO and founder, Patrick Liddy explains: “Over the past couple of months the buzzword has been business continuity. We are now moving to return to work and the issue is how that can be done safely.”

“We produce systems for technical workers to help them get the job done in cases where, traditionally, they would have worked side by side, whether for oversight, guidance, troubleshooting or simply to have a second pair of eyes.”

Its high tech AR eyeglasses allow the wearer to share what he or she is seeing with a colleague on another part of the site, allowing socially distanced collaboration.

With fewer workers expected to work alongside one another as a result of Covid protocols, including staggered start times and shift changes, it allows workers to receive guidance or ensure they are following correct procedures and allows co-workers or advisors to assess their progress remotely.

Irish construction services technology company GoContractor quickly identified challenges for the construction industry in relation to induction and training.

Much of this traditionally takes place in person, either in a work trailer or classroom environment, and involves the sharing and copying of documents. Clocking on too, whether paper-based, touch screen or turnstile, risks spreading germs.

Prior to Covid-19 GoContractor’s contractor management platform automated and moved a construction site’s orientations and registrations online, saving safety and project management personnel thousands of hours of teaching and registration time over the life of a project.

Since Covid it has been enabling the construction industry to get back to work by providing a socially distanced ‘no-touch’ method for site orientations, registrations, and access control.

Instead of a worker having to physically provide documents to site safety personnel or a site manager, GoContractor allows workers to upload their credentials directly to the GoContractor platform, from anywhere. Instead of having to show up a work trailer to do paperwork, a worker can complete everything online the night before so they can stay socially distanced and safe during the registration process.

 It solves the problem of training too by allowing workers and subcontractors to login to GoContractor to undertake all their training and orientations online prior to coming on a worksite, removing the need to break social distancing protocol to be properly onboarded onto a site.

For clocking on and off, GoContractor allows site security or other check-in personnel to scan a QR code to pull up their information, making sure they are properly trained and registered to be on-site, and then checking them into the worksite.

GoContractor also allows for hard hat stickers with QR codes, meaning workers can simply have their hard hat scanned on the way in and out of a site to be checked in and out at a distance.

The company has clients in the USA, Canada, UK, and across Europe, including some international construction companies such as Lendlease, AECOM, and Skanska.

Irish software firm Solgari has an integrated communications solutions for the fintech sector to offer voice, video, chat, SMS, and co-browsing options that are both fully integrated with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and support regulatory compliance, from GDPR to MiFID II, to customers around the world.

Since Covid-19 the company has been helping distance-working by ensuring that all company communications are recorded, and the data extracted efficiently, regardless of geography or medium. This means companies whose staff are working remotely can keep up to date records of all client interactions.

Internet of things specialist Taoglas has launched CROWD Insights, an IoT solution that supports social distancing. Its cloud-based analytics platform uses existing WiFi infrastructure to measure, monitor, predict, alert, and notify social distancing breaches in public gatherings in both indoor and outdoor venues.

The solution can also provide a CROWD Insights Wearable Tag, similar in size to an identity badge worn with a lanyard, that delivers automatic contact tracing capability. This is proving vital to business and factory owners as they deploy solutions to ensure business continuity in the event of further outbreaks.

“We believe this will be vital in the days and months to come, to allow people to move around safely without fear and to get the economy moving again and help business to stay open,” says Ronan Quinlan, co-chief executive and founder of Taoglas.

The solution is quick and easy to install, using existing Wifi systems and collecting anonymized data via smartphones. It offers same-day deployment – remotely – via a cloud management platform, whether to healthcare facilities, venues, retail stores, restaurants, airports, cities, or towns.

Where social distancing breaches occur, software company NearForm’s mobile tracing app rapidly notifies those who have been in contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.

The new real-time symptom tracking and digital contact tracing app help curtail the spread of the virus and eliminate the growth of clusters.

Lastly, because social distancing doesn’t reduce the risks posed by the shared use of touch screen devices, Irish coatings specialist Kastus pioneered a solution.

Such devices see high public usage at airport terminals and fast-food restaurants. Kastus’s patented technology uses ambient moisture and light as a fuel source to generate oxygen radicals, a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen, which attach to bacteria and viruses and works to kill them.

Its antimicrobial surface coating is already used by makers of floor tiles for residential, commercial, and healthcare settings.

For Kastus founder and CEO John Browne, news that independent testing had proven its efficacy against the novel coronavirus was no surprise. “Our coating is designed to kill superbugs such as e.coli and MRSA but we had a strong degree of confidence that it would work against coronavirus too, and it does,” he says.

Kastus ensures our germs to remain socially distanced.

The fully pre-integrated 5G NR NSA Evaluation System will enable customers and partners to test and evaluate 5G Networks. 

Benetel, developers of leading-edge hardware platform solutions for the telecommunications industry,  announced the launch of its first 5G NR Non-Standalone (NSA) Evaluation System. The 5G NSA system, based on Split 7.2 ORAN interface, is targeted for laboratory, research, and test integration purposes. This innovative system enables interested parties to evaluate, understand, and familiarize themselves with virtualized end-to-end solutions and provides them with a path to deployment grade solution.

This fully pre-integrated system package contains every piece of equipment necessary to be operational right out of the box. The package includes Open Air Interface (OAI) Stack and NSA Core preconfigured on Dell servers, Benetel Radio Units (RUs) (both 4G Band 7 LTE RU and 5G Band N78), as well as all connectors, Test SIMs, and cabling required to run the system. Additionally, Benetel is providing a suite of Software Test Applications with the Evaluation Platform to facilitate functional and performance testing.

“This Evaluation system can accelerate 5G programs and provide researchers with access to a standalone 5G network across the world,” says Adrian O`Connor, CEO, Benetel. “The system is equipped with everything you would need to operate it, including Benetel`s ORAN compliant Radio Units for LTE and 5G integrated with Open Air Interface stack. Together we look forward to making 5G a reality for our customers.”

Benetel is an Irish-based company supported by Enterprise Ireland. Enterprise Ireland is proud to support Benetel as they continue to develop leading-edge innovative technology solutions in the telecommunications industry.

“Benetel is yet another example of the leading telecoms technology coming out of Ireland today,” says Dylan Terry, Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland. “Their new 5G NSA Evaluation System is a critical technology needed to accelerate 5G capabilities into the market.”

Benetel is working with leading players and open initiatives, such as Open Air Interface, to provide Radio Units over fronthaul networks that interwork with virtualized baseband units. This open disaggregated Radio Access Network (RAN) is the cornerstone of next-generation mobile network infrastructure.

Faced with the current pandemic, hospitals and healthcare providers are doing everything possible to maximize their staff and resources and provide for patients as efficiently and effectively as possible. Oneview’s technology at the patient bedside has proven invaluable for deploying telehealth solutions in response to the COVID-19 crisis to help minimize contact and keep patients connected to their family and friends at a time when physical visitation is heavily curtailed.

The Oneview system enables healthcare organizations to make use of technology to drive cost efficiencies, improve clinical outcomes, and enhance patient satisfaction, leading to overall excellence in healthcare economics and quality of care. 

With a global headquarters in Dublin, Ireland; a North American headquarters in Chicago, Illinois; and offices in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and Dubai, UAE, Oneview is uniquely positioned to deliver the care experiences patients and seniors need. By focusing on the whole person and supporting the entire care team, innovative technology from Oneview unifies systems, data, organizations, and – most importantly – people to improve patient outcomes, quality, and value.

“We are working hard to support hospitals with their telehealth efforts as they care for COVID-19 patients,” said James Fitter, Oneview’s CEO. “Technology in the patient room is uniquely placed to remotely connect patients with their care team, reducing risk for patients and clinicians by minimizing contact and preserving personal protective equipment to help prevent the spread of germs in the hospital, as well as enabling loved ones to visit virtually.”

In response to the crisis, Oneview has launched a cloud-based managed tablet solution, Oneview Cloud for COVID-19, that enables virtual rounds; virtual visitations (allows patients to call friends and family); and a virtual interpretation service. The tablet also provides patients with up-to-date information on COVID-19, as well as education and entertainment content. Other Android applications can be added as required.

This solution is designed for rapid deployment and can be quickly provisioned without any new infrastructure (assuming there is Wi-Fi in place), without on-premise servers, and without Oneview staff needing to come on-site. The company’s technology partners for this solution are Samsung and Microsoft.

“Healthcare organizations are having to rapidly adapt now to ensure they can deploy critical resources where they are needed the most. It’s really important work, and the COVID-19 tablet solution will make a real difference where it’s needed most right now,” says Oneview CEO James Fitter. “The feedback we have been getting from both clinicians and patients at the NYU hospital has been very, very positive. I’m proud of how our team has responded to this crisis, working hard to support our clients and launch the Cloud for COVID-19 solution.”

Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, HiTech Health enables pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies to bring new medical products to market. HiTech Health is focused on helping companies move as efficiently as possible while maintaining the highest quality standards and instilling complete confidence in the commercial supply chain. HiTech Health supports a range of companies in developing, launching, and supplying their products in the EU and U.S.

We recently spoke with Brian Harrison, founder of HiTech Health Limited, about how the company is adjusting to the new norm, and how HiTech is working to assure supply chain integrity in the face of a pandemic.

How have you seen the supply chain industry change during this crisis?

There are significant challenges for companies in managing their supply chain at this time. In the pre-COVID world, companies could place orders and expect materials to arrive when due, but now everything is different. During this crisis, we are helping companies manage their supply chain on a daily basis by assisting them in keeping in communication with suppliers and shipping companies, assessing the impact of shipping lane changes (e.g. total flight disruption of >80% in Europe in May 2020), managing paperwork including importation documentation — all of these activities have to be done within a very highly-regulated environment, requiring significant know-how and expertise.

How can companies deal with supply chain disruption during this time?

Start by thoroughly understanding your supply chain. We recommend a detailed risk/business continuity assessment to ensure that all risks are understood. With that knowledge base, companies can then develop mitigation plans to ensure product supply. Operational experience in supply chain management is key to understand these issues fully.

What does the future look like for the industry?

I think the future is bright for the industry. There is a huge focus at present to solve the COVID-19 crisis with developments in diagnostics, anti-viral medicines, and vaccines. This brings an emphasis but also an opportunity for the industry to demonstrate leadership in solving this crisis.

Going forward, I expect that companies will focus on business continuity. In this environment, key considerations will include the location of the manufacturing, total costs, dual-sourcing options, and looking at internal manufacturing versus the use of contract manufacturing.

While there are impacts to ‘business as usual’ because of COVID-19, most biopharmaceutical companies have adapted effectively to working remotely, and this way of working will likely be embedded as an effective way for companies to work in the future.

What does product development look like right now?

Simply put, these are challenging times for new product development. The major regulatory agencies such as the FDA and EMA have prioritized COVID-19 product development activities. In cases where clinical trials have been fully enrolled, there is likely minimal impact on the product development plans and timelines as many activities can be carried out remotely. However, products that are not COVID-19 related and that are in development and need access to patients for clinical trials are severely impacted.

What advice do you have for companies to get through this time?

It’s now more critical than ever for companies to focus on their people, partners, and customers. Leadership and teamwork are always essential for business success, but now these solid relationships are essential. Since many people must work remotely, it is crucial to find ways to celebrate success, build team spirit, and continue to build and strengthen all relationships.

How has HiTech Health been directly involved with helping in relation to the COVID 19 pandemic?

An example of this was with a HiTech Health client who received approval for its hospital surgical product by the FDA in Q1 2020 just as uncertainty and disruption hit global supply chains. Working in partnership with its client and using its network, HiTech Health provided the following support and key activities:

  • Quality oversight of manufacturing of the new product at multiple CMO’s in different countries
  • Certified all batches of product for further processing to commercial supply through our Qualified Person (QP).
  • Managed shipments of the bulk drug substance to the drug product manufacturer and on to the US for secondary packaging
  • Designed, implemented and executed shipping validation protocols to verify the robustness of the selected transportation methods and routes
  • Ensured all importation documentation was successfully completed by our Responsible Person (RP).

Another example of solid partnership and networking is when COVID-19 first began to have an impact in Ireland, as elsewhere in the world, there was a significant shortage of hand sanitizer available in the country. We knew that many distilleries were trying to navigate often confusing national legislation and regulatory requirements to understand if they could help by manufacturing and supplying sanitizers.

Keen to play our part, we reached out to a local distillery to offer our expertise to help as switching to make alcohol for sanitizers instead of whiskey, which required critical changes in the manufacturing process. The distillery gained approval for the manufacture of sanitizer and is now supplying to charities and medical staff and facilities working on the ‘front line’ of the COVID outbreak.

HiTech Health has also participated in Irish government agency feedback aiding supports to be put in place that will help other companies to be maintained and function while also ensuring products can be supplied to patients.

HiTech Health client list includes Horizon Therapeutics, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, IPSEN, and Takeda, to name a few. For more information about HiTech Health, please visit www.hitech-health.com

Druid Software, in collaboration with RF Connect and CommScope, has deployed a CBRS enabled OnGo Private 4G wireless network at Memorial Health Systems in Springfield, Illinois. The network provides secure, reliable connectivity to temporary triage and testing tents where doctors and nurses deliver emergency care during the COVID-19 outbreak. The CBRS enabled OnGo Private 4G wireless network can be set up quickly and accessed for dedicated data for healthcare staff who are working from tents or other facilities on the hospital grounds.

Druid Software has helped to rapidly deploy the OnGo network by contributing the 4G cellular core technology and services that manage the Commscope Access Points, and cellular core software.

The Druid “Raemis” cellular platform is a 3GPP compliant 4G/5G core network, with unique features designed specifically for Critical Communications. Raemis is a mature technology in use today by Enterprise for mission-critical environments in North America, Asia, and Europe.

The proven Raemis LTE communication technology allows organizations to create their own private networks and leverage LTE, including improved performance, reliability, and security. This technology enables healthcare workers at Memorial Health Systems to connect CBRS-certified devices to a private LTE network. Using private network slicing features the IT administrators can group users like doctors and nursing staff and prioritize critical data traffic on the OnGo network. Raemis also easily integrates with the latest nurse call technology ensuring crash teams and all critical nurse call messages are delivered to intended groups mobile devices.

“Communication is essential to the provision of critical care and to testing and treatment,” noted Liam Kenny, CEO, Druid Software. “This partnership with Memorial Health Services enables those on the front lines to communicate effectively, reliably, and securely without entering the building where the risk of contamination is significantly greater. It is our honor to help provide this important network to the healthcare staff at Memorial Health Systems. We are pleased to partner with RF Connect and CommScope to do what we can to help out in this challenging environment.”

Enterprise Ireland is thrilled to work with Druid Software as they step-up with an innovative technology solution to help medical professionals on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“It is excellent to see Druid playing such an important role in this collaboration,” said Sara Hill, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Ireland. “Our healthcare workers need support now more than ever, and this network is a crucial solution that’s going to help them in providing the best care possible to patients.”

Druid Software is an Irish-based company recognized as a market leader for its mature 4G & 5G LTE Private Cellular technology. Druids Raemis platform enables US healthcare technology providers to ensure that doctors and nurses stay connected no matter where they are across the hospital campus. Druid’s software platform ensures medical professionals have the critical technologies they need to do their jobs and keep patients safe.

Dublin, Ireland-based start-up company SureWash, has developed an augmented reality app to measurably and cost-effectively improve hand hygiene for hospitals, healthcare providers, and others. Within the app, artificial intelligence is used to communicate the right technique, as well as check progress and motivate thorough hand washing.

Count to twenty! Many people know, at least in theory, how long a thorough hand washing takes. If you wash your hands correctly, i.e. with soap and water for a sufficiently long time, you protect yourself and others from a range of infections. According to the Health Knowledge Foundation, four out of five contagious diseases are transmitted to the mucous membranes via contaminated hands, including colds, flu, gastrointestinal infections, and the currently dangerous coronavirus.

Thorough Hand Washing is Critical

According to the Federal Center for Health Education, anyone who washes their hands for at least 20 seconds can reduce the bacterial load by as much as one-thousandth of the potential risk. The procedure is simple, but in practice, however, it often falls short of being fully effective. A majority of people do not wash their hands for long enough, thus not providing a thorough cleaning.

In medical professions, washing hands is about more than just etiquette: around 250,000 patients die worldwide every year from infections contracted in hospitals. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that half of these deaths can be attributed to poor hand hygiene. Properly washed hands save lives. This is especially true for people who work in the healthcare sector. People who work in the pharmaceutical or food industry also have contact with many people and should know and practice the WHO guidelines for hand washing, especially during this pandemic.

Saving lives in six steps 

As part of their professional training, most people within the healthcare sector automatically develop habits for cleaning their hands before and after any patient contact. But according to the WHO, many practitioners overestimate their competence and misjudge their own technique. The organization recommends washing hands in six steps, which are also suitable for hand hygiene with disinfectants:

  1. Moisten the palms of the hands, soap them and rub them together.
  2. Wash the back of each hand with the other hand.
  3. Wash the palms of the hands with interlaced fingers to reach the spaces between them.
  4. Rub the backs of the fingers with the other hand.
  5. Wash thumbs thoroughly.
  6. Clean each fingertip thoroughly.

To ensure that all steps are thoroughly followed every time, the sequence of events must be stored in our muscle memory. This part of the brain learns comparatively slowly and must be fed with many repetitions. According to a study by the Yale Medical School, about 30 repetitions within one week are necessary to memorize the method of washing hands in this way. Usually, trainers and instructors teach these steps, but the individual must practice the repetition precisely. An effective training program ensures in several stages, and with individual feedback, that learners practice and improve the process until they unconsciously implement a complete and thorough handwashing every time.

Practice, measure, get better

Even experienced persons must be motivated to check their handwashing techniques. This is where Irish MedTech company SureWash comes in.

SureWash combines artificial intelligence and augmented reality into a user-friendly gamification application. The app places the user’s hands over a video of the correct procedure. A camera with gesture recognition measures and evaluates hand movements in real-time. There are 5 levels of training in the app and as the user progresses, prompts are reduced and the time to complete the poses gets shorter. The user receives direct feedback as to whether the washing (‘their hand motions’ might work better) moves within the specifications or makes a mistake. With each pass, the user can improve, compare with others, or achieve a personal high score!

Easily accessible, visible in real-time

The augmented reality app can be used flexibly in medicine, but also in public institutions. As a portable kiosk and recently also mobile on the smartphone, it is available around the clock, if required. In this way, users learn and consolidate the vital technology in a playful and efficient way, without having to leave the workplace for training or having to overcome other hurdles. Institutions can adapt the application to their needs and evaluate the training success in reports.

SureWash’s technology is specifically designed to improve everyday hand hygiene as well as in health crises times. The SureWash technique is based on WHO guidelines and has been scientifically confirmed and validated. The app has made SureWash available to the general public in order to contain Covid-19 through properly executed hand hygiene.

 

Hanley Energy, an Irish based globally recognized innovator in critical power management solutions for data centers, is expanding its North American business in the market through successful deployments with hyperscale data center clients that couple innovation, resilience, and consultant-grade service. According to Clive Gilmore, CEO, Hanley Energy, the company has been able to leverage business relationships and a proven record of performance and accountability in the EMEA market to grow its business and support clients in North America.

“At Hanley Energy, we take pride in creating long-lasting partnerships with our clients through excellent delivery services and cost-effective technology solutions,” Gilmore noted. “Essentially, we advise clients on their energy strategy, ensure their data centers are enabled for 100% up-time and deliver pioneering solutions that optimize their operational competitiveness and resilience.”

But it is not just technical know-how that accounts for Hanley Energy’s success. “While innovation is our unique selling proposition, a key driver of our growth is relationships,” Gilmore adds. “This ethos is reflected in the two commercial tag lines that we live by – ‘Energy for a Digital Age’ and ‘Trusted Energy Partner’. It’s through being a trusted partner that you can really add value for clients. It’s about building relationships and working with clients on a partnership model over the long term.”

Hanley Energy works with hyperscale data center clients to service their operations across the globe and now along the United States west coast. The goal of the organization is to continually improve the service offering they deliver as well as their sustainability efforts, including renewable energy initiatives and improved power utilization. In Oregon, with a stable of world-class engineers at their new regional office in Boardman, Hanley Energy is supporting the burgeoning data center industry in The Dalles with a suite of critical power and innovative technologies that advance sustainability in the area.

Hanley’s expansion is supported by Enterprise Ireland, Ireland’s trade and innovation agency, who partners with Irish enterprise companies to help them start, grow, and win export sales in global markets. Enterprise Ireland is proud to support Hanley Energy as they continue to expand further into the North American market with their award-winning innovative technology solutions.

“Hanley Energy exemplifies innovation, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and resilience,” says Jack Callaghan, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Ireland. “We are very excited about the company’s expansion into the Pacific Northwest and know that they will continue to excel and expand here in the U.S.”

Hanley Energy’s core capabilities cover the design, supply, installation, and support of turnkey power management solutions – from the power grid to the data center IT rack. Its advisory capability guides hyperscale clients through the challenges of technology transformation and allowing the realization of operational efficiencies underpinned by lifecycle management, service, and maintenance. With the new Oregon location, Hanley Energy can provide these essential services even more efficiently to their local partners in the area.

Enterprise Ireland client companies have helped put Ireland into the top echelon of countries whose innovative solutions are helping to reduce the impact of Covid-19.

A global survey ranks Ireland among the top countries in the world for producing innovative solutions to the current crisis.  Ireland has come sixth in a global ranking of those responding best in terms of innovation to the pandemic.

Inventive solutions coming out of Ireland span everything from med tech devices to diagnostics solutions and contact tracing software and place the country just behind innovators such as the US, Canada, and Israel.

The survey is compiled by StartupBlink, a Swiss-Israeli producer of global startup ecosystem maps, in association with the UN-backed Health Innovation Index (HIEx) and partners such as Crunchbase, a US business information platform.

Ireland’s top-ranking position reflects the fact that within weeks of the World Health Organisation declaring the pandemic, on 11th March, more than 100 Enterprise Ireland client companies had responded with innovative solutions.

As a result, Ireland is one of just a few in the Top 20 country ranking which is singled out by the report’s authors for “over-performing in Covid-related innovation”.

The rankings consider the number of innovations in each country, giving extra points for those which it selects as ‘outstanding’ in the fight against the virus.

The scale and scope of Ireland’s innovation response to the pandemic is immense. It includes examples such as nutraceuticals firm Mervue Labs in Cork partnering with iconic drinks maker Irish Distillers to create hand sanitizers.

Similar initiatives are to be seen among human and animal health companies such as UnivetChanelle and Ovelle.

Irish mask maker Irema, a contract manufacturer to US conglomerate 3M and other medical device suppliers, has expanded its workforce and built a new production line to ramp up production of reusable respirator-grade masks.

Ireland’s engineering sector stepped up to the plate quickly too. Long-established companies such as Automatic Plastics and Key Plastics, whose clients range from pharmaceutical and food packaging to telecoms and aerospace, pivoted to manufacture face shields for use by health service workers.

High potential startups are responding fast too, with CALT Dynamics, a 3-D printing company backed by Stanley Black & Decker, making protective visors.

Software companies have risen to the challenge with alacrity.  Clinical practice management solutions company Wellola launched a secure patient communication portal for general practitioners in Ireland’s national health service, the HSE. By providing treatment remotely, it is helping to keep queues and wait times down, while at the same time protecting both doctor and patient from the spread of Covid-19.

Scheduling software company Swiftqueue is optimizing appointments at Covid-19 urgent test centers.

Irish medical devices innovators are coming to the rescue too. PMD Solutions, creator of pioneering patient monitoring devices, is trialing a new respiratory monitoring solution in one of Dublin’s biggest hospitals.

Jinga Life allows people to securely record, store, and share their own medical information. By providing for the digital transfer of things such as CT scans, MRIs, and x-rays, it reduces the risk of infection from handling current technologies such as CDs.

Digital healthcare company PatientMpower provides tech solutions for people living with long term illnesses. Its remote monitoring enables clinicians to provide continued high-quality care to vulnerable patients without the need for hospital visits during the Covid-19 crisis.

One of the world’s leading digital mental health providers, SilverCloud Health, is opening up part of its platform free of charge to help millions of people cope with the impact of Covid-19.

The Irish company has offices in Boston, Dublin and London and clients such as Ireland’s HSE and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and Canadian retail pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart. It is providing programs on stress, sleep, and resilience for free to its clients’ 150 million customers.

Tracking and tracing is an effective weapon in the fight against Covid-19 and Waterford based software development company NearForm is working with Ireland’s HSE to develop a mobile tracing app for the disease.

The potentially life-saving app will facilitate the rapid notification of people who have been in contact with someone who is subsequently been found to have tested positive for the virus.

Irish artificial intelligence startup Oblivious AI has developed a Covid19 contact tracing solution that provides accurate information at speed while at the same time protecting people’s privacy. It is being piloted in India.

Internet of Things specialist Taoglas is helping public and private sector organizations to manage crowd sizes in order to maintain social distancing in both indoor and outdoor spaces.

Augmented reality handwashing app SureWash, which is already used by healthcare workers globally to ensure proper hand hygiene, has been made available by the company to the general public, to stem the spread of the virus in the community.

Dublin based HiberGene Diagnostics, a developer of molecular diagnostics tests for human infectious diseases is developing a new and rapid test for the novel coronavirus, based on non-invasive human samples such as swabs.

Because it is a “near-patient test”, samples will be taken and tested on location, without needing to be sent offsite to a laboratory. It could produce a positive COVID 19 result many times faster than the fastest existing molecular diagnostic tests.

Fellow Irish biotech company Aalto Bio Reagents has launched a new protein with the power to fight the Covid-19 on three fronts – diagnosis, vaccines, and research.

Irish med tech company Aerogen has pioneered new ways to help people in respiratory distress using aerosol drug delivery technology.

Unlike conventional nebulizers, Aerogen has an in-line circuit design, which means the ventilation circuit does not need to be broken for drug delivery. Its management team believes it could, therefore, be a viable option to help deliver industry-leading care to patients infected with Covid-19.

Finally, innovative plasma technology developed by Irish company Novaerus is helping to close the infection control loop of hands, surfaces, and now air. It uses a patented technology that kills airborne viruses by sucking air from a room and passing it through patented plasma coils which destroy them, reducing the risk of cross-infection.

Irish companies are continuing to respond to the pandemic challenge with resourcefulness and creativity, says Tom Kelly, Enterprise Ireland’s divisional manager for innovation and competitiveness. “We are seeing companies innovating, adapting, and creating new solutions.”

Cork-based AI company Altada Technology Solutions is now applying artificial intelligence in the healthcare and financial services sectors in both Ireland and the U.S. — particularly in New Jersey and New York — to help in the battle against by COVID-19, in these greatly-affected areas.

Altada provides scalable AI solutions to companies with large, unstructured data sets. By exploiting a company’s data fabric, the company has successfully driven companies’ automation, data-driven decision making, enabled scale, and overall increased their profitability through AI.

“We are proud to help the frontline workers by offering our expertise in operational AI to increase data efficiency,” said Allan Beechinor, CEO and Founder of Altada. “We aim to help our clients through this stressful, unprecedented time. We are currently scaling up and have started to expand our team that is set up to work remotely. Therefore, we are strategically placed to help various organizations during this pandemic.”

Altada Technology Solutions is working with healthcare providers in New York and New Jersey during the Covid 19 pandemic, as well as helping various financial services companies in the U.S. to navigate the crisis. Through the use of operational AI, Altada can deploy data intelligence techniques and personalized AI models to provide solutions for healthcare, financial service, and a wide range of other companies and organizations.

“Resource planning it is now of utmost importance as we attempt to calculate when the number of new positive cases will plateau,” said Beechinor. “Our models will be used to calculate this and help with post plateau and admissions, therefore, calculating a more accurate number of ventilators needed and calculate when an ICU bed becomes available.”

The company’s data analytics is employing the following recommended models to provide solutions during the outbreak, including the SEIR model that follows the flow of people between four states who are: Susceptible, Exposed, Infected, and Resistant with the COVID virus. Each of those variables represents the number of people in those groups. The SEIR model is an epidemiological model that computes the theoretical number of people infected with a contagious illness in a closed population over time.

Additionally, Altada is working with subject matter expert Simon J. Samaha, MD, Co-Founder at Kentan Staffing Solutions. Simon has extensive experience in this field, which will ultimately aid Altada in their continued efforts.

Helping the community

Altada understands that this is a stressful and unusual time for everyone. In addition to helping firms navigate the crisis with their technology, they have found a way to also help their community. Locally, in Cork, Ireland, Altada has decided to start funding groceries needed by those in isolation. This initiative began with Beechinor’s son and school friends who created an app to assist those in nursing homes who are finding themselves receiving no visitors during this time. This initiative further demonstrates Irish innovation when it is needed most.

For more on this local, creative use of technology, please visit the website at www.careutd.com

“Enterprise Ireland is very proud to support this innovative Irish company as they develop solutions to help the global population during this time,” said Amy Robinson, Trade Development Executive, Enterprise Ireland. “We are fully behind Altada and other Irish companies and global organizations as we all look for ways to assist in the effort.”

For more information and updates, please see www.altada.com, @AltadaSolutions on Twitter, and @AltadaTechnologySolutions on Linkedin.

By Dylan Terry, Development Executive Enterprise Ireland 

It feels as though we have been talking about 5G deployment in the U.S. for an eternity. Is 2020 the year that 5G finally takes off? In this article, I will discuss the changing dynamics in the U.S. telco ecosystem that indicate 5G technology may finally becoming mainstream.

Anticipated launch of 5G enabled Apple iPhone

Perhaps the most significant event in 2020 for 5G commercialization is the predicted launch of Apple’s 5G-enabled iPhone in October. This will be Apple’s first foray into 5G-enabled devices and with a 42% share of the U.S. mobile device market, their predicted launch should have big implications on consumer expectations around 5G availability and coverage. As more 5G enabled IoT, Gaming, VR/AR, and cloud computing applications are launched, this consumer expectation will continue to grow, hence putting pressure on the MNOs to deploy 5G networks.

It would seem that Apple is also betting big on the 5G opportunity. In July of last year, they acquired Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion with over 2,000 Intel employees joining Apple, along with Intel IP, equipment, and leases. This acquisition allows Apple to produce its own 5G modems for its smartphones, delivering benefits such as working on their own timelines, better integration, and the ability to develop new features.

Changing dynamics in the U.S. telecoms ecosystem

The U.S. telecom landscape has been unchanged for 10+ years with the four main operators (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint) maintaining a more than 95% market share. However, this market will see significant changes in 2020 that have the potential to bring genuine competitiveness to the industry with implications on 5G network deployment.

2020 started with a good omen for the future of 5G as the T-Mobile/Sprint merger was approved by the FCC. This merger has the potential to significantly impact the dynamics of the U.S. 5G market. Combining Sprint’s far-reach, fast and underused mid-band 5G wireless spectrum with T-Mobile’s wide-reaching, low frequency, low capacity network should allow them to provide a 5G offering with both increased speed and coverage. The new company is expected to have 5G speeds four to six times what they could have achieved on their own and plans to invest up to $40 billion building out its 5G network and business in the first three years.

In order to promote competition in the market, one of the stipulations of the above merger by the FCC was that a fourth player enters the wireless market. Dish Network, a satellite TV provider, were well positioned to be this player as they have been acquiring spectrum for a number of years. With additional Sprint spectrum allocated to them through the merger agreement, unsurprisingly Dish agreed to enter the market to become the fourth major nationwide operator.

Quite bullishly, Dish has committed to deploying a 5G network that serves 70% of the U.S. population by 2023. Charlie Ergen, Dish Network chairman indicates that building a 5G network from the ground-up may be a competitive advantage, stating, “The way to compete is to build a better network, not to build the same network using old technology”. This commitment to building a better, more modern network could result in Dish being a significant player in the U.S. 5G market.

The big U.S. telecoms players, Verizon and AT&T, are also stepping up their 5G offerings in 2020. Verizon has committed to doubling the number of cities with 5G coverage to 60 and recently announced a partnership with Amazon to bring cloud computing closer to their 5G network edge. AT&T plans to offer 15 5G-enabled phones in 2020 and to provide 5G coverage to 200 million people by mid-year. With the changing dynamics mentioned above, bringing increased competitiveness, are the big players realizing its time to step up?

Private enterprise networks

According to a survey by Gartner, two-thirds of enterprises plan to utilize 5G by 2020 with IoT and video applications as the key drivers. Enterprises can, of course, utilize 5G using standard public networks, however, the concept of private 5G enterprise networks is starting to build momentum. Private networks offer organizations key advantages such as increased security, reduced latency as data is stored locally, flexibility in configuration (coverage, spectrum slicing, etc.), and onsite installation/maintenance.

The U.S. private network movement took a big step forward in January as the FCC approved full commercial deployment of the OnGo service in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band, spectrum reallocated from military applications. OnGo delivers a flexible model for the sharing of spectrum and is likely to be the method of choice for enterprise private network deployments in the U.S.

According to a report from Deloitte, “By 2024, the value of cellular mobile equipment and services for use in private networks will likely add up to tens of billions of dollars annually”. This presents another opportunity in the U.S. 5G market as OnGo now supports configurations for 5G deployment. With Google, Nokia, AT&T, and Cisco all members of the CBRS Alliance, enterprise private networks have the potential to be a significant player in the U.S. 5G ecosystem.

The market potential

All told, 5G technologies are expected to contribute $2.2 trillion to the global economy over the next 15 years. One of the early drivers of this contribution is the heavy investment required to deploy 5G networks. Up until now, many of the 5G technologies were deployed by upgrading the existing 4G networks, known as non-standalone networks. This will work until the networks can no longer support the ever-increasing traffic, thus forcing the MNOs to build new additional sites (standalone networks) and increase the number of antennas. In a report by McKinsey & Company, they predict that in the U.S. the MNOs will reach this need for additional sites/antennas by 2020. Combine this with the launch of the 5G-enabled phone, changing dynamics in the telecoms landscape, and commercial deployment of private networks – 2020 could be a significant year for the 5G evolution in the U.S.

Globally focused Irish companies with strong 5G capabilities

Innovative Irish companies are strategically positioned to benefit from this increased deployment of 5G networks in the U.S. This is principally due to the commitment to R&D by Irish telecoms companies, putting them at the forefront of 5G technology.

Ireland has a reputation as being the heart of ICT in Europe, employing 37,000 people across both a strong indigenous and multinational scene. Ireland also has a strong history of innovation in the telecom’s arena – Aldiscon, an Irish company, developed the world’s first SMS texting application in the early 1990s. Today, leading Irish companies continue to innovate on the global stage. To that point, listed below is a snapshot of the Irish telecoms companies at the leading edge of the 5G evolution.

Alpha Wireless, who provided antenna solutions for the Super Bowl, are a market-leading specialist in designing and manufacturing high performing antenna solutions. Last year, in a UK-first, Alpha Wireless provided antennas for a 5G-enabled mobile network at the Millbrook Proving Ground that enabled self-driving vehicle testing. As the advent of 5G technologies takes hold, Alpha Wireless’ goal is to enable the rollout of next-generation telecommunications networks.

Benetel provides a unique combination of disruptive and differentiated radio platforms, services, and RF expertise. Benetel’s modular platform approach, such as its ORAN based 5G Radio Unit, provides scalable solutions for communication providers. In 2018 big industry players such as AT&T, China Mobile & Orange Mobile formed the ORAN alliance, showing a movement towards open interface solutions that Benetel provides.

Cubic Telecom is a global connectivity management software supplier that offers solutions powering connectivity for leading Internet of things (IoT), automotive and mobile device companies across the globe. Cubic works with leading companies such as Audi, Panasonic, Volkswagen and Woolworths, providing them with connectivity (5G supported) in over 180 countries.

Druid Software, a member of the CBRS alliance, provides cellular core applications for 5G, CBRS, IoT, Public Safety, Neutral Host, Patrol & Enterprise Communications. Druid supply core network technology and components to Global System Integrators and Network Equipment Providers and their Raemis ePC solution was recently deployed (using OnGo technology) at the 3 million square foot American Dream Entertainment & Retail Complex in New Jersey.

Openet, who last year entered into a partnership with Samsung Electronics to deliver 5G core network solutions, provides Business Support Systems (BSS) to some of the world’s leading service providers (AT&T, BT, Orange) enabling them to create new revenues from digital services, improve customer engagement and enjoy faster time to market. Openet has invested heavily to ensure its Digital BSS is 5G ready.

Software Radio Systems delivers open, auditable software for mobile wireless systems, providing custom product solutions, applications and modular, portable libraries for a range of wireless technologies including LTE and 5G NR. Previous projects of note include work with the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, and SmartSky, an air-to-ground connectivity provider for commercial aircraft.

Taoglas, a world-leading provider of RF antennas next-generation IoT solutions, has deployed innovative IoT projects across automotive, utilities, smart cities, healthcare, telematics, and more. Taoglas have an industry-leading portfolio of 5G antennas for both sub 6GHz and mmWave frequencies and were the first to market with antennas that support the 600MHz spectrum being used by T-Mobile to launch their nationwide 5G.

To learn more about how Irish telecoms innovators can help you, contact Dylan.terry@enterprise-ireland.com.