Answering the call in the Coronavirus crisis
When a crisis hits, we all have to do what we can to help. At least, this has been the mentality of many of the UK’s businesses, who have stepped in to support the NHS, local communities, customers and employees in response to coronavirus.
At Disruption North, we are committed to championing the work of innovative digital and technology organisations in the north of England. Never has this been more important – with many businesses now pivoting their operations towards essential Covid-19 action.
Doing what we can
Much has been made in the past couple of years of the need to shift towards purposeful business, considering social and environmental values along with pure profit. ‘Purpose’ might be the new buzzword, but its ideals are being applied to business in meaningful ways.
Will Flint, CEO of Energym, based at Innovation Birmingham Campus, was inspired to found the company after witnessing the effects of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef. His concept? Harnessing electrical power from gym equipment, as a source of green energy currently going to waste.
This desire to make a difference has been carried across into Energym’s efforts helping out with Covid-19.
“It’s important for every business with the capacity to help in some way, to do what we can, and for society and businesses to pull together,” Flint says. “We’ve teamed up with the 3D printing community to offer out our printing facilities, redeploying our in-house printers to work round the clock, making face shields which are being sent out to NHS staff. As a single business we cannot produce nearly enough, but when we are united we can help make a difference. Together with the wider 3D print community, we are producing thousands of pieces of PPE for the NHS.”
A community effort
Collaboration between companies – once perhaps seen as something to be avoided – can clearly make a big difference in a time of crisis, but it is also an emerging trend amongst forward-thinking businesses. Cross-industry convergence, and even working together with competitors, can give companies the edge when it comes to providing cutting edge products and services.
This is particularly appreciated by John Ridden, co-founder and CEO of Blueberry Therapeutics – a biotech company developing nanomedicines for dermatological diseases.
“We feel blessed to be part of such a vibrant Research & Development culture in the North West with a growing ecosystem of aligned government, research and private funding,” he says. “We are constantly collaborating with the region’s companies and universities. This includes Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Bradford Universities as well as a range of Clinical Research Organisations (CROs) – in fact we work with 6 CROs on our Alderley Park site who support our clinical development efforts.”
This has also carried across to the company’s work combatting coronavirus.
“We’ve joined in the national Covid-19 efforts by donating PPE from our own labs,” Ridden says. “We have also enlisted the help of the broader Blueberry family, using their 3D printing skills to help provide face visor frames to the Christie Hospital. In addition, a number of the team are volunteering with the Lighthouse Lab project, using their skills and expertise to carry out Covid-19 sample testing at Alderley Park.”
Time for change
As we’ve observed over the past few weeks, the current circumstances constitute a make or break moment for businesses. As with any crisis, some will come out the other side stronger, whilst others won’t survive. It all comes down to how they can adapt.
Given the green focus behind his company, Flint understandably sees coronavirus as a perfect opportunity to take positive environmental action.
“Although the implications of this crisis are terrible, it has also allowed us to see the impact we have on the environment,” he says. “Now is the perfect time to reflect on our climate impact, and build in permanent sustainable solutions, whether it be not driving to work and working remotely, installing solar panels, or low carbon micro-generation systems such as Energym.”
“This time has forced many businesses to question their typical working methods and streamline operations. This type of adaptive thinking is exactly what needs to be applied to reduce our reliance upon non-renewable sources of power and address the issue before it is too late.”
The same can be said for all kinds of business activity, and we will likely see many companies reinvent themselves to provide radically improved offerings during these extraordinary times.
Could your business feature here? If you’re an innovative digital business in the north of England, we want to hear from you.