How honest can we expect workers to be about symptoms of COVID-19 as they return to work they need for economic security and healthcare? Are employers or the government assuring worker job security when workers fall ill so that they can afford to miss work? These are some of the questions we’ve been mulling as Michigan Governor Whitmer announced her 6-phase plan for safely reopening the Michigan economy. States around the U.S. are reopening despite not reaching recommended milestones, and tensions are running high between people concerned about health versus disastrous employment numbers, including 48% of Detroiters losing their job in recent months.
Michigan’s business analysis firm EntryPoint has just released the Washtenaw County COVID-19 Business Impact Report to help business owners and investors examine the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on local business and investment. For startups and tech businesses looking at the business landscape, here’s what you’ll learn:
Research labs have been shut down. Small businesses are searching for funding. But it’s not all bad news in the emerging tech hubs of the Midwest. Especially in hard-hit Michigan, the structure is in place to allow some startups to do quite well during challenging times. We went in to a few interviews of Midwest tech companies and startup coaches thinking they would help us pay forward resources to startup founders to get through these hard times. In addition to resources, they had some good news.
The idea? Put publicly available datasets all in one place so it’s easier for researchers to do text mining and analysis on over 19 million academic articles. The CORD-19 dataset, a full-text and metadata dataset of COVID-19 and coronavirus-related research articles, is included. Amy Kirchhoff is the Text and Data Mining Business Manager at ITHAKA, the company that runs popular academic research site JSTOR. Kirchhoff is also an Archive Service Product Manager at Portico, ITHAKA’s content preservation archive. She leads a team building a new service to allow users to mine datasets related to COVID-19 research along with a host of other related data and published papers. “We are building a text mining service,” Kirchhoff says of the new program, which allows customized searches of aggregated datasets related to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
In 2011, Eric Ries rocked the business world when he published The Lean Startup. His ideas about how to bring discovery of customer behavior to the forefront of everything was a revelation for millions. Since that time, Eric has himself been on a journey of discovery. He has learned that his ideas are valuable to organizations of all sizes and in different ways than even he imagined at first. During the ensuing six years, Eric worked with companies large and small to implement the ideas that he and his team developed. The culmination of that work was delivered in 2017 to the rest of us in the form of a book entitled The Startup Way.
We’ve all gotten them: the endless COVID-19 emails. Maybe you’ve even sent one. Every organization is shifting its policies to handle the coronavirus outbreak. But what happens when your new COVID-19 initiative or your entire company needs to pivot or rebrand in order to cope with changing times? Danielle Milner, founding partner and brand strategist of branding studio Do:Better, helps companies telling the story of how they’re helping and changing during COVID-19, and it’s more than spin. It can be surprisingly difficult, especially during stressful times, to figure out how to tell the story of how your organization is trying to help out, or why your mission has shifted to align with new circumstances. Do:Better helps companies of all sizes. Clients include United Way of Washtenaw County, Automation Alley, Ann Arbor SPARK, and Toyota. The design-focused branding studio out of Ypsilanti, Michigan, works with companies big and small, and according to Milner, “We do have a program specifically for tech startups.
Braden Shugarman is part of the latest cohort of startups supported by the Desai Venture Accelerator in Ann Arbor. He and his grandfather, Florida ophthalmologist Dr. Richard Shugarman, created Shugarman Surgical Innovations to market an improved eyelid speculum called SpecLite for certain ophthalmologic procedures. The original idea came back in September of 2014, when the elder Shugarman was working as a retinal specialist performing 30-50 intravitreal injections per day for people with certain eye disorders. He realized that for people receiving injections to retain and improve their eyesight with conditions such as macular degeneration and ocular edema, the current speculums available for the last 2 decades were functional but hadn’t improved much. To increase patient comfort and decrease complications and infections, Dr. Shugarman began to design a new speculum.
A microfluidic device invented at the University of Michigan and developed by U of M startup Optofluidic Bioassay may offer a cheaper, faster, and much more reliable antibody test than those currently being rushed to market to trace the spread of COVID-19. A microfluidic device is described by the company as a “lab on a chip,” meaning that it shrinks multiple lab testing functions onto a single chip just millimeters or centimeters in size. The technology enables faster results for coronavirus antibody testing with smaller sample sizes.
Ann Arbor-based academic research database company ProQuest has just announced it is aggregating a database of coronavirus and related virus research available through its library customers and to academic research users for free to assist in research and data analysis of the quickly developing COVID-19 outbreak. “The Coronavirus Research Database saves time and improves outcomes for researchers by aggregating authoritative content from ProQuest with content made available at no cost by members of the International Association of STM Publishers…. Journals, preprints, conference proceedings and dissertations provide comprehensive coverage of COVID-19 and other past coronavirus outbreaks, such as MERS and SARS, for context around the current global pandemic. Full-text content in the database is available either directly from ProQuest or via links to publisher sites.”
Ann Arbor’s Voxel51, which offers advanced machine learning tools to analyze video, has just released a tool that looks at the social impact of physical distancing from the COVID-19 epidemic. They’re calling it PDI, or Physical Distancing Index. The data can be used in a number of ways to look at the results of social distancing orders and correlated with virus spread trends.