3D Printing, Robotics and Blockchain: in5 Startups Step Up to Beat Coronavirus Curve

Photo: Dubai Media Office

Startup incubator in5 has lauded its entrepreneurs for leveraging 3D printing, robotics and blockchain to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the UAE community amid ongoing efforts to curb coronavirus.

Talented startups from the enabling platform for technology, media and design have 3D printed personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline medical workers, used robotics to keep children engaged at home and created a contactless biometric identification system.

Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director of Dubai Media City and an in5 lead, said: “We face an exceptional global challenge and the UAE’s status as a launchpad for startups and entrepreneurs to scale up their ventures in a nurturing environment has never been so important.

“Dubai has always been a hub for talent, and we enable highly-skilled individuals with innovative ideas to thrive across our sector-focused ecosystems. Some of the sharpest minds are now creating potentially life-saving products and services to beat the virus, while others are proactively reaching out to relevant authorities to provide knowledge and expertise. Their drive and determination demonstrates the value entrepreneurs bring to the UAE and why supporting local startups matter.”

in5 offers two services to entrepreneurs and startups across its three innovation centres. The first is an incubation programme with a simplified business setup, creative co-working spaces, specialised facilities including 3D printers and prototyping labs, mentorship, networking events and access to venture capitalists. It compliments this by offering a membership programme providing students, designers, professionals and businesses with access to its innovation centres and other benefits at competitive rates. These two programmes have helped Dubai develop an enabling ecosystem to attract talented startups and entrepreneurs who have developed innovations to boost the UAE’s response to COVID-19.

3D Printed PPE

Ruba Al Nashash is contributing to the campaign against coronavirus with her 3D printing company 3Dinova. The in5 Design member was originally established to produce gifts but has shifted its focus to 3D print facemasks for doctors and nurses due to rising demand for PPE. It is also manufacturing 3D printed door handles that people can use with their elbow to limit the possibility of infection via contact with a contaminated surface. Al Nashash is in the process of expanding her output of 3D printed PPE for frontline medical workers, with prototypes currently being produced.

Blockchain-powered patient identification platform

in5 startup Liber Health, a blockchain and biometrics-powered patient identification platform based in Dubai Internet City, has created a contactless IRIS identification technology to recognise patient data. It is safer than other biometric identification systems such as fingerprint scanners, which are more likely to spread pathogens.

Syed Abrar Ahmed, the CEO, believes the platform could save thousands of patent lives lost due to medical errors caused by the lack of auditable health data. It is also compatible and scalable to every electronic medical record (EMR) system and healthcare application in the world. Liber Health is currently in talks with major public and private sector entities who have expressed an interest in the patent pending technology.

VR and AR training of healthcare workers

Dr Sana Farid, founder and CEO of the consulting firm Munfarid, an in5 startup, is taking immersive education to the next level with augmented reality and artificial intelligence. She intends to offer an experiential training platform for teachers to host classes with students who can interact with the platform in myriad ways, an initiative that will support talent and reaffirm Dubai’s status as a knowledge hub.

The platform could help train healthcare workers with immersive technology that allows medical professionals to visualise hospitals and patient wards before they are established.

Robotics Championship

Among the startups stepping up to the challenge is hardware technology firm Junkbot, an in5 startup since 2016. The company encourages children to make robotics from recycled household objects and recently launched the Fight Corona Robotic Championship, encouraging young minds to build imaginative robots with AED5,000 up for grabs in prize money. The contest will support talent development in the UAE.

Entrants receive a DIY hardware kit delivered to their home with 10 online classes explaining how to build robots and gadgets designed to either spread awareness or combat COVID-19. Registration closes on 15 May and the competition ends in June.

Ehtesham Puthur, Chief Executive Officer of Junkbot, said: “Children are just as affected by the current stay-at-home situation as their parents are, and our initiative will help them during this time. The Fight Corona Robotic Championship spreads coronavirus awareness and encourages kids to become the superheroes we need. It will enhance problem-solving skills and the hardware kits and video lessons will provide exposure to science, technology, engineering, art and math.”

In5 was launched by TECOM Group, a member of Dubai Holding, in 2013. It has helped more than 200 startups attract over AED400 million in funding since inception.

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