How Are These 3 Startups Tackling Coronavirus?

It’s a hard, scary time — and the one moment in which the lemonade rule doesn’t really apply (life gives you lemons, etc.). But if you’re fortunate enough to still have your job and privileged enough to be able to work from home, work has to go on.

So why not work on a project that helps combat coronavirus? We spoke to three hubraum resident startups doing exactly that.

We interviewed Ubirch’s CEO Stephan Noller, Zana’s cofounder and CEO Julia Hoxha and Apheris’s Business Manager Sabrina Steinert about their ideas and how coronavirus is affecting the way they and other startups work.

Apheris, working from home

How have startups in general been affected by the crisis? How was your startup affected?

Stephan (Ubirch): We quickly moved to working from home. This is working well. But it affected us substantially in terms of meeting clients. Trade fairs and conferences we had planned to attend were cancelled. Projects have been delayed and production of our blockchain SIM cards has been delayed, too.

Julia (Zana): Currently we see startups rising to the occasion to adopt new technology and building solutions for this new world. Zana operates in digital health and telemedicine where demand has increased. We see a shift in behavior that has caused people to adopt tech that’s here to stay.

Sabrina (apheris AI): At apheris AI, we followed the scientific advice given by the Robert Koch Institute early by working 100% from home. Fortunately, the epidemic did not affect our ongoing projects, so we decided to support the tech community currently battling Covid-19 and offer our expertise.

What technical solution have you developed to tackle coronavirus or the circumstances surrounding the virus?

Stephan (Ubirch): Ubirch is part of a German consortium, which has developed an IT infrastructure for a “smart exit” out of lockdown. The solution is called Corona Health Certificate. #enchaincovid

Julia (Zana): We used our conversational AI platform to build FORTA for continuous reporting of COVID-19 symptoms at scale. We offer it for free to public health organizations to track digital biomarkers for use in clinical, epidemiological and healthcare research on COVID-19 trajectories.

Sabrina (apheris AI): We published a white paper together with the website,, in which we’re offering our support in developing a COVID-19 app. Together with OpenMined we’re co-developing code for technology for safeguarding privacy which could then be harnessed by such an app.

If your solution can also be used after the crisis, what are examples of use cases which it could be used for?

Stephan (Ubirch): Our solution is suited for generating trustworthy data in a complex environment. This will be used for multiple applications in the industry, health care sector and for public infrastructure in the future. 

Julia (Zana): FORTA is one part of Zana’s health monitoring platform which helps high-risk patients and carers to manage treatment at home. Our voice assistant connected to medical devices allows patients to self-monitor biometrics (SpO2, heart rate, ECG) and better adhere to a treatment plan.

Sabrina (apheris AI): Our privacy preserving technology is applicable to all apps in which tracking, alerting and high-precision self-isolation is achieved via location tracking, e.g. in clinical trials in which patients with specific diseases should avoid certain areas.

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