As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts societies and impacts everyday lives, businesses are finding new and creative ways to adapt to the current situation. In the light of this ‘new normal’, many of EQT’s portfolio companies have quickly pivoted their operations in response to the outbreak in order to fill necessary product shortages and help those in need.
Around the world, we are currently experiencing a never-before-seen shortage of hand sanitizers and disinfectant products. To address this acute deficit, Desotec is working around the clock to support Project Hope - an initiative aiming to purify bio-ethanol so that it can be used to produce hand sanitizer for hospitals on a large scale. The pilot project alone can produce 150,000-300,000 liters for German hospitals but the goal is to scale this even further on a Europe-wide level. After the Canadian government requested Galderma to support them in fighting its hand sanitizer shortage, the company introduced the ”Cetaphil Hand Sanitizer” within only a few weeks from conceptualisation to product launch.
Other medical supplies are also in high demand, but EQT portfolio companies have found innovative solutions to help meet growing needs. For example, Ottobock has expanded its product range to include masks and equipment for contact minimization, including door handles, door openers and plastic visors, which the company has donated to care homes across Germany. Moreover, Lima has become a hub for receiving, modifying and shipping swimming masks that have been modified into CPAP masks using Lima's 3D-printed valves. 3D Hubs has launched the ”COVID-19 Manufacturing Fund”, which supports initiatives for 3D-printed products that are urgently needed by hospitals, with over 6,500 face masks currently in production.
Other portfolio companies have focused on alleviating the tough working conditions for healthcare professionals. Siilo has launched a free COVID-19 crisis management tool that enables doctors to access a closed member directory, coordinate groups and broadcast messages to ensure that hospital staff and relatives stay informed and connected. It is now the largest medical network in Europe, with over 200,000 active members. While scientists are racing to find a vaccine, Certara recently co-launched the COVID-19 Pharmacology Resource Center to help accelerate Coronavirus therapeutics. Dott has offered for medical staff to use the company’s electric scooters free of charge to commute to their workplace. When the situation was at its most severe in China, China F&B was one of the few restaurant chains that delivered food to hospital staff, and also offered discounts to medical workers.
The battle against the Coronavirus is not only fought at hospitals and medical facilities – social distancing and working remotely from home have become the norm for many to delay an even broader spread. Transitioning to this new work environment can be challenging, but many EQT portfolio companies have found ways to help facilitate the sudden shift. GlobalConnect & IP-Only have increased the broadband speed to households all across the Nordics at no extra charge and Melita and DeltaFiber NL are currently offering additional internet volume to mission-critical institutions and supporting digital primary education for children in families that cannot financially provide internet themselves. Sitecore is running the critical global Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map and moved the site to its VIP support program and waived fees on increased traffic to support the efforts.
To maintain good mental and physical wellbeing, Docly is providing high-quality digital healthcare solutions to patients at home, while Natural Cycle’s new functionalities help track users’ symptoms if they feel sick and are experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms. Natural Cycles’ scientists are also studying the anonymized data to better understand the spread and the effects of the virus in different parts of the world. Furthermore, Peakon has launched a COVID-19 support hub and is providing free access to its services to help companies check-in on and support their employees during these times.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something and the examples above are just a sample of all the initiatives that are currently taking place among EQT’s portfolio companies. They also illustrate how much positive impact that can be achieved in times of crisis with creativity and innovative thinking.