A crisis can bring out the best in humanity.
While the world battles with COVID-19, as everyone focuses on keeping themselves and their families safe and healthy, communities are coming together like never before.
In Waterloo Region, we pride ourselves on an outsized ability to solve problems. It’s in our DNA.
This focus on solving problems is evident in the actions of our civic leaders, who are coming together – along with Waterloo EDC’s leadership – to ensure some degree of economic stability and continuity in our community. It’s also present in the working group of tech leaders who have begun coordinating with each other and the local health authorities to supply much-needed resources.
Individual businesses and organizations are also doing what they can on the local, national and international stages. They’re applying their expertise and transforming their products/services to help local health authorities with shortages, assist companies around the world with telecommuting and simply keep people informed.
This is a community of problems solvers. Here’s our (growing) list of local companies and organizations that are helping businesses and communities cope with COVID-19:
Education innovators who created a well-known learning management system for classrooms, campuses and corporations, D2L offers the tools to make the transition of remote learning simple. In response to COVID-19, the company has put together a free course capturing scientific, social and economic perspectives on the pandemic, and have developed a new “care package” program for helping schools, institutions and companies rapidly adopt a new learning platform.
A people and culture consulting company on a mission to improve well-being, happiness and performance, Plasticity Labs also created the HERO Generation, a positive-education framework that provides educators with tools to create positive school culture where students can flourish. Knowing that learning is now happening in the home rather than classroom, the company has made their resources and activities available for free.
An artificial intelligence startup that has already grabbed headlines for its work with Audi, DarwinAI is seeking alternate methods to test patients for COVID-19. Working with researchers from the University of Waterloo, the DarwinAI team is developing a neural network that can detect COVID-19 from x-rays to augment swab tests, which are in short supply. Their work isn’t yet complete, but they’ve made the model available on GitHub for others looking to help develop it.
Only 5% of public sector procurement is done remotely, which means the push to work from home is putting unprecedented pressure on public procurement teams. Bonfire is providing free access to their Strategic Sourcing platform – which digitizes the entire procurement workflow – in order to help the transition to remote procurement take place as seamlessly as possible.
A software company that offers a modern learning solution for frontline employees, Axonify has created free content to help organizations like Longo’s, Loblaw and M&M Food Markets rapidly train their workforces on preventative habits during a pandemic. They’re also asking people to shine a spotlight on great frontline employees by nominating them as a “frontline hero.” Each week, Axonify will chose five of the names at random to receive a $50 gift card as a small token of appreciation.
Innocente Brewing Company
A microbrewery with roots in Edinburgh, Innocente Brewing Company has joined the chorus of brewers and distillers shifting some of their production capacity to hand sanitizer. Known for libations with clever names like the “Pils-Sinner” and “The Way It Gose,” the sanitizer is no different, bearing the moniker “Inno-sani.”
A leader in video marketing and sales, Vidyard’s world-class expertise has led to partnerships with marketing platform giants like HubSpot. Just as much of North America was shifting to work-from-home, the company announced that it would provide free access to their new secure video messaging solution, Vidyard for Internal Communications, to help teams stay connected and productive.
Provider of digital versions of flyers from many of Canada’s top brands, reebee is always free for consumers. With the uncertainty in retail – from changing store hours to closures and sanitation procedures – reebee is now leveraging its app to help consumers stay up-to-date with a new page dedicated to keeping Canadians informed about changes in access to essential items.
On a normal day, InkSmith focuses on helping educators around the world build hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to engage students in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). This week, they’ve turned their incredible ingenuity toward addressing a shortage in personal protective equipment, producing face shields for health care workers using 3D printers and laser cutters.
With offices closing and businesses shifting to work-from-home, the potential for technical issues for telecommuting workers has never been greater. RouteThis is providing Internet Service Providers with the tools to diagnose wifi-related issues, such as slow connection speeds and device disconnections, without having to dispatch a service technician. The company is making its RouteThis LiveView tool free for ISPs to use during this ongoing crisis.
In addition to playing its usual lead role in coordinating the Waterloo Region tech community, Communitech has also made their Peer2Peer program – which offers peer support networks in a vast array of fields – available via virtual sessions. Find the full list of virtual P2Ps here.
The Accelerator Centre is one of the world’s top business accelerators and their graduates include some of the fastest-growing scale-ups in Canada. While we’re all stuck indoors, the Accelerator Centre is offering free virtual workshops on navigating the COVID-19 pandemic to startups across Canada.
Murphy’s Law Distillery
Distilleries around the world are shifting their production from tasty libations to helpful hand sanitizers and this Waterloo Region distillery is no exception. Usually the purveyors of moonshine – yes, moonshine – Murphy’s Law Distillery is making hand sanitizer for essential workers like cashiers, truckers and those working in care homes.
The innovators behind an all-in-one customer support dashboard for remote and on-site teams, Summatti is helping companies make the work-for-home transition easier by providing one month of free access to their insights package for those using Zendesk and Salesforce.
A Waterloo-grown tech giant, BlackBerry is now one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms. To support continued global business activities, BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen announced that the company is offering many of its security products free for 60 days, including support for secure collaboration, remote working, messaging and phone calls.
A Canadian tech superstar with a significant presence in Waterloo, Shopify is supporting online retailers through a suite of new policies and programs, including making digital gift cards a standard feature on all plans, extending their free trial window from 14 days to 90 days and hosting a series of webinars to help business owners weather this pandemic.
Should your business be on this list? Email your story to eamon.oflynn[at]waterlooedc.ca to get added! There’s no such thing as too much good news.
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