The latest news and insight on how the technology sector is reacting to Covid-19
Leaders in UK tech call on government to protect country’s 30,000 startups
The Save our Startups (SOS) campaign, backed by influential leaders in the UK’s tech sector, calls for the government to follow France and Germany in announcing support for startups to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.
Signatories of the campaign expressed their concern that the government’s loans for small businesses would not cover startups, many of which are loss-making. The campaign calls for an equity-based liquidity package as an injection of fresh capital for startup and high growth businesses.
It also asks that the government fast tracks payments to startups from public funding schemes, particularly R&D tax credits and funding grants from Innovate UK. “Private sector liquidity has taken a major hit during the crisis … it is within the government’s power to provide these companies with immediate liquidity by expediating the release of these funds,” the campaigners said.
Finally, SOS appeals for the government to change the Enterprise Investment Scheme, Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, and Venture Capital Trusts to stimulate private equity investment into startup and high growth businesses, arguing that investors will need a much stronger incentive than currently exists in order to recover from the crisis.
Boeing extends production shutdown until further notice in supply chain concern
Boeing has decided to extend the production shutdown at its Washington state plants for an indefinite period in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and concerns about the reliability of its supply chain.
Aircraft manufacturers are suffering from travel bans in most countries, which have prompted airlines across the world to ground their planes and defer orders of new jets.
Boeing has sought $60bn in aid from the US government, for the company itself and for its vast supply chain. Boeing has already promised that any liquidity will be used “for payments to suppliers to maintain the health of the supply chain”.
UAE joins list of countries using apps to track individuals
The UAE is one of the latest countries to develop tracking software to keep tabs on individuals in self-quarantine. The gulf state had earlier announced jail terms and fines between Dh10,000 and Dh50,000 for those who violate quarantine restrictions.
The department of health in Abu Dhabi has now launched a smartphone app, ‘Stay Home’, to track the movement of those who are self-quarantining. The app sends alerts that instruct users to stay within the range of movement allowed during the quarantine period. Individuals will also be asked occasionally to check in – meaning that they must send a photo through the app to confirm their location.
US-based startup uses live cameras to track social response to public health lockdowns
Voxel-51, a startup based in the US, has developed a metric to track the effect of the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns on social behaviour across the world.
The Voxel-51 Physical Distancing Index (PDI) tracks how human activity has changed, informed by both computer vision models and live video streams from cities in the US and in Europe, including London, New York, and Prague.
The data is gathered from specific locations of interest, some of which are – in normal times – among the busiest in the world. Footage and data are streamed to Voxel-51’s site in real time, and converted to a live graph based on the company’s PDI metric.