Companies to follow in EMEA – COVID-19 crisis response edition

23 March 2020 - 06:35 am UTC

Compiled by Jenny Ackerfeldt, Christopher Kenneth, Mathieu Peraste, Eve Poland and Vladimir Rodina, with additional reporting by Patrick Costello, Laura Larghi and Joanna Socha

This is a list of companies to follow throughout the EMEA region and their response to the COVID-19 crisis. It has been compiled from local press reports and original reporting.

 

  • Aida Diagnostics develops blood transfusion tests
  • Arnest and Aliolkhim produce antiseptics
  • Braiconf switches to face-mask production
  • Beiersdorf to produce disinfectant at scale
  • Coramed ramps up production
  • Essity to start manufacturing face masks
  • Getinge planning to increase ventilator production
  • HeiQ launches textile treatment to fight coronavirus
  • Kering to buy and provide masks
  • Memo Therapeutics seeks to identify therapeutic candidate for COVID-19
  • Metropolis Com shifts from banners to face masks
  • Sanity System selling ozone-gas equipment

 

Aida Diagnostics developing blood transfusion testing system


Polish medtech Aida Diagnostics is looking to deploy a test version of its blood management system to free up doctors and medical resources to address COVID-19 cases, CEO Mateusz Pawelczuk told this news service. Aida’s AI and big data-based technology helps physicians predict whether the patient needs a blood transfusion. At the same time the company is in talks with VCs and business angels over a PLN 2m (EUR 505,000) seed round, he said. Talks were held up by the coronavirus outbreak but Aida Diagnostics is hoping to wrap them up by the end of March, he said. The company is offering a stake of up to 15% and is targeting a valuation of PLN 19m, Pawelczuk said. Money from the seed round will go towards clinical studies at the Military Medical Institute in Warsaw, further development and international roll-out. A Series A round is planned for the end of 2021 or early 2022.

 

Arnest and Aliolkhim expand offering to antiseptics


Arnest and Aliolkhim, the Russian industrial chemicals makers, have diversified into antiseptics and other personal-hygiene goods production. Both have adopted a 24-hour-work regime as a part of efforts to meet COVID-19-related demand, according to local TV channel Vesti Stavropol and online news agency Pobeda26. Aliolkhim’s daily output is expected to average 40,000 units or about 700 metric tonnes per month or up by over 30% on the pre-COVID-19 production volume. These products are packaged in containers, ranging in sizes from 0.5 litres to 5 litres, according to Tass and Kavkaz. Arnest, now working round-the-clock, is in the final stages of installing new industrial facilities to launch the production of antiseptics and other antimicrobe solutions for personal/public use before the end of the week, Pobeda26 reported. The other major players in this space are also working round-the-clock to ensure there is no deficit of essential medical/pharma goods in the country, Trade & Economic Development Minister Denis Manturov said, while on a tour of an antiseptics production, according to a ministry press release.  

 

Braiconf switches to face masks to meet COVID-19 health service demand


Braila, Romania-based men’s shirt manufacturer Braiconf [BVB:BRCR] has switched to face masks to help Romania’s health service cope with the coronavirus emergency,  Ziarul Financiar reported on 20 March. Management board chair Robert Zisu said that Braiconf’s cotton face masks are not yet licensed for surgical use, but they can offer protection against the COVID-19 virus. Besides, he added, Braiconf’s face masks can be washed and reused.


Zisu said the idea of switching from cotton shirts to face masks came about when the company could not find enough protection masks for its own employees. Now telecom and utilities insist that Braiconf should deliver as many face masks as possible. With 700 employees, Braiconf hopes to put out a couple of hundred thousand face masks per month.



Beiersdorf to make 500 tonnes of disinfectant to fight COVID-19


German cosmetics and consumer goods maker Beiersdorf said it will begin manufacturing medical disinfectants at its European production facilities to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. The Hamburg-based company will produce 500 tonnes of disinfectants at its production sites in Hamburg and Waldheim, Germany, and Tres Cantos near Madrid as a first step, it said. Beiersdorf will work closely with local authorities to make these products available to public institutions and professions working to fight COVID-19.

 

Coramed under pressure to ramp up face mask output


Owned by the Cosman family, Coramed has received orders toting up to 250,000 face masks, reported Ziarul Financiar on 20 March. Though under pressure, the company cannot shrink already contracted surgery sets and sanitary clothing, said co-owner Daniel Cosman, who noted the company could put out a maximum of 5,000 face masks daily.

 

Essity planning to add face masks to its product range


Swedish manufacturer of personal care, customer tissue and professional hygiene products Essity is working on adding face masks to its portfolio, Dagens Industri reported on 21 March (P.12). Communications manager Josephine Edwall Bjorklund said that soaps, hand sanitizers and face masks are in high global demand now. She said that Essity already offers the first two and is now looking to introduce face masks as well. Essity is currently evaluating where the production will occur, most likely in Sweden or Slovenia. Edwall Bjorklund said that it is hoped that production can start within a few weeks, after which the company will decide whether to start manufacturing masks in other factories.

 

Getinge to produce more ventilators and add production shift


Getinge, a listed Swedish medical technology company, is looking to increase its production of ventilators, according to Dagens Industri on 17 March (P. 18). Getinge is a provider of hospital equipment as well as life science solutions. Spokesperson Anna Appelqvist said that the coronavirus outbreak has caused an increased demand for the company’s products, especially ventilators and heart-lung machines. Production of ventilators will be accelerated as long as the company can gain the necessary materials from suppliers and another production shift is currently under discussion. Italy is currently looking to purchase 5,000 ventilators and Getinge has submitted a bid to supply 500 of those but the result of the bid is still unknown.



HeiQ launches textile treatment to fight coronavirus


HeiQ, a Swiss textile-technology start-up, has launched an antiviral and antimicrobial textile treatment titled HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 to combat the coronavirus. A report on Startupticker.ch said that the treatment leads to a 99.99% reduction of virus infectivity. HeiQ has teamed up with Chinese protective mask producer Suzhou Bolisi to stem COVID-19 infections. The first treated masks will be available in April. Greensboro North Carolina-based legwear manufacturer Kayser-Roth and Chinese conglomerate Lufeng are also evaluating the technology for use.

 

Kering contributes to the fight against COVID-19


Kering [EPA: KER], the French fashion and luxury goods group, announced that it will provide the French health service with three million surgical masks, which the group will purchase and import from China. Meanwhile, the French workshops of Kering’s subsidiaries Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are preparing to manufacture masks while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members, with production getting underway as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities. With a view to providing a lasting response to the current pandemic, Kering has made a financial donation to the Institut Pasteur to support research into COVID-19.



Memo Therapeutics works to identify therapeutic candidate for COVID-19


Swiss antibody-technology developer Memo Therapeutics (MTx) is looking for Zurich-area residents who have recovered or are recovering from coronavirus and are willing to donate blood. The company has started to enroll the first patients and aims to provide an alternative treatment option for severe cases of COVID-19 when the vaccine, when available, does not work. MTx aims to repeat the success achieved with the BK polyoma program when it found a superior antibody within five months. In January, CEO Karsten Fischer had told this news service that the company was looking for investors to close a CHF 22m-CHF 25m Series B round. Since its foundation in 2015, the 11-person company has raised CHF 7.3m in equity and CHF 2.1m in non-dilutive financing, he had said.

 

Metropolis Com shifts from banners to face masks


Marsa, Romania-based flag and banner manufacturer Metropolis Com has switched to face masks in order to meet Romanian hospitals’ surging demand, Digi 24 TV channel reported on 18 March. The report cited Health Minister Victor Costache. The Sibiu Emergency Hospital ordered several thousand face masks, said CEO Cornel Bechea, who added that the masks would not be delivered to medical staff. Bechea noted the masks are appropriate for most users, excluding doctors and nurses.

 

Sanity System, an Italy-headquartered manufacturer of portable sanitation-machines, has sold more than 1,000 units in Ireland this year, a fivefold increase over its Irish sales in the whole of 2019, The Irish Independent reported on 23 March. Paul Candon, MD of Bunzl Irish Merchants, which distributes the units, said the coronavirus pandemic has boosted sales but the technology is likely to continue growing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The Sanity System machines, which retail at between EUR 2,300 and EUR 4,100, use ozone gas to kill viruses including COVID-19. They are typically used to clean vehicles and accommodation.