An army of Italian 3D makers is building 10.000 respirators from snorkeling masks right now!

After the positive testing on the hacked respirators based on snorkeling gear,  a massive movement of Italian makers coordinated by Massimo Temporelli and Isinnova is moving and scaling the project.

An army of innovators has registered to produce the respirators based on the Isinnova specs. Decathlon has donated 10.000 snorkeling masks (we love you guys!) that are being shipped to a list of 3D makers with the proper equipment that are building the hack and delivering the respirators to local hospitals in their own towns.

The number of people recovered in hospitals is still growing fast but what’s most worrying is that it’s is not the northern regions anymore, the virus has spread all over the country in remote regions and in the South, often less equipped and less prepared to manage the crisis.  In the next weeks we might see a massive amount of people with respiratory problems in need of oxygen and this could relief a lot of them saving thousands of lives.

Anybody that wants to enroll in this digital war can do it here. Come on, we need you!

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Serve un Startup Emergency Act immediatamente

E’ cambiato lo scenario, è bene che tutte le startup se ne rendano conto per prendere immediatamente se non l’hanno già fatto le contromisure. Da settimane stiamo monitorando il portafoglio di investimenti e come noi tutti gli investitori e i fondi di venture capital in tutto il mondo.

La situazione è disastrosa. Per alcune startup improvvisamente sono scomparsi i ricavi, alcuni settori sono semplicemente fermi: ospitalità, ticketing, eventi e tanti altri settori sono a zero. Per altre startup c’è un grosso rallentamento, le aziende sono ferme per cui rimandano qualunque spesa e decisione non strettamente necessaria. Infine ci sono alcune startup che stanno avendo un impatto positivo, in alcuni casi esplosivo ad esempio nell’ecommerce, ma anche in questi settori bisogna fare distinguo visto che il problema sta diventando sempre di più la supply chain e la fornitura dei prodotti, e i magazzini si stanno esaurendo.

Non solo, stiamo entrando in una fase recessiva che potrebbe essere una delle più devastanti degli ultimi trent’anni. Meno redditi, meno consumi, meno produzione. Prudenza sulle spese e riduzione degli investimenti.

Cosa significa tutto questo?

  1. Fate subito un reforecast dei vostri ricavi, prendete tutte le assumptions e le metriche e analizzatele una ad una per vedere le conseguenze. Noi stiamo ipotizzando che il secondo trimestre sarà fermo, qualcosa si comincerà a muovere quest’estate e speriamo nell’ultimo trimestre di quest’anno si torni ad una sorta di normalità;
  2. Andate a vedere il vostro cash burn rate e riducete tutto quello che è riducibile. Alcuni investimenti vanno tenuti, altri se non strettamente necessari nel breve periodo rimandati;
  3. Riducete i costi all’osso per prolungare il più possibile la cassa e la sopravvivenza.

Tutti i fondi e gli investitori stanno guardando nel proprio portafoglio per fare triage, riallocare le riserve, capire cosa è difendibile, cosa non è salvabile e quanto può essere necessario investire per traghettare il massimo del valore dopo la crisi.

Fare fundraising sarà molto difficile nei prossimi mesi, le valutazioni si abbasseranno (le borse in tutto il mondo hanno perso 30-40% da inizio anno), quindi a meno che siete cash positive o a break even cominciate da subito a capire se e come sarà possibile raccogliere capitali o raggiungere rapidamente la sostenibilità.

La situazione non solo è drammatica ma ogni giorno è destinata a peggiorare, perchè la cassa va gradualmente in esaurimento. Per questo in tutto il mondo stanno partendo iniziative di tutti i tipi per salvare gli ecosistemi delle startup: USA, Francia, Germania, Olanda, Svizzera, UK, Spagna hanno già varato o stanno varando piani di salvataggio non solo per le aziende in generale ma anche per le startup nello specifico che spesso hanno bisogno di misure ad hoc vista la diversa natura della loro attività.

Come VC Hub Italia stiamo lavorando insieme a diversi esponenti del Governo e del Parlamento per far si che anche in Italia venga varato un pacchetto di misure dedicato alle startup.Un primo elenco di proposte in discussione è stato pubblicato sul sito dell’Associazione, lo abbiamo stilato facendo una ricognizione presso le società dei vari portafogli dei fondi di venture capital Italiano.

E’ importante che tutti gli attori dell’ecosistema startup si facciano sentire, occorre agire ed occorre agire in fretta. Ogni giorno che perderemo sarà un pezzo di patrimonio di innovazione costruito in questi anni che si perde.

Chi è interessato alle startup faccia la propria parte. Diffondente, condividete e aiutateci a spingere per far passare rapidamente uno Startup Emergency Act.

Grazie.

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Teaching in COVID times

There are many impacts that this virus will leave on the ground. Among them, here in Italy is the impact that this massive social experiment in digitalization will have on schools and teaching.  We have been one month locked down in Milano, and most of Italy is now about to enter in the second week. Likewise it is estimated that around 2.5 billion people is staying home right now.

Clearly we were not prepared for this, but after the initial shock people started reacting, likewise our school teachers. Initially it was all about sending homework, videos to watch, parts of schoolbooks to complete, then teachers started to organize activities through online platforms like Weschool that in the past month has seen a huge spike in demand. Last week there were around one million people learning on the service per day.

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Most interestingly parents were engaged in this, being home and having to help children in doing their tasks. An unusual experience but on the other hand great learnings seeing how teachers work with our kids and how much they actually to for their growth.

After a while it was clear that all of this was not sufficient, children were missing their schoolmates and their teachers, so many of them started to organize online live video classes. Kids there totally enthusiastic about it, excited and engaged. The first time it’s been a mess, everybody was talking at the same time and it was more of a social event than a learning experience. But right after it all started to go smoothly: teachers and kids learned how to manage communication, mute themselves and raise hands to talk and things got better and better. Online readings, question and answers, live lessons, interactive exercises. Hours were going fast, at the end of the first live lesson all children were disappointed and the main question in class was “Is it already finished?”, they clearly wanted more.

The teacher split the class in three in order have more quality time with each student and set times and groups to be online, now it has become a regular appointment and a great way to avoid isolation while keeping the children well engaged and checking status of their progress.

I think we are learning a lot in these times, and we’re all clearly seeing how some digital teaching tools can be much more powerful than traditional ones. For example math games are much more fun than books, provide instant gratification and engage much better providing a way to scale up learning capabilities by pushing children with gradually more challenging problems.

One side effect of this crisis is that we are running the most massive live experiment on digitalization in the planet and this is going to leave a lasting impact on society.

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Open breath

A team from my hometown is developing an open source low cost ventilator. Now that the virus is spreading in underdeveloped countries, projects like these could help lots of people.

All the specs are being released on the Open Hardware Repository. Thanks Alessandra.

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Two patients for one ventilator

Nurses in Piacenza and Parma are getting now a new device that allows two patients to breathe out of one respirator at the same time. The idea comes from professor Marco Ranieri from the University of Bologna and Marco Zanella from Policlinico of Milano the device will be produced by Intersurgical from Mirandola, near Bologna. In 72 hours they were able to design, prototype and test at the Sant’Orsola the device. And it works.

Production has now started and in the next days it will be shipped to several hospitals that are urgently needing the device.

 


Open source ventilator under development in the Czech Republic

Covid19CZ is a group of tech companies, and volunteers that in the Czech Republic are working to find solution to face the corona virus crisis. They are developing an open source ventilator. The effort is led by the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Czech Technical University, specifically with a group of people who have spent years working on various ventilator designs. The team claims it is nearly complete, it will be open source and compliant with UK and EU certifications. Hopefully specs will be soon released.


It’s working!

500 patients in northern Italian hospitals are receiving right now respirators, produced by hacked scuba gear that was shipped by Decathlon! This is incredibly cool. Big hugs to Isinnova and their team, Massimo Temporelli, Fablab Milano and all the people involved in this! Big time respect. This is the second successful project after replacing the missing pieces of existing ICU ventilators  last week. On the Isinnova website, anybody can connect and learn how to follow the same practice in their own country. This virus is incredibly fast moving, so we need to move faster.

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DIY respirators to save lifes in the COVID crisis

Extreme problems require extreme solutions. The death ratio of COVID here in the Milano region is getting horribly high, mainly because there are not enough respirators, medicines, nurses, doctors and beds in ICUs.

Right now in low infected areas of Italy the death ratio of hospitalized people is 3%, while in highly dense COVID areas like around Milano is 33%.  The situation is such that if you get sick you are required to stay home, they will come and pick you up only if you are really in a respiratory crisis but then your chance to get out alive from the hospital is 2 out of 3.

I wrote about the 3D printed spare parts for respirators last week, now the same guys  are working on a new project that sounds crazy but considering the situation we are in right now it’s not at all. They were called by doctor Renato Favero, desperate for the missing respirators in the hospital. He came out with an idea but didn’t know how to make it: modifying a snorkeling gear that can be bought in any Decathlon store to transform it in a breathing machine.

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Looks like a joke, but it’s not. This is real, people are actually choking to death all over and not only in hospitals, reports claim that several elderly people are dying alone at home.

The Isinnova guys designed a new component that connects the mask to the ventilator, tested it first in the Chiari hospital on patients in need and seems to be working. Of course none of this is CE marked, medically tested and validated from the traditional point of view but again – what the heck! If I was in bed there with no ventilator and it works I would not care less.

All the specs and instructions to build this locally are published on their website.

 


The mafia beaten up by coronavirus

We’ve been under a lockdown for one month here in Milano. Schools closed, shops except groceries and phamacies shut down. All public events postponed (among which soccer and other sports events) and likewise public places such as movies, museums, even churches. Last week measures for Milano were extended to all of Italy.

There are many side effects to this event, some are good stories like the one about 3D printed spare parts for respirators.

Things are hard for everybody, including those from the mafia. Four days ago, Cesare Antonio Cordì, a major ‘ndrangheta boss from Locri, Calabria was arrested because of the coronavirus side effects.

Cordì, 42 years old, son of Antonio called “u ragioneri” (“the accountant”) had been hiding from police since being charged with several crimes last year, mainly related to the ‘pizzo business’ which is the crime of imposing payments to local business for being able to conduct their activity.

The police stopped one man going around town that claimed to be bringing food and supplies to a friend. However they were not fully convinced about explanations, followed the guy and during the same night they watched after the suspected house, that was know for not being used by anybody for years. They noticed somebody smoking a sigarette behind the curtains in the dark and quickly organized the capture operations.

The area was locked down and police conducted the raid. Mr. Cordì was captured while trying to escape from the back door and brought to jail.

 

 

 


Innovation without permission saving lives in emergency

Among the several stories in these days of the coronavirus outbreak here in Italy, there is one worth telling, which happened in the hospital of Brescia,  one hour from Milano.

Thursday last week doctors in the intensive care unit were desperate: they were running out of some spare parts of respirators, specific valves that are required for the equipment to work. The supplier ran out of supplies and there were lots of people in the ICU which needed them urgently to breath.

The next day Nunzia Vallini, a reporter of the local newspaper found out and called immediately Massimo Temporelli, well know expert of innovation in Italy. Massimo came up with the idea to produce them with 3D printers, and immediately started to launch help requests on the social media and calling up Fablabs around the country. But given the current lockdown, nobody can move and therefore it was necessary to find a local maker to build them. In the meantime he contacted the equipment producer whom refused to provide the 3D files and even threatened to sue for copyright infringement.

Of course Temporelli and his friends didn’t care less and found Isinnova, a local startup specialized in digital fabrication that re-created the file from scratch and through it’s CEO Cristian Fracassi went into the hospital to install the 3D printers and build the spare parts needed.

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Sathurday in the evening Temporelli made the announcement on his Facebook page, the valves are working and 10 people could breathe because of the work of some volunteers and 3D printing technology, in his post he said: “there is something I’ve got to say, many people have criticized us for this, it’s true maybe it’s not the perfect way to go, yes we have no certificates…but this is saving human lives. To all of you I would like to say: we win! Cristian wins, the hospital wins, everybody that believes in what they do, beyond obstacles and criticism, works, hopes and acts without complaining wins. This is humanity that makes history and I’m on their side…always!”

There was an hot debate on social media among makers: the spare parts were made taking into consideration several issues related to the various printing techniques, different materials and everything was done in a sterile environment inside the hospital, working side to side with doctors in the first line of war and following their advice.

Several Fablabs across the country, 3D studios and people that simply have printers offered to make these parts for their local hospitals, Now the discussion is moving to how this could be potentially done. In order for the parts to work there are some delicate technical issues, such as small holes of 0,8 millimeters in diameter, which are fundamental. Right now the production is already going up to 100 parts per day.

Cristian Fracassi commented on Facebook:  “I would like to say to those that are criticizing, that suddenly became experts in polymers or say that without CE mark you can’t do nothing to think what it is to be sick in bed, having a respiratory crisis, having the breathing machine right next to the bed and not being able to use it just because it does not have the CE mark. We are in emergency, this is not a normal situation.

Few days passed since the problem came up and the solution was found. Thanks to the work of volunteers and innovators that did not care about copyright problems. In this story wins Italy. If we keep up on this path we will come out stronger than before.