In response to the growing crisis caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic, Y Combinator, a popular startup accelerator, is fast-tracking investments into startups that can help tackle the virus.
According to its blog post, the accelerator is looking to bring more startups that can help with the Covid-19 crisis through its accelerator program. It added that Y Combinator is trying to expedite their application process so that investment into the startups’ solutions can come sooner.
Over the last few months, the outbreak of Covid-19 has significantly affected the global economy. The spread of the virus has caused the total lockdown of countries, cancelation of major events while also forcing many companies to either suspend or run operations remotely.
Y Combinator was also affected has it was forced to convert the demo day for its most recent batch of startups in a virtual demo day because of the early outbreak.
This situation has prompted people and organisations around the world into looking for solutions to help combat the crisis caused by the spreading virus. Y Combinator is not left out as the accelerator plans to bring in a new class of startups to tackle issues relating to the pandemic.
Solutions combating the virus
Solutions that the accelerator is looking for can come in different forms as they could tackle either one or several of the many problems and disruptions caused by the virus. A solution could also deal with the panic it has caused.
Y Combinator in its blog post shared some of the new fields it was looking to invest in. They include;
Testing and diagnostics
Finding a way to quickly test for Covid-19 virus especially on a large scale has been a major challenge. In Nigeria, the average time used to test for the virus is about 6 hours, which is too long.
The fact that some countries like Nigeria do not have enough testing kits is a difficulty that also needs to be solved. Also, the cost of testing for the virus is explosive, between N90,000 to N120,000.
Although there are reports that faster modes of testing for the virus are being worked on, it has not yet been commercialized for distribution. Y Combinator provides an opportunity for these startups building faster means of testing to get funding and support.
Treatment and vaccines
Faster treatment and vaccines for tackling the virus are the most sought-after solutions in the world right now. With over 20,000 people dead and about 470,000 already infected, a cure needs to come soon.
Although several laboratories and organisations are working on the vaccine, the urgency of the situations calls for as many health startups with a possible solution to be funded.
Hospital equipment and ventilators
Coronavirus attacks the lungs and general respiratory system. This makes breathing difficult for infected people. Ventilators make it easier for infected people to breathe.
However, with the increasing number of infected people, the number of ventilators available in hospitals especially in African countries like Nigeria may not be enough to meet the growing number of infections.
YC through its accelerator can fund tech startups to mass-produce ventilators at a fast pace to meet the growing number of Covid-19 patients
Keeping track and monitoring people who are infected and who they come in contact with who could also be infected plays a major role in curbing the spread of the virus.
Although governments are sensitizing towards social distancing and self-isolation to curb the spread of the virus, gathering and monitoring data can help the government take further measures due to informed decisions on current areas of major spread.
Y Combinator can provide the funding needed for such data and monitoring infrastructure solutions to be developed.
According to Y Combinator, startups that have solutions that fit the above areas will be fast-tracked, funded and immediately put into a remote program.
For a startup to have an impact in time to address the current crisis, it will have to move faster than most people think is possible. This means the founders need to have domain expertise in the area
Also, YC is looking to invest in startups that can remain viable after the pandemic has been defeated.
They need to have a plan for how to have a significant impact globally in a short timeline. They also need to have a path to building a sustainable business after the crisis is over.
Since its launch in 2005, Y Combinator has invested in over 2,000 companies including popular companies like Airbnb, Dropbox and even Nigeria’s Cowrywise and Kobo360. The combined valuation of the top YC companies as of October 2019 was over $155 billion.
Dozen investment firms have collectively pledged to invest more than $30M in companies pursuing COVID-19 programs
As YC joins efforts to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, Startups selected for the fast-tracked accelerator will get the automatic $120,000 equity funding and probably more, depending on the solution.
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