There’s nothing like a crisis to force people to innovate quickly. I’ve been impressed by a pile of companies in the last 100 days that refused to sit on their hands and instead have innovated or pivoted quickly to facilitate new opportunities.

Early on in the crisis I read that Tesco had doubled its number of delivery slots and planned to reach a volume of 1.2 million slots per week. Before lockdown, that roll out had been planned to take two years but there’s no harder taskmaster than necessity, so when push came to shove, Tesco delivered.

Closer to home

Closer to home, two of our clients have contributed to addressing the crisis in their own ways. Aquarium Software, a company that usually creates digital platforms for pet and travel insurance, was involved in the efforts to onboard former members of the NHS quickly using its technology. Meanwhile Sky Medical Technology, a company with a medtech device that reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in hospitalised patients, provided its devices to hospitals as it became clear that Coronavirus was closely associated with a high risk of DVT.

Smaller businesses innovating as a lifeline

Two of the companies I’ve been keeping in contact with during lockdown both say revenues tumbled initially, none more so than Go Zero. This 100 percent electric taxi service saw revenues fall as people stopped travelling. Despite this the CEO is overwhelmingly positive about the future and, when I met with him face to face earlier this week (wow – a real meeting!) he outlined how the company had used the time to refocus and diversify their proposition.

Meanwhile my favourite luggage company, Gate8, which provides crew luggage to the likes of Jet 2 and Easyjet also saw a fall in order. Instead the company used its supply chain expertise to provide PPE equipment to airlines and branched out into passenger hygiene kits. Check these out here.

Innovate out of the problem

Just last week I saw the best example to date. A Seattle-based innovation company, Teague, showcased a 3D printed product called AirShield, which clips onto the air blowers above your head in an aircraft to create a magic air curtain around each passenger. When a passenger coughs or sneezes, the particles are directed not onto the person in the next seat but immediately down to the air filtration system, reducing the risk of the spread of virus. The story took off globally as you will see if you search Google News for Teague Airshield – although modesty forbids me to tell you which PR company was behind the story!

Innovation often comes slowly, simple because we are too busy making hay while the sun shines to seek the next big thing. When there is not a choice, it’s amazing how much can be achieved in such a short period of time. It should be stressed, however that I would now quite like normal back!