From its prompting of citizens to socially distance themselves to its rising infection rates and economic devastation, the novel coronavirus pandemic has meant unprecedented, tragic disruption. It’s against that backdrop that a Black & Veatch initiative is leading a push to find and collaborate with startups and other innovators to expedite solutions that soften COVID-19’s impact on communities, with the hope that the future applications also extend beyond the pandemic itself.
As a virtual, remote effort, the “2020 Black & Veatch IgniteX COVID-19 Response Accelerator” is seeking emerging companies and entrepreneurs that have ideas about how to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak but who need help commercializing, rapidly deploying and scaling those concepts.
The range of possible solutions runs the gamut, from testing, screening and disinfection technologies to emergency medical facilities, autonomous delivery networks, biotech-related services, distance learning and training, and disease-tracking software.
Under the innovation-minded Growth Accelerator incubator within Black & Veatch – a global engineering, construction and consulting leader – the IgniteX COVID-19 Response Accelerator is committing at least $250,000 in grants or in-kind services. Those offerings will be used to support recruitment and collaboration as part of the campaign.
With more than 10,000 employees in over 100 offices around the globe, Black & Veatch has the breadth of resources to develop, distribute and scale solutions with greater speed and efficacy. Black & Veatch can also leverage its ability to create connections between mentors, customers and investors. The firm already has several civic, corporate, and academic partners and advisors on board to support the program, including LaunchKC; Advance Concepts® Studios, a Koch Industries incubator; and the University of Missouri.
“For all of the disruption it has wrought around the world, this pandemic also presents an important moment for outside-the-box thinkers to develop solutions for the greater good,” said Ryan Pletka, Vice President of Innovation & Strategy at Black & Veatch. “With our reach and intellectual capital, we stand ready to support innovators looking to make a difference now.”