Coronavirus in Chile SCIENCE

How Chilean Copper and Innovation Prevent the Spread of Covid-19

Chilean technology and copper have become useful tools in the containment of COVID-19. Export promotion agency ProChile has allocated resources to assist exporters, specifically small and medium-sized suppliers. The organization communicates with business partners to analyze the possible effects on suppliers, logistics providers, distributors, retailers, and e-commerce platforms. Four Chilean companies, armed with support from ProChile, are at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus.

CoureTex: Reusable Face Masks With Chilean Copper

Facing the growing pandemic, CoureTex is producing reusable face masks embedded with fine threads of copper. The copper prevents the transmission of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This family-owned and operated company, which obtained an invention patent in 2018, said it is the only business worldwide to manufacture this type of product. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial fabric – assured by British certification company Intertek and Brazil’s Senai – has also been used against the H1N1 virus. Unlike paper masks, this one can be washed over 50 times, which, according to its creators, means it lasts up to one year.

ZYGHT: Health Protection Software

Another example is ZYGHT, a winning startup of Go Global – a program founded by ProChile and production promotion corporation Corfo. The firm has recently launched free software that allows companies to protect the health of their employees. The platform works through a dashboard that equips teams with updated information on COVID-19, providing geolocation data and detailing the regions where those affected have concentrated, their gender, the number of confirmed cases, and more. The app allows users to report potential cases and supervise compliance with preventive measures anonymously. Both the platform and the app can be downloaded for free from the ZYGHT website.

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Copper 3D: 3D Printed Masks Made With Antimicrobial Properties

Observing the need for personal protection equipment, startup Copper 3D created the #hackthevirus campaign. This campaign inspired the production of 3D printed masks made with antimicrobial properties and copper particles, giving life to NanoHack. According to the company, “there are several studies that conclude that there are elements that can counteract the virus, such as copper. In fact, this mineral has been used clinically to reduce bacterial risk and the level of virus contamination.”

Claudio Soto, medical director of Copper 3D said, “the general purpose of the company is to use copper nano-technology to prevent infections on a global scale and save millions of lives.” Copper 3D is hoping the design will be used more, and is coordinating with a global startups network, manufacturers, universities, and associated companies that will help print the masks to amplify access.

GenoSUR: A Field Sample Collection Kit

The fourth company, GenoSUR, has developed a field sample collection kit for COVID-19, helping infected patients avoid the emergency room. The device uses a non-invasive testing method that renders pathogens inactive within the sample, allowing for transportation without cold storage. By doing so, it solves problems most countries face when diagnosing COVID-19.

CEO and founder Matías Gutiérrez, a biochemist and PhD in Biotechnology from Universidad de Chile, said GenoSUR started producing remote molecular diagnostic devices in 2017 while developing a genetic analysis kit for a US company. Observing the quick advancement of COVID-19, the organization decided to join forces with Grupo Cellus and Gene X-press to create a solution for the crisis. “We just connected the dots; the technology was done. We are living a global emergency and Chilean innovation can help face this pandemic. We already received requests for over one million devices from national authorities and international consultations.”

GenoSUR is part of the first generation of the Go Global innovation program, which eases entrepreneurs to arrive at innovation hubs. The company is based in Miami, where it owns a laboratory and forms part of the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), one of the most relevant organizations in Miami’s technology and innovation ecosystem. “Our mission is to fix the world through innovation, and this is a very timely example of it,” CIC Founder & CEO Tim Rowe said.

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