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How one high-tech collaborative united to combat COVID-19

Neither a pandemic nor quarantine could prevent this startup community from working together, which is why Newlab is this year’s IBD Design Company of the Year.

How one high-tech collaborative united to combat COVID-19
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On its surface, Newlab might seem impossible to run remotely. The 84,000-square-foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard functions as a collaborative work space, innovation lab, and prototyping facility for everything from robotics to aerospace. (Member companies pay to use the space, affording them access to staff and facilities; Newlab sometimes invests in these companies as well.) But when New York City locked down as COVID-19 hit in early March, Newlab kicked into an even higher gear. Almost immediately, cofounder Scott Cohen enlisted members of the Newlab community to get two projects running: a COVID-19 tracker and a ventilator. The first was developed through AppliedXL, a company spun out of Newlab a few months earlier that takes a journalistic approach toward data, using it to tell a more compelling story. With Stat News and The Boston Globe, AppliedXL developed a dashboard that aggregated global data on COVID-19, clearly showing how and where the virus was spreading. The second project was the Spiro Wave, an emergency bridge ventilator created to address the impending shortage in New York. Using an MIT design as the prototype, Newlab, member company 10XBeta, and manufacturing firm Boyce Technologies spearheaded the development of the device and got FDA authorization in less than a month. Cohen says more than 100 people worked to get Spiro off the ground—not just engineering but conducting product research, doing testing and quality control, and preparing regulatory reports. It’s this collaborative spirit and diversity of backgrounds that shows the true value of Newlab’s community, Cohen says. “An army of people from Newlab just started doing things.”

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See more honorees from the 2020 Innovation by Design Awards here.

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