Genius & generosity: Good news stories emerging from the Coronavirus crisis

April 8, 2020

The Coronavirus crisis has inspired innovation and generosity around the globe. Here are our favourite good-news initiatives from the past month:

Tech repurposed

Existing technology is being deployed in new ways to address the new challenges the world is facing. 3D printing, while not a new concept, never really took off in the way it was predicted to. But the current environment has created an opportunity for it to thrive. Designers in the 3D printing sector have responded by rapidly creating and freely sharing designs for personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line hospital staff, medical equipment and more.

  • Architects in America, co-ordinated by AAP at Cornell University, designed a hole-punched clear plastic sheet that fits onto a visor frame. They have now collaborated with other practices to improve the design and reduce printing times.
  • In Spain Nagami Design have adapted a robotic arm, usually used to print furniture, to produce 500 face masks a day, which are donated to nearby hospitals.
  • Chinese company Creality called on owners of 3D printers to unite and create plastic buckles to make surgical face masks more comfortable.
  • Italian company Isinnova has collaborated with Decathlon to modify snorkelling masks, turning them into emergency masks for respiratory machines, which can then be used as ventilators.  
  • German 3D printing studio Materialise has developed a hands-free door handle attachment, helping reduce the spread of infection.
Isinnova's emergency face mask

Retail innovation

Brands and retailers have been responding to the crisis with public service initiatives for the customers or for front-line health workers.

  • Before the forced closure of its shops, Lush cosmetics invited people in-store to wash their hands for free.
  • Pret was one of the first to announce free hot drinks and a 50% discount to NHS workers, with many other companies following suit. Meanwhile, Uber Eats pledged free food for healthcare workers across Canada and America alongside promoting delivery from 100,000 independent restaurants and waiving delivery fees.
  • Woolworths Australia was one of the first to offer exclusive shopping times for vulnerable shoppers, and UK supermarkets have been offering vulnerable customers exclusive online delivery slots.  
  • Morrisons re-purposed its Bradford fruit picking facility to assemble pre-packed food boxes that can be ordered online or purchased on the day from their click & collect hospital carpark service for NHS staff. The small-scale initiative is now expanding across the north of England.
  • Work has begun on Tesco's first Nightingale pop-up store at the NEC in Birmingham, with plans to provide the service to all NHS Nightingale sites so healthcare workers can easily access essential food and drink
Morrisons launches NHS food box

Acts of generosity

Beyond the public service-type initiatives, some brands are just being plain nice, offering generous practical or emotional solutions to problems caused by the pandemic.

  • A luxury Spanish bridal dress brand, Pronovias, is giving hospital workers free wedding gowns. It began earlier this year in China with the “The Heroes Collection” and is available in several countries around the world.
  • Sustainable footwear retailer Allbirds is offering 2,000 free pairs of shoes to NHS workers.
  • Car rental company Enterprise have waived fees for college student renters having to leave university, and moving company U-Haul is offering students 30 days' free storage.
  • The Tate has created a series of free programmes designed to keep children creatively occupied at home, ranging from Make a Rainbow to Create Art Like Van Gogh.
  • And in response to concerns from frontline staff about using crowded public transport, Brompton Bikes has set up a rental scheme for commuting NHS workers to borrow its folding bikes. The company is in the process of building these bikes in NHS colours, and will continue the initiative after the current crisis is over, creating a positive legacy for the scheme.
Tate Kids: Make marbled paper with foam

New Initiatives

Along with its bottling partners and The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola are contributing over $120m globally to support COVID-19 relief efforts in affected communities.

N2O are helping Coca-Cola GB answer the need for drink donations, and so far thousands of drinks have been donated to front line workers, key workers and food banks across the country. ‍

One of the tweets received thanking Coca-Cola GB.

We'll be interested to see what other initiatives come on line, particularly in relation to technology and product innovation. No doubt we'll be able to share a 'Good news: Part 2' blog in coming weeks, so stay tuned!

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