Greatness is often born from strife. When time is short and situations become dire, that’s when innovative minds burst into action. The hardships endured throughout the span of this global pandemic has seen with it a boom of science, technology and collaboration, here in Minnesota and around the world.

MnTech is proud to introduce a special award category for the Teknes this year, designed to recognize and celebrate the hard working individuals and organizations that went above and beyond to fight the spread of the coronavirus and keep our communities healthy and safe.

Here are the ten finalists for the COVID-19 Community Response Tekne Award.

3M | The Decontamination of 3M FFR Project

In just two weeks, a team at 3M researched and developed an FDA approved testing protocol for the decontamination of filtering facepiece respirators (FFR). The high demand for FFR means that many healthcare institutions must rely on decontaminating and reusing the supply they have. 3M’s protocol supported two of the first FDA Emergency Use Authorizations and the team ultimately formed collaborations with over 35 decontamination manufacturers around the world.

Apple Valley High School | 3D Printed Face Shields

When the pandemic hit and Apple Valley High School shifted to distance learning, the school’s Fabrication Lab Supervisor Chris Lee saw an opportunity to help. With financial support from local businesses, Apple Valley High used their 20 plus 3D printers to fabricate and donate over 5,000 face shields to local hospitals, clinics, senior living facilities and other needy organizations.

Claros Technologies Inc. | Crescoating for PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) acts as a barrier between our bodies and the virus, but Claros Technologies thought to themselves, ‘we can do better than that’. By manufacturing PPE with their Crescoatingantimicrobial, UV resistant, and flame-retardant textiles, barriers are converted to materials that actively neutralize viruses on contact. To date, this technology has effectively inactivated up to 99.9% of coronaviruses on the treated materials within ten-minute exposure.

Digi-Key Electronics | Ultraviolet sanitation tunnel and ventilator development

To ensure the health and safety of those in and out of their company, Digi-Key doubled down. An internal team quickly invented a 15-foot sanitization tunnel built into the curve of the incoming conveyor belt that uses a spray and UV light to protect employees in contact with the 8,000 plus totes that travel through their receiving, picking and packing departments. Externally they partnered with physicians at the University of Minnesota to develop a ventilator to help treat COVID-19 patients.

Ecolab | SMARTPOWER™ Sink & Surface Cleaner Sanitizer

To help protect foodservice operators and restaurant goers, Ecolab developed and launched their SMARTPOWER™ Sink & Surface Cleaner Sanitizer: a no-rinse, concentrated, two-in-one cleaner and sanitizer for food contact surfaces. The Sanitizer has been proven to kill the Norovirus in 30 seconds, is effective against emerging viral pathogens and is listed on the EPA List N as effective against SARS-CoV-2. This new EPA-registered innovation has already been implemented as the standard food contact sanitizer in many foodservice operations across North America.

Graco Inc. | Graco’s SaniSpray HP Product Line

For many businesses, schools and healthcare facilities, life must go on. Graco set out to assist them in the safest way possible, and worked tirelessly to release their SaniSpray HP line of sprayers in April, just over a month after stay-at-home orders were announced in Minnesota. SaniSpray is the first in the industry designed to disinfect wide areas quickly and consistently, providing better sanitizing and disinfecting coverage, in a shorter time than other methods.  The sprayers are compatible with List N disinfectants that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2.

KnightKrawler Robotics, Irondale High School’s Robotics Team | 3D Printed Face Shields

Led by an all-volunteer coaching staff, the Irondale High School robotics team, KnightKrawler Robotics, rallied together to manufacture and deliver over 15,000 face shields to critical health care and public safety workers in and around the area. The team then went on to 3D print 10,000 additional plastic shield parts which they shared with other local organizations working to manufacture PPE.

University of Minnesota Technology Commercialization | Prioritizing Pandemic Related Solutions

In the face of the pandemic, The U of M’s Technology Commercialization research institute reprioritized new tech additions to ensure that the innovations designed to prevent, diagnose, treat, and contain COVID-19 received immediate attention. Due to the collaboration between university experts and industry leaders, many new COVID-related technologies are now available for commercialization, everything from a COVID-19 antibody test to a location and symptom mapping tool

VenueScreen | VenueScreen stations and tablet for temperature screening

The VenueScreen and Venue Tablet were designed for businesses and facilities that require daily temperature screenings for their employees. Utilizing thermal camera technology, a powerful hand sanitizing agent and reliable training resources, VenueScreen provides a reliable scan to safely determine elevated temperatures and other COVID symptoms. Thus far, more than 500,000 people have been screened using this technology.   

Zipnosis | White-label telemedicine platform

When Zipnosis’ White-Label telemedicine platform saw a 3,600 percent utilization increase due to COVID, they scaled their operation to meet the influx of demand. The platform now includes an 11-question COVID-19 screener, virtual visits and real-time updates. 400,000 patients were treated using this platform in one month alone.

Who among them will be awarded a Tekne for their valiant efforts? Reserve your seat for the virtual gala on November 18 to find out. Registration is free!