Doing good during an incredibly tough year

In 2020, startups in Amsterdam stepped up, worked hard and brought positive change to the city – and society at large. With ingenuity and creativity, they found solutions to many of the issues caused by the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, making life a little better and tough times easier to endure.

Businesses helping businesses

With many businesses unable to open during the lockdowns, several tech companies stepped up to help smaller outfits take things online. For example, the delivery app Peddler allows Amsterdammers to continue shopping at their favourite local stores with a secured direct payment system and same-day bike delivery. Retailers find it easy to put their inventory online, and some even saw their revenues increase.

Local Heroes offers a similar service, but focuses on food shops and market stalls. Consumers can place an order to collect at a chosen point or have it delivered. The e-commerce startup was rewarded for its work in October when it received an investment worth more than €1 million.

Meanwhile, Dealroom.co helps the startup scene at large by monitoring and advising the local ecosystem. Back in March, it published a report, Impact of the Corona Crisis on Startups & Tech, which helped many local businesses prepare for the rough waters ahead.

Sharing is caring

Many years ago, Peerby was a shining example of the future of the sharing economy: an app that connected people with neighbours from whom they could borrow a power tool or a cargo bike. Large investments were made, but then the company crashed. Now with everyone working from home and the app reformulated as a place where users can rent things from their neighbours, a more viable business model has been born, emphasising that rebirth is possible.

Deedmob is a platform for volunteers to find work in their own neighbourhood by doing things like visiting the lonely or giving language lessons to refugees. More specifically, the startup also launched coronahelpers.nl, which has attracted thousands of volunteers and over 100 official partners, including the Dutch national government, Microsoft and TomTom. 

Another connector is Kibo, an AI chatbot that serves as a personal career coach for students to help them find a job. Its startup journey has taken the company from ACE Incubator in Amsterdam to LearnLauch accelerator in Boston and beyond.

Koen Smilde Singel Corsgenburg

Facing new challenges head on

Widely praised for her work in the booming business of EdTech, Diane Janknegt is the founder of WizeNoze, a platform that provides students with access to information from reliable websites that matches their reading level. In this way, the company hopes to close the literacy gap. Many believe the startup will succeed: WizeNoze recently received €4 million in funding to support its international expansion. 

Meanwhile, the fake news keeps coming, but the Amsterdam-based developer Wordproof is using a combination of blockchain and timestamps to fight it. The company is attracting both funding and acclaim – including winning €1 million by coming first in the European Commission’s Blockchains for Social Good competition.

Life Sciences and Health

With 2020 being defined by a medical crisis and Amsterdam being a life sciences and health hub  – particularly when it comes to applying AI to healthcare – it was only natural that local companies shone as they pushed through their potentially game-changing innovations. As many have noted, an explosion of innovation has occurred in the sector, which took place in months instead of the previously projected years.

For example, Happitech’s mobile phone heart monitoring technology was made part of an app created by Amsterdam’s OLVG hospital and medical app developers Luscii. Since heart patients could no longer visit the hospital during the height of the crisis, this app could allow them to be monitored from home.

Described as “Slack for doctors,” Siilo is a secure messenger platform that helps medical workers communicate with research teams and colleagues, allowing them to share important information concerning patient care and challenging cases. Now with over 250,000 users, the startup was honoured in the 2020 Global Digital Health 100 award programme.

And last but certainly not least, Pacmed has been applying its machine learning model to help medical professionals make optimal use of ICU beds  around the Netherlands, preventing overcrowding while ensuring patients are not kept for too long (or for not long enough) which can hamper recovery. The startup’s award-winning team is also involved in a historical data-sharing project with Dutch ICUs to improve patient care.

These initiatives show that some good has come out of 2020 and hopefully, they will help make the next year better on many levels.

Read more startup news from around the city.