Zoom might be taking the headlines, but a quiet revolution is taking place across emerging technologies

Much has been written about how technology has helped businesses operate during the Covid-19 lockdown but, while the growth of big-name technologies such as Zoom grabbed the headlines, the pandemic has also been driving a quieter revolution in the world of emerging technologies.
Malvern-based technology accelerator BetaDen is home to a number of new technology-based companies which, even in normal times, are set on the fast-track to commercialising their offer. But throw in new opportunities and requirements driven by the pandemic and many have found themselves being asked to develop their ideas more quickly than usual, fast-tracking their technologies to play their part in the Covid-19 effort in a similar way that final-year healthcare students have been fast-tracked to professional status. 
Linda Smith, CEO of BetaDen, explained: “As a technology accelerator, our aim is to help technology businesses prove and bring their ideas to market, creating skilled jobs and attracting investment in the local area. One of the skills any entrepreneur needs is to spot gaps in the market or commercial applications that haven’t previously been considered, but it’s fair to say our current and recent cohort members have really stepped up over recent months.”
One such business is Hereford-based Redbarn Group, a current BetaDen member that has seen commercial opportunities open up following an unexpected pandemic-driven change of direction. 
Tom Fenton, director at Redbarn, explained: “Sustainability has been steadily moving up the agenda for property and construction companies since the turn of the century but, while meeting environmental targets is a key part of new building design, it can be difficult to monitor how those buildings are performing once they are completed and handed over to their owners. 
“Our Veritherm technology was designed with the construction industry in mind but we are now actively testing it in the food sector as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. 
“This shift came about when a contact in the food industry noticed that up to 25 per cent of their fresh food supplies were going off more quickly than they should while in cold storage during lockdown, suggesting their cold stores were not performing as well as they should. This is likely to be an issue across the industry – and other sectors making use of cold-store facilities, such as the pharmaceutical sector. 
“We’re excited by the opportunities opening up in these markets, allowing us to use our Veritherm technology to identify issues at an earlier stage and reduce waste.”
While Redbarn has pivoted its technology to support new applications, other cohort members have played an active role keeping medical systems operating at a time of unprecedented pressures on the healthcare sector.

Stroud-based DronePrep is developing a map-based platform to communicate drone access policies in low-level airspace by connecting drone users, landowners and third-party stakeholders. 

They recently joined Cohort 3 at BetaDen and, during the Covid-19 crisis, have helped achieve the UK’s first drone transit corridors in low-level airspace, enabling emergency medical drones to serve vulnerable remote areas

Gareth Whatmore co-founder at DronePrep, said: “The drone sector is a hugely exciting one and one that can truly revolutionise the way we move goods and people in an efficient, green and flexible way. 

“Every new technology has an opportunity to win the affection of the public and often this is needed to realise the full potential of the technology.  We believe that emergency drone medical deployment and other #dronesforgood use cases during Covid-19 have demonstrated that drones have a place within our transport system, adding value on both a social and economic level.”

Claire Owen, co-founder at DronePrep, added: “During lockdown, we became involved in live, government-funded, UK medical drone Covid-19 response projects from the Isle of Wight and Cornwall to Scotland. Each project has seen the value of our platform in establishing corridors for drone delivery use in low-level airspace. 

“It has been really rewarding to play our part in these projects, making a difference to the community at a time of national crisis, and we’re looking forward to shaping the future landscape for drone applications.”

Co-located with one of the UK’s first 5G testbeds, BetaDen is a tech accelerator at the forefront of testing and developing future technologies. The testbed provides a revolutionary platform for businesses to develop next-generation technology, such as the internet of things and industry 4.0. Situated at Malvern Hills Science Park, Betaden offers entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-up businesses a package worth over £50,000, including free office space, mentorship from handpicked experts and a proof of concept grant worth £15,000. Applications for Cohort 4 open in December. For further information, visit www.beta-den.com