las vegas – The past year has been tough for startups everywhere, but running a company in Ukraine during the Russian invasion presents an entirely different set of challenges.
Clinical psychologist Ivan Osadchyy brought his medical device, called Knopka, to this year’s CES show in Las Vegas, hoping it will find its way into US hospitals.
He’s one of a dozen Ukrainian startups backed by government funding to showcase their technology to the world at CES this year.
“Two hospitals we were running before were destroyed and one is still in use. So that was the biggest challenge,” Osadchyy said.
“The second challenge is for production and for our teams because they’re bombarding our electrical system, it’s hard for people to work without lights, without heat,” he said.
He came up with the device after his own grandmother spent a year in the hospital and discovered he had to go to a nurse when she needed help.
The system notifies nurses when a patient has an abnormal heart rate, needs treatment, or needs assistance. The nurse cannot turn off the button until the problem is resolved.
“We’re still working and operating because hospitals are open and we need to support them and provide efficiency and safety for patients,” he said.
Like Knopka, all startups in the country have continued to grow since the Russian invasion about a year ago, says Karina Kudriavtseva of the government-backed Ukraine Startup Fund.
“Times have changed, their conditions have changed, but that only makes them stronger because all startups are trying to save the company, save the team, save the business, save their lives, of course,” she said.
The invasion forced Valentyn Frechka to move to France, but he says his Releaf paper company never stopped producing.
At 16, Frechka decided to research alternative sources of cellulose to reduce deforestation. He has now developed a technique for making paper using fallen leaves and recycled fibers.
The company’s main product is paper shopping bags, but they also make food packaging, egg trays and corrugated boxes.
Conflict has forced companies to be more flexible and open to opportunity, Frechka said.
“When this conflict happened, we based the company in France, we found a lot of new partners, we raised money. We’ve raised money for our needs,” he said. “So it really opened us up to the world.”
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