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Zone startups support community needs amid pandemic

Companies offer bacteria-killing machines, mental health supports, free services and more to community in time of need
May 22, 2020
Person using an app to chat on a cellphone

Ample Labs is just one of the many startups within Ryerson’s zones that are making moves to help the community during the global pandemic.

The global pandemic is having a major ripple effecteveryone from individuals to global economies are feeling it. But during this challenging time, some of the startups within Ryerson’s zones are doing what they do bestinnovating to respond to our daily challenges. These startups are looking beyond their regular business model to devote their time and skills to communities in need. Below is a selection of some initiatives that are happening right now.

Biomedical Zone

CleanSlate UV, external link has invented a machine that kills 99.9 per cent of infectious bacteria on mobile devices using UV light. It’s even more useful for hospital staff looking to clean stethoscopes, badges and other gadgets that come in contact with countless viruses and bacteria every day.

Legal Innovation Zone

Alexsei, external link is a web-based platform that aggregates the world’s legal research data to provide a space for lawyers to get answers to their legal research questions. Now, Alexsei is publishing a series of legal research memos and articles on the latest and most relevant Covid-19 related legal issues for its users. 

Epilogue, external link was founded by former estate lawyers who wanted to simplify the estate planning process for everyone. As a thank you to all the frontline and healthcare workers during this challenging time, Epilogue is making their service free to them.

Optimize Legal, external link provides a legislation platform that makes it easy for businesses to ensure they’re in compliance with the law. To help Canadian businesses and law firms stay up to date on quickly evolving legal changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Optimize Compliance is offering free access to the app.

Visto, external link is a free platform that helps tech workers navigate the Canadian immigration process from start to finish. Visto is teaming up with an immigration lawyer to create weekly videos, external link to review the most recent updates from the Canadian government on immigration, processing and travel.

Social Ventures Zone

Ample Labs, external link is a non-profit empowering those facing homelessness with technology. Their free chat-bot helps people get accurate information on preventive measures, assessment centres, free mental health support and more. The homeless community is at twice the risk of being affected by COVID-19 and COVID-Bot aims to support this community. The team is also launching #FriendPool, which will connect individuals with real people during crisis or even if they just need a friend to talk to.

Tight Knit Syria: Refugees in Lebanon are not receiving governmental support during COVID-19 and must isolate themselves in very small spaces, without an income to support themselves and their families. Tight-Knit Syria has started an emergency relief fund for their artisans in refugee camps, to help them cover their daily living costs.


Air Matrix, external link helps cities prepare for the emerging drone industry by building precise highways in the sky. COVID-19 has created a case for using drones around the world, meaning AirMatrix’s technology will be integral in enabling and scaling the drone operations needed to combat the spread of the virus in Canada. The company has already mapped and developed a significant network of skyroads in the downtown core of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

Clout Jam, external link has started #CloutForGood to create a space for influencers and non-profit organizations to help those most affected by the pandemic. This new initiative is designed to connect all types of influencers with pro-bono opportunities to help raise awareness of many Canadian charities, particularly those on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.

Crowdmark, external link is offering free access to its grading and analytics platform to any institution that needs to move exams and homework online – even if the institution is not currently a customer.

Layla Care, external link’s Supportive Counselling for COVID-19 Stress program offers a one-time, free counseling service to support Ontario residents struggling with stress.

Using their own automated solution for passive population measurement, LiveGauge, external link saw the opportunity to develop a COVID-19 tracker. The team has been working to develop an app to help enforce social distancing, track the historical path of confirmed cases, and communicate who in the community may have been exposed to carriers.

Nimbus Learning, external link will be offering free access to their online tutoring platform to all partners, old and new, throughout this spring and summer.

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