Portuguese tech startups rally to coronavirus cause

Portugal has shut down in response to coronavirus, but its tech scene is booting up.

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A new consortium of Portuguese startups has formed to create technological solutions as the response to Covid-19 has brought much of traditional life to a standstill. Like much of the United States, Portugal is largely shut down in an effort to stem new cases of the virus, which in that country stand at over 2000 as of this writing.

In short order, more than 120 companies and 2000 people from diverse tech backgrounds -- areas such as cybersecurity, health, maintenance, human resources, consulting, cloud services, e-commerce, medical devices, among many others -- have banded together to form the tech4COVID19 movement.

So far the group has more than a dozen projects in development, including solutions to improve tracking of contagion networks and facilitate telemedicine services. One project is creating a support network for displaced doctors and health workers. There's also a chatbot in the works to answer questions about support granted by the state to companies and individuals, an endeavor that speeds up purchase of hospital supplies, and various methods of disseminating information and increasing access to vital data.

The tech4COVID19 group plans to create a unified platform where Portuguese citizens can access all of the projects, with a launch date TBD. 

"There is so much talent, potential, and an ability to do great things within Portuguese startups that our motivation was to direct that potential towards initiatives that would help everyone in this difficult period", says Felipe Ávila da Costa, spokesman for the tech4COVID19 group.

Tech communities around the world are trying to find ways to pitch in. In Washington State, tech players teamed up with local sports personalities and recently pledged $27 million to help people affected by Covid19, an initiative called All in Seattle. Google, blindsided by President Trump's proclamation that it was building a website, has since gone ahead with efforts to build two websites to help people stay abreast of information about the virus.

In Portugal, the coordinated tech response is providing some hope of useful tools in what has often felt like a hopeless situation. The group and the respective leaders of each project are in contact with health professionals and leaders of government services.