It looks as though the world is standing still. The streets of Frankfurt are almost empty. The commuter capital of Germany – where last year, more than 387,500 employees made their way to work in the metropolis every day – is unusually quiet, even at otherwise busy spots such as the Zeil shopping promenade or the banks of the River Main. The reason for this, like in the rest of the world, is the strict measures introduced to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus.
While the crisis is a stress test for society, it presents the economy with an unprecedented Herculean task. To ensure that companies in Hessen, whether small or large, do not need to face this task alone, the federal state of Hessen reacted quickly and decided to offer a protective shield in addition to the generous federal support. This amounts to aid of at least €8.5 billion for the state. And if this needs to be increased further during the year, it will be done so without hesitation. The fight against the COVID-19 crisis will not fail due to lack of funds. In a recent statement, the Minister President of Hessen, Volker Bouffier, praised the solidarity and teamwork of Hessen residents: “As people of Hessen, we act and stand together in this time of crisis.”
Entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses in Hessen have been able to apply for immediate support due to coronavirus from the State of Hessen since March 30. Around 5,000 funding applications were submitted in the first six hours. On April 26, around 115,000 applications had been received and €728 million had been paid out. Dr. Rainer Waldschmidt is now looking to the future: “Hessen is the hub of Europe, and not only because of its central location. The Hessen economy is well networked – throughout Europe and worldwide. So the current situation affects us significantly. But I am convinced that our networks are strong enough to overcome this crisis and will enable us to move forward again when the time is right. Towards a successful future.”
In the meantime, business and research partners are working closely on solutions to contain the pandemic – and treat patients. Innovations from Hessen are also contributing to this. A team from the Philipps University of Marburg and the University Hospital of Giessen and Marburg has developed two concepts for simple ventilators. These can be manufactured quickly and relatively inexpensively. They will create capacity in hospitals that do not have enough regular ventilators (www.healthcare-mittelhessen.eu/innovation-against-corona?lang=en). Additionally, researchers at the German Red Cross in Frankfurt and the Institute for Medical Virology at the University Hospital of Goethe University Frankfurt have succeeded in developing a method that greatly increases the testing capacity for detecting the virus. The company Innoplexus focuses on the question which medication can be used to combat the virus. Innoplexus has an AI technology for drug development and makes its Ontosight® search engine with the scientific data available free of charge to relevant research institutions. Ontosight is a kind of google search engine for the life sciences and pharmaceutical industry.
There is also no lack of creativity or flexibility. Numerous Hessen companies have proved this in recent weeks: Breweries and distilleries are producing disinfectants, a trade fair constructor is making plexiglass panes for pharmacies, and a traditional cider pub has become a drive-in for takeaway food and drinks. The ideas are giving everyone courage to master this Herculean task and look to the future – to go full steam ahead after the crisis has passed.
In the meantime, the streets of Hessen remain empty. Because we are staying home. We hope you are doing that, too. And above all: Stay healthy.