Dear Members of the NextFlex FHE Community,
We are week five of the “Shelter at Home” order here in San Jose, CA, and have adapted well to new ways of working together. Even though the news is still dire, we’re staying focused on how we can continue to move technology development ahead while responding to the varied government requests for how the NextFlex community can help combat the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve posted a resources page on our website that includes links to calls for project ideas for NIST funding, help for small businesses, and other essential information. If you find other resources that would be helpful to NextFlex members, please send them along and we’ll get them posted.
In our recent survey of NextFlex members, we learned that almost 60% are in a combination work situation with most staff working from home and some working onsite on project-specific work (responses in this category were mostly from corporate members). Just over 40% are fully working from home. The advanced and essential nature of flexible hybrid electronics development, especially for DoD applications, necessitates this ongoing work. Two areas of great concern emerged from the survey results. First, NextFlex members are concerned about the ability to perform on current projects and, as a result, NextFlex is in contact with project leads to assess the nature of these concerns. Of even greater concern is the long-term impact that the COVID-19 crisis could have on future sources of funding, especially as the government turns its attention to more urgent matters driven by the crisis and the economic recovery to follow. Finally, we learned that some members have adapted well to offsite work, utilizing online project tracking software and video conferencing, but for those who are hands on in the lab or manufacturing, it’s an extremely unproductive time. Our key takeaway from the survey is that while it’s been frustrating to be forced to change the way we work and learn, many of us have found a way to do just that. Perhaps these changes will end when we return to the new “normal,” but perhaps some new habits will stick.
Remote health monitoring systems have the potential to transform healthcare in ways not broadly understood prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Now is the time to bring these technologies, many of them driven by FHE, to healthcare providers so that they may be better prepared to confront this and future pandemics. Let’s be more aggressive in pushing the best ideas forward and let us know how we can help. I look forward to working with you and preparing for what’s next.
Malcolm J. Thompson, PhD