By Ian McConnell

A BORDERS firm has seen its thermal-imaging technology deployed in hospitals in the battle against coronavirus after securing early-stage loan funding from two Scottish Government-backed initiatives.

Shock Innovations, which trades under the ThermaFY name and is based in Kelso, has used the loans to help fund development of its technology. The firm, which was a thermal camera hardware distributor, found users of the technology needed compatible and accessible software.

Its founder, Amanda Pickford, turned to software and application (app) development to support users with gathering and evaluating thermal data, providing real-time analysis solutions.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic initially postponed ThermaFY’s business development plans, including several projects which required international travel.

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However, using the time lockdown provided and targeting a new market for human temperature readings, Ms Pickford dedicated resources to software development for thermal scanning stations.

She was approached by a large NHS trust looking to install automated temperature-scanning stations across its hospitals in Chelsea and Westminster and West Middlesex.

Ms Pickford said: “During the first pilot our systems scanned over 150,000 people in just three months. Now the stations are a permanent feature, scanning over 7,000 patients and staff every day, helping to give people confidence that the hospitals are a safe environment.”

An initial loan from the Scottish Microfinance Fund, which is delivered by DSL Business Finance on behalf of the Scottish Government, was provided as part of an overall package to fund working capital as Shock Innovations sought to establish itself in 2018.

Finance was also awarded from the Digital Development Loan Fund. This separate Scottish Government-funded initiative is delivered by DSL in partnership with Lanarkshire Enterprise Services to provide loans to small and medium-sized enterprises working to improve their digital capabilities and capacity.

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Shock Innovations was approached in 2020 by US tech giant Microsoft to take on a project involving identification of foot and mouth disease in cattle in Colombia. The Kelso firm's ThermaFY Agri Tech operation has been working on a solution which uses ear tags to scan, record and send cows’ temperatures to farmers’ smartphones.

Ms Pickford said: “Though our work in the digital health sector has been a big focus in the past year, our partnership with Microsoft to identify foot and mouth disease in cattle is ongoing. We have also been working on similar projects studying mastitis with local dairy farmers, and the Edinburgh Veterinary Hospital.”