The City of New Rochelle is in the middle of a remarkable once-in-a-generation redevelopment of its Downtown Corridor across 12 million square feet to build thousands of new units of housing and create an environment where New Rochelle can lead on culture, community, and innovation. But like any new building, our redevelopment is also prioritizing the amenities and quality-of-life that come along with it, including doubling down on our transportation and technology strategy that New Rochelle is integrating into the very fabric of our transformation into a smart city, a key component to encourage and promote future growth. And one of the city’s “smartest” investments to date has been its new free, on-demand, electric shuttle service Circuit New Rochelle (NR).
This past summer California experienced extreme heat due to the climate crisis, exacerbating and challenging the electric grid to maintain reliable electric service. The result of raging wildfires and prolonged heat waves combined with other grid planning factors led to power outages and rotating blackouts that had not occurred since the 2001 energy crisis. Severe weather conditions, like the summer heat wave, create new challenges in keeping the lights on, exacerbating grid weaknesses, and disproportionately putting vulnerable communities at risk.
In response to the climate crisis which is impacting California at a pace ahead of scientific models, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced his commitment to explore accelerating the state’s decarbonization goals, including the goal of a clean energy grid by 2045. At a press conference in fire-stricken Butte County, Newsom stated, “I think 2045 is too late” to get to a clean energy grid.
These distressing conditions can serve as a catalyst to develop an electric system that can better withstand the consequences of climate change, while accelerating our move to clean energy as well as transportation electrification. As such, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) supports the Governor’s commitment to accelerate the transition to a clean energy grid that was established by groundbreaking legislation in SB 100 and his recent Executive Order to accelerate the deployment of electric transportation.
These market signals from California policy makers, along with a Biden Administration that is supportive of an ambitious and equitable clean energy revolution, call for innovation from our state’s entrepreneurs. At LACI, we are demonstrating how these clean technologies will enable this improved, resilient grid through startups, partnerships, and pilots.
Exactly one month before California experienced its first of two rotating blackouts, LACI launched a small-scale electric vehicle (EV) community car-share pilot that is illustrating resiliency on the electric grid. LACI, in partnership with community partner Pacoima Beautiful, Envoy – a LACI startup – and Nissan deployed EVs to a community center in the San Fernando Gardens housing development, while keeping the needs of the community front and center. At the core, the pilot provides affordable and accessible clean transportation options, which are critical to the low-income community that is also burdened by poor air quality and can lack access to transportation.
To ensure resiliency, we incorporated an off-grid, solar-powered electric vehicle supply equipment with battery backup that can serve as an emergency source of power for portable devices in the event of a power outage. As the public and private sectors work together to create a clean, reliable electricity grid, we need to think creatively about how we can incorporate these types of solutions across every neighborhood.
Along with off-grid and local clean energy solutions, a modern, reliable grid will also need to solve for utility scale technologies. California has done an incredible job of accelerating the adoption of solar energy with approximately 28,000 megawatts installed since 2005. As Governor Newsom moves to accelerate solar and clean energy ahead of 2045, the fast deployment of various forms of storage is necessary. Alumina Energy, another LACI startup, provides distributed and utility energy storage solutions that turn renewables into 24-hour dispatchable resources that are cost-competitive or lower than fossil fuels. Alumina’s technology is a packed bed thermal energy storage that has a 30+ years life cycle – making it cost-effective and a long-term solution. This type of distributed and utility-scale technology becomes even more critical when we think about the diverse set of solutions we’ll need to properly respond to the disruptive and different types of extreme weather events.
(Pictured: the launch of Pacoima Electro-Share with
Pacoima Beautiful and Envoy in the early summer of 2020)
Lastly, when we think of grid resiliency, we also need to consider the energy-transportation nexus. California is a leader when it comes to clean transportation. The state has a goal for there to be 5 million EVs on California roads by 2030 and recently, the Governor signed an executive order to phase out the sale of new gas-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035 and a transition to 100% zero-emission heavy duty short-haul drayage trucks by 2035 and other heavy-duty vehicles by 2045.
LACI and the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) are working towards a target of 30% of all passenger cars in LA County to be electric by the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As we work with our partners to advance progress towards these goals, we are supporting the discovery of new technologies that are needed to enable greater use of EVs and the efficient dispatch of energy, as needed, to support the grid. AMPLY Power and NeoCharge are two LACI startups that demonstrate this insight. AMPLY Power offers customized charging solutions to commercial fleet operators that optimize grid conditions to maximize savings. NeoCharge optimizes EV charging solutions in a manner that makes charging more cost-competitive for apartments and condos, while also supporting the needs of the grid. Additional work is needed to ensure these types of vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-building technologies are incentivized to come online to support grid resiliency.
As California establishes new climate goals, we need to keep in mind that we need to move aggressively and inclusively to meet the needs of a clean and reliable energy grid. These recent heat waves, combined with massive wildfires throughout the state, demonstrate that we need to act now. LACI will continue to drive forth solutions and innovations with the public and private sectors to ensure an equitable, clean, and reliable energy future.
LACI recently launched its latest cohort of our Market Access program, which is designed to scale startups through transformative energy, transportation and circular economy pilots and supportive services. Series A startups in Southern California with less than $25 million raised were invited to apply and we admitted three companies who are now working with our teams to put their innovative tech into practice and into communities around Los Angeles.
Startups involved with the pilots receive: grant funding and access to LACI’s Impact Fund and Debt Fund; connection to government and corporate stakeholders; project scoping, implementation management, and evaluation advice throughout the 1-2 year-long pilot term with in-depth pilot measurement, analysis, and reporting including quarterly and final reports; and access to Market Transformation pilot partners.
This second cohort includes the teams at Circuit and Chewbox, which are integrating their tech in our zero-emissions community pilot program that recently launched in Leimert Park. The other company in this cohort is Automotus, which is working with our team to set up the first-in-the-nation zero-emissions last-mile delivery zone in downtown Santa Monica.
Circuit makes transportation easier, greener, and more enjoyable by building on-demand, last-mile shuttle services for cities around the US. Using an on-demand app, fleets of electric cars, and teams of W2 drivers, they’ve provided over 3.5 million rides without charging a dollar or burning an ounce of gas. In Leimert Park, Circuit’s two Neighborhood Electric Vehicle shuttles operate within a set coverage area for on-demand service from Thursday through Sunday.
ChewBox provides a cloud-based OS for ghost kitchens, making opening a restaurant as simple as launching a Twitter account. They are working with South LA Cafe in the same community to pilot cafe and market delivery across Los Angeles County, making it their first new restaurant integration.
Automotus is a computer vision company that helps cities better understand and manage their increasingly complex curb space while also helping commercial fleets get more dedicated access to the curb. Working with our pilots team in a 1-mile radius in downtown Santa Monica they will help develop a blueprint for cities to adopt zero-emissions delivery zones for last-mile delivery and best practices for integrating sidewalk delivery robots, e-Scooters, e-Bikes, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty EVs, as well as commercial EV car shares on our city streets.
These pilots that employ each of these companies’ tech will provide immediate benefits to the local community with reduced air pollution, GHG emissions, noise, and congestion, as well as improved safety. Additionally, they will provide economic opportunity to small businesses and individuals through access to zone benefit, workforce development through local hires and cleantech job training, and help create an important mode shift for goods and people movement in Los Angeles.
LACI’s first cohort in the Market Access program included URB-E and Envoy, which successfully deployed their tech in community pilots in Long Beach, Pacoima, and San Pedro. URB-E scooters were deployed with the Long Beach Conservation Corps and Envoy’s EV car-sharing service is currently being used in communities that previously had little to no access to EVs in their neighborhoods.
To learn more about our startup incubation programs please visit here.
Last week’s LA New Mobility Challenge at CoMotion LA Live’s three-day summit saw over 120 entries from startups around the world, all competing with solutions in mobility or smart infrastructure. Ten semi-finalists were selected to pitch in the Goods Movement and the People Movement competitions seen worldwide.
After two dynamic pitch sessions, LACI CEO Matt Petersen and CoMotion Founder John Rossant announced the winners at the close of CoMotion LA Live.
SankofaCity won the “People Movement” category for its community pilot program that engages South Los Angeles communities of color to co-create zero emission first-last mile Multimodal Transportation Ecosystems. LACI recently worked with SankofaCity to launch our latest community mobility pilot in Leimert Park.
Zeti HQ won the “Goods Movement” category and the grand prize of the LA New Mobility Challenge for its pay-per-mile digital financing platform to accelerate the adoption of EVs. Zeti HQ will receive an all-expenses paid trip to present at SparkLabs Korea DemoDay16 in 2021, the largest accelerator demo day in the world as well as three months of mentoring from SparkLabs partners or Venture Partners, the right to join Urban Movement Labs as a partner alongside mobility luminaries like Lyft and Verizon, and exposure to the LACI team and an opportunity to apply for its world-class startup incubation programs.
The panel of judges consisted of Alex Nesic (Drover AI), Amelia Armour (Amadeus Capital Partners), Anthony Ferguson (UK Department for Transport), Bernard Moon (SparkLabs Group), Beth Kigel (HNTB), Julia Thayne (Los Angeles Mayor’s Office) and Taj Ahmad-Eldrige (LACI).
Semi-finalists in both categories presented impressive solutions, including MIMO Motor, Maxwell Vehicles, Flare Bright, ElecTorq Technologies, Dynamic Ideas Routing, Eli Electric Vehicles, Inc., BlueSpace.ai, inc., and TransforMax.
Over the past eight years LACI has worked with hundreds of startups companies to help them raise outside funding and gain traction in the market—empowering startups to increase their social, economic and environmental impact in their community.
One year ago, we distilled our best practices, improved our curriculum and added benefits to create a premier cohort-based Incubation Program. Today, we are excited to open recruitment for our Incubation Program, Cohort 2, launching March 2021.
What’s LACI looking for in Cohort 2?
Our eligibility criteria remains the same as before, but our focus areas have been impacted by the dramatic events of the past year.
Most obviously, COVID-19 has profoundly accelerated pre-existing societal changes. Remote work and e-commerce, for example, are nothing new, but they’ve seen explosive growth this year. For that reason, we are more bullish than ever before on zero emissions last mile urban goods delivery and remote-sensing for energy infrastructure.
The negative consequences of climate change became ever more apparent in 2020, especially in California. Raging wildfires and prolonged heat waves combined with other grid planning factors led to power outages and rotating blackouts that had not occurred since the 2001 energy crisis. This underscores the market opportunity for wildfire resiliency, flexible load technologies and vehicle to building solutions.
Finally, at the state level, California policy makers once again demonstrated climate leadership, including California Executive Order N-79-20. This landmark order requires not only that 100% of passenger vehicle sales be zero emissions by 2035, but also that signals that 100% of heavy-duty drayage truck operations be zero missions by then as well. This will open up new business opportunities for charging infrastructure for multi-unit dwellings and business models for electric heavy-duty truck infrastructure.
Why should you apply?
Take a look at our Incubation Cohort 1 and how we’ve pivoted with our startups. Eight months in, we’re proud to say that Cohort 1 is thriving. ChargerHelp, for example, won the MIT Solve Digital Workforce Challenge. SparkCharge closed a $3.3M seed round, followed by making a successful deal on the season premiere of Shark Tank. NeoCharge launched the world’s first UL-certified Smart Splitter. Xeal became the first in the cohort to secure an investment from the LACI Impact Fund as part of their seed raise. And Power Day gave each of our startups the chance to share what concepts they’re piloting in the community.
For Cohort 2, LACI is once again looking for startups that are investable based on founders, team, market, business model, technology innovation and competitive advantage; have a product that is ready to be piloted; and are looking to increase their social, economic and environmental impact.
If you think you have what it takes to follow in the footsteps of Amply, Repurpose, Freewire or Ampaire, check out the application here. Apply by January 8 for our March cohort intake. Not sure if your venture is a fit, or have questions about the program? Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or book a time to chat.
Since 2015, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), in partnership with LACI, has run electric vehicle (EV) pilot projects at LADWP’s La Kretz Innovation Campus (LKIC), home to 32 EV chargers and a 178.5 kW solar carport. The project, better known as the “EV Showcase,” seeks to monitor the environmental benefits of solar paired with EV charging, financial benefits provided to EV drivers, and public charging usage trends. The groundbreaking EV Showcase project, using LKIC as a living lab for clean technology, works with LACI portfolio companies such as graduated startup companies MOEV, Perch and Freewire to demonstrate the latest technologies for EV adoption. Since its inception, the project provides compelling evidence that public and workplace charging influences EV charging adoption and showcases the benefits of a tied-in solar/battery microgrid system with EV charging benefits. These findings reinforce that the goals set forth by LACI’s Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) can be reached by deploying clean energy solutions and EV infrastructure.
Setting Bold Goals
Los Angeles has set bold sustainability goals in the Green New Deal for LA. Elevating these goals further, LACI’s Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP)—an unprecedented multi-year partnership among local, regional, and state stakeholders to accelerate transportation electrification—created the Roadmap 2.0 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and air pollution by an additional 25% beyond existing commitments by 2028. To reach this goal, the following EV adoption rates must be met:
- 30% of all cars are EVs, and 80% of car sales are EVs.
- 20% of all trips shift to public or active transport.
- All public investments into goods movement are zero emission.
In addition, the Roadmap 2.0 calls for 84,000 public and workplace EV chargers in order to support 30% of all cars on the road being EVs. LACI’s pilots, such as the EV Showcase in partnership with and founded by LADWP, aim to inform regional sustainability initiatives that bring the TEP Roadmap 2.0 goals to reality. As the region sets its sights on these aggressive goals, there is a need to understand the incentives, public usage trends and environmental benefits behind workplace and public EV charging and the added benefits of pairing solar to offset power from the electric grid. The findings from the EV Showcase at LKIC can inform regional and utility supported programs that incentivize workplace EV charging, policy making and LADWP rate and infrastructure decisions.
If You Build Them, They Will Come
In November of 2018, 16 EV chargers were installed at LKIC, doubling the overall number of chargers on campus before the deployment. The installation included two direct-current fast chargers (DCFC) in collaboration with LADWP and EVgo, and 14 Level 2 chargers donated by LACI TEP member Greenlots. Before the installation, 16 Level 2 chargers on campus supplied ~6,100 kWh per month – enough power to fuel 18 EVs, based on average monthly vehicle miles driven1. With the additional 16 chargers installed, usage increased immediately and the average monthly demand for EV charging more than doubled throughout 2019. This resulted in enough fuel to power the average monthly vehicle miles driven by 43 EVs per month (~13,900 kWh). These adoption rates have also been incentivized by LADWP’s commitment to moving the needle on public and workplace charging. Level 2 charging on campus is offered free to campus members. By removing these financial barriers to EV adoption, in 2019 campus members collectively saved more than $38,000 compared to fueling costs of driving a gas vehicle the same distance.
Furthermore, when building owners and parking lot operators deploy public EV charging at a workplace, not only will the employees use the EV chargers during the day, but EV chargers will also attract local and nearby EV drivers outside the workplace. For example, at LKIC, charging during evenings and weekends accounts for nearly half (48%) of all EV charging consumption, supplying enough power equivalent to the average annual distance driven to power an EV 20 times. The EV Showcase pilot also unveils interesting user preference findings due to the different types of chargers on campus. Findings from the EV Showcase suggest EV drivers prefer different charging capabilities (Level 2 or DCFC) based on the time of day and the day of the week. For example, 80% of all DCFC electricity consumption in 2019 took place outside of work hours, from 5PM – 8AM during weekdays and all day during weekends. In comparison, during weekday work hours, from 8AM to 5PM, 70% of all EV charging is consumed by the Level 2 chargers. The breakdown of charging consumption by time and type of charger is shown here on the right.
Pairing Solar with EV Charging Achieves Significant Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions
LKIC generates enough electricity from the 714 panel, 178.5 kW solar carport, to meet 100% of LKIC EV charging consumption, while also providing excess clean solar to the regional electricity grid. During 2019, solar generation on campus provided enough electricity to power 43 EVs annually. This carbon-free electricity equates to roughly 487,300 pounds of GHG emissions reduced. The conversion also equates to 24,871 gallons of gas avoided, the annual electricity consumed by 37 American homes, or the carbon sequestered by 246 acres of forests2. In addition, the solar carport generates 16,091 kWh more electricity than is needed for EV charging, sending additional clean electricity back to the power grid or to maintain the grid integrity of the La Kretz Innovation Campus through the synergy established through the battery energy storage system.
EV Showcase Pilot Proves TEP Goals are Achievable
To achieve an additional 25% in GHG and air pollution savings beyond existing Green New Deal commitments, early adopters of workplace charging need confidence in deploying public EV charging to meet TEP Roadmap 2.0 2028 goals. At LKIC, charger deployments of this magnitude have already been met.
To achieve the TEP goal, that 30% of all cars in Los Angeles are EVs, and 80% of car sales are EVs by 2028, the TEP Roadmap 2.0 calls for 84,000 public and workplace charging stations by 2028. That translates to 2.2 charging stations per 100 employees (in an office building) in LA County3. At LKIC, with 256 employees and 32 chargers, there are 12.5 charging stations per 100 employees. LKIC has nearly 6 times more EV chargers than the needed amount to reach TEP goals by 2030. This infrastructure serves as the model for large scale commercial electrification plans.
Los Angeles has just eight short years until the world arrives in our city for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2028; this is an incredible opportunity not only to have clean air and reduced GHG emissions, but also to highlight LA’s sustainability leadership. Leaders who adopt technologies such as EV charging and solar can accelerate EV adoption and reduce GHG emissions. Applying the learnings from pilot projects like the EV showcase are just one of the ways LACI is paving the path to an inclusive green economy.
In many areas of the world, there may be no more precious commodity than water — and that’s especially true in Los Angeles. So, it’s probably not surprising that L.A. has become a font of activity for companies looking to tap the water market in myriad ways. “I think Los Angeles is definitely a hub of water innovation because we have to (be),” said Matt Petersen, president and chief executive at downtown-based Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. “We are dependent on water imported from hundreds of miles away to make the life we enjoy here possible,” he added.
On October 1, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) hosted its Second Annual LACI Power Day Conference, bringing together the clean energy ecosystem in California and celebrating accomplishments that have resulted from bold policy commitments. The event provided LACI Startups with the opportunity to showcase their technology to stakeholders in the region and broaden their potential customer and partner base.
LACI’s President and CEO, Matt Petersen, kicked off the event welcoming guests and affirmed the importance of clean energy innovation and technology including LACI’s support of Governor Newsom’s commitment to accelerate the state’s decarbonization goals, including the goal of a clean energy grid by 2045.
After, California Energy Commission Vice-Chair Janea Scott provided opening remarks, spotlighting the renewal of the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program through 2030 that will invest $1.5 billion in clean technology over the next 10 years. Commissioner Scott also emphasized the Empower Innovation Network Platform that enables users to find resources and funding opportunities and connects individuals and organizations to create a clean energy economy for all.
Innovators Pitch Competition
In the first pitch session of the day, CAMUS Energy and Green Light Labs, graduates from LACIs Innovators Program, a light touch one-year program for cleantech startups in the pre seed stage, pitched their clean technology and how their solution provides benefits in a post-COVID Society. In order to select a winner from this pitch competition LACI invited venture capital partners from Tech Coast Angels, Element 8, and Pasadena Angels to judge the pitches, culminating with Green Light Labs as the winner.
Power Talk Panels
The second part of the half day event was filled with panels focused on two major industry topics: Transportation and Battery Circularity.
The Transportation Panel focused on transportation needs in a post-COVID Society and how to make zero emission and clean mobility accessible to all. The panel was moderated by Aric Ohana, the CEO of Envoy There, who led the discussion with industry leaders including Phil Washington, CEO of LA Metro, Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of MetroLink, Tamika Butler, transportation advocate and Principal of Tamika L. Butler Consulting, and Peter Lee, CEO of URB-E. Their discussion touched on how the COVID-19 Pandemic affected transportation operations and ridership as well as what policies, investments and behavioral changes are needed to ensure equitable clean public transit.
The battery circularity panel was led by LACI’s very own Alex Mitchell, Sr. Vice President of Unlocking Innovation. Alex navigated panelists through a discussion on the potential for developing a marketplace for second life batteries, the challenges and opportunities that exist around battery recycling and how the clean energy ecosystem should capitalize on those opportunities. The panel consisted of Jeremie Papin, Vice Chairman of Nissan North America, Teresa Bui, Special Advisor at Cal Recycle, Arcady Sosinov, CEO of FreeWire Technologies, and Vaughn Blake, General Partner of Blue Bear Capital.
Remarks from UCLA’s Provost
In between the first and second half of the day, Dr. Emily A. Carter, UCLA’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost provided remarks on how Los Angeles is positioned to lead the state and the nation in the adoption and deployment of sustainable city practices. Dr. Carter highlighted the energy and climate research that has been produced by UCLA as a living lab and the critical collaboration between LACI and UCLA that leads to innovative technology solutions.
Incubation Pilot Pitch Showcase
Later in the day, we showcased LACI startup companies in our Incubator program through a pilot project showcase with technology solutions related to Clean Energy, Clean Mobility and Circular Economy Solutions. Pitches from the twelve LACI Incubation Cohort 1 startups companies focused on their Pilot Project funded by LACI’s Pilots Program under its Market Transformation Pillar. Startups featured in the Showcase included: Alumina, ChargerHelp Inc., ePave, JumpWatts, Maxwell Vehicles, Neocharge, Noria Water Technologies, SEED, Sparkcharge, Substance Power and Mobility, TBM Designs , Xeal.
Keynote Speaker Address from Board Chair of the Energy Foundation
Lastly, the day concluded with a speech from our Keynote Speaker, Rose McKinney-James, Board Chair of the Energy Foundation. She discussed the urgent need for climate change mitigation action, additional collaboration, and the intersection of clean energy and social justice. She spotlighted the important role that innovation plays in addressing challenges and advancing advocacy to support economic, environmental and social issues.
The half-day event brought together 288 stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and sectors – Including 197 unique organizations such as corporate business, utilities, investors, government agencies, non-profits, startups, other accelerators, national labs and universities. The connections established through this event by LACI enable best practices and new technology trends to be shared throughout the ecosystem strengthening our collective efforts to combat climate change and create an inclusive green economy. We look forward to next year’s Power Day and celebrating the continued efforts and achievements of the clean energy ecosystem.
Watch portions of LACI Power Day 2020 below via our Power Day 2020 YouTube playlist.
Power Day 2020 YouTube Playlist
The L.A. New Mobility Challenge is a major global startup competition focused on solving the challenges of urban mobility. The fourth edition of the Challenge brings together cutting-edge startups looking to solve two critical issues: Solutions for Transporting Goods in Urban Environments and Solutions for Transporting People in Urban Environments. Interested companies should apply by October 30, and semi-finalists will be invited to pitch their concepts to our esteemed judges at CoMotion LA LIVE: November 17-19. Apply Now!
This year’s Challenge is a joint initiative of CoMotion, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, the NewCities Foundation, and our partners at the UK Government / British Consulate-General in Los Angeles, SparkLabs Group and Urban Movement Labs. The Grand Prize winner receives an amazing array of prizes and benefits: a trip to Seoul to present at SparkLabs Korea DemoDay16 (and a five-star hotel stay), three months of mentoring by SparkLabs Partners, the right to join Urban Movement Labs, intros to key stakeholders at the UK’s Department for Transport, and much, much more.
This year’s L.A. New Mobility Challenge is an integral part of CoMotion LA’s Advancements track of programming. Join us November 17-19 to learn from and meet with the next wave of innovative mobility startups, connect with leading VCs and technologists, and dive deep with highly tailored programming.
Climate science has long warned us of the extreme heat and extreme fires that we are now facing on the West Coast. As tragically historic fires burn 4 million acres and repeated heat waves ravage our state, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) recent executive order on zero emission cars and trucks is the bold action required to tackle this climate crisis.
Transportation is responsible for 40 percent of our state’s emissions and has long been the major source of smog-forming pollution our residents live with every day. Transforming how we move people and goods away from the internal combustion engine and fossil fuels will also help prevent thousands of deaths annually due to air pollution and reduce the risk for vulnerable populations due to upper respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.