Cambridge innovators press on with devices to fight COVID-19
Cambridge product design hothouses Cambridge Consultants and TTP are considering potential international markets for ventilators they designed for the UK Government for which Whitehall funding has now been withdrawn.
Veloci-Vent, made by Cambridge Consultants and MetLase, and CoVent from TTP and Dyson failed to make the definitive round of fresh funding but the partners hold the respective IP and are free to exploit it, government spokesman Michael Gove confirmed.
Both Cambridge businesses are naturally cautious about commercialisation prospects until further investigations have been undertaken.
A Cambridge Consultants spokesman told Business Weekly: “We’re pursuing some avenues to use the device overseas, though there is considerable uncertainty.”
And TTP revealed: “Essentially, we are exploring how to address the huge worldwide interest in CoVent with our partner.”
A third Cambridge product design business, CDP, has meanwhile helped to create emergency face visors for healthcare workers.
Cambridge Design Partnership is working on a project to create 1,000 face visors a day in response to major shortages. CDP staff based at the firm’s HQ in Toft are working pro bono on a project called NHS Visors.
“Our role is to ensure that the face visors are being made to an acceptable standard of quality and safety,” said Jonathan Wilkins, senior consultant at CDP, who is leading the team working on the project.
“We have drawn on our expertise in designing medical devices to ensure that the emergency production line is creating visors that comply with health and safety regulatory standards.”
The NHS Visors project has been set up by Warwickshire engineering and machinery development company 3P Innovation. “When we heard they were creating the visors, we were excited to help out,” said Jonathan.
The project was launched when it became clear the country was perilously short of PPE for hospitals and care homes. Initially, the project assembled visors using 3D-printed components made by hundreds of businesses and individuals with 3D printers.
When 3P scaled up its manufacturing processes to deliver larger quantities, CDP helped by navigating through the rapidly changing Covid-19 emergency quality regulations: “Compliance with regulations is needed but in a very tight timeframe,” explained Jonathan.
“This is a safety critical product and is used by healthcare workers tackling Covid-19 at the frontline. Although there are emergency relaxations on legislation in place at the moment due to the desperate shortage of PPE, it is crucial that face visors sent to frontline workers are fit for purpose.”
CDP's work for the project included developing a strategy for regulatory compliance and testing, advising on quality processes required for the manufacturing process, and assessing the ergonomics of the finished product to check it is practical and comfortable to use.
“It's our aim to ensure the visors are both effective and comply with legislation,” said Jonathan. “Indeed, the visors have recently been awarded a certificate for compliance with the European Standard for PPE eye protection.”
The NHS Visors project initially created 4,500 visors made on 3D printers.
As the scale of demand became evident and future funding an issue, Mondelez International – owner of the Cadbury chocolate brand – agreed to step in and fund the purchase of injection moulding tools for the key visor components.
• As well as the visors, staff at CDP are working on a range of COVID-19 projects including ventilators and diagnostic devices.