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31 March, 2020 - 16:47 By Tony Quested

Sagentia works on 10,000 ventilators for UK Government

A team from product design innovator Sagentia in Cambridge has developed, prototyped and documented in a standalone project a proprietary ventilator in answer to the UK Government’s call for life saving medical equipment.

The highly intensive Sagentia Ventilator development programme is continuing to be funded by the Government on a time and materials basis.

The Sagentia Ventilator adopts a different approach from other participants in the UK Government RMVS initiative by primarily using conventional fabrication techniques (eg CNC machining and laser cutting), services which can be supplied by a wide range of manufacturing partners. 

As such, this innovative design minimises sourced components (which are currently in high demand around the world) and also provides an intuitive user interface to facilitate rapid deployment with minimal training.

A working prototype has been produced and 20 trial units are currently in the process of being manufactured. These units will be used for evaluation and submitted for regulatory approval through the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 

As with any medical device, there can be no certainty that the unit will receive regulatory approval or that the Sagentia version will enter production.

A manufacturing contract is being negotiated by Sagentia’s parent company Science Group plc with the UK Government, for production of 10,000 units of the ventilator subject to receiving MHRA approval. These units will be manufactured by a subsidiary of Science Group and/or subcontract manufacturing organisations. 

The Manufacturing Contract is anticipated to provide Science Group with the necessary working capital and cash flow for materials procurement, labour, overheads and set up costs. Certain long lead-time components have already been ordered to accelerate the manufacturing schedule of the Sagentia Ventilator.

Science Group has acknowledged the unprecedented collaboration between normally competitor Cambridge-based consultancies, together with the support provided by the Government in their determination to deliver this critical initiative. 

Science Group plc has simultaneously issued a trading update for Q1 of 2020 and says it has been broadly in line with the board's expectations. At March 28, group cash was £14.4 million and net debt £1.9m. 

The plc’s bank loan is secured on the group's substantial freehold property assets and is not subject to operating covenants until the net debt level exceeds £10m, providing substantial headroom for the group.

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