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23 April, 2020 - 20:34 By Tony Quested

SATAVIA supports initiatives in fight against COVID-19

Cambridge-based sustainable technology business SATAVIA has been applying its data scientist expertise in the fight against COVID-19.

SATAVIA is participating in the EMER2GENT initiative led by Rolls-Royce R2 Data Labs and is a supporter of the industry-led Ventilator Challenge UK.

Using in-house expertise, SATAVIA has developed a forecasting model for COVID-19 and has been using this to estimate ventilator requirements for the UK and other parts of the world.

SATAVIA now plans to enhance its DECISIONX ‘envirotech’ software platform to include epidemiological analysis capability to forecast aviation recovery. The progression of COVID-19 will be correlated against environmental and climatic conditions, and policy interventions, to understand if there will be a resurgence of COVID-19 later in 2020.

The aim of the company is to provide timely and accurate information on the resumption of the air industry to enable airlines and airports to proactively prepare for the ‘return to service’ of the global fleet.

As COVID-19 is straining healthcare systems around the world, a particular issue is that mechanical ventilators, required to enable some of the most critically ill patients to survive, are in short supply.

Manufacturers globally are working to produce ventilators to cover the increased need.

With much uncertainty around how the pandemic will develop, estimates are needed for the expected number of ventilators that will be required at the peak of the pandemic to prepare and save lives.

SATAVIA contributed to this global effort by supporting the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium, a group of manufacturing and research centres producing ventilators for the UK.

SATAVIA rapidly developed forecasting models for the COVID-19 pandemic to predict how many ventilators could be required at the peak in the UK and US.

The UK reached a peak in ventilator requirements in the first week of April and is now in a recovery phase. The US will enter into a period of peak ventilator demand over the coming days during which SATAVIA expects the in-country COVID-19 death toll to exceed 50,000.

The company drew on its team’s cross-disciplinary expertise in the biomedical sector, machine learning and computational epidemiology to develop realistic projections.

SATAVIA also received support from Microsoft in the UK through its involvement in the AI Factory – part of Microsoft for Startups.

While there is still much uncertainty around how the pandemic will evolve, this work provides a baseline for ventilator manufacturers and governments to assess demand, which can be generalised to other countries.

There are high levels of uncertainty due to variability in the quality of reported data, particularly in the later stages of the pandemic.

Adam Durant, SATAVIA CEO, says: “The SATAVIA team stepped up to the challenge and quickly developed capability to support estimates of ventilator requirements.

“This demonstrates our agility and ability to adapt in this uncertain and challenging period. Our primary aim is to support the global community with actionable insight to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and help prepare the aviation industry to return to service.”

Dr Ian McDonald, CTO-in-residence at Microsoft for Startups, said: “It has been a privilege to work with SATAVIA on the Ventilator Challenge. We have been able to draw from the whole strength of Microsoft – both our people from across many teams within Microsoft, and our products such as Power BI and Azure, to support SATAVIA in its contribution to this vital work.”

Paul Perera, VP Technology at GKN Aerospace, adds: “The work we are doing in the Ventilator Challenge UK has demonstrated the innovation and speed of learning we have within the companies large and small across the UK.

“SATAVIA, a startup that GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce have been working with, engaged with the team on Easter Sunday to just roll-up their sleeves and partner with Microsoft to build a forecast of the ventilator requirements based on predictive modelling. 

“We have been impressed with the way they have worked in the consortia, providing us with business intelligence to stay ahead of the demand globally and forecast our needs regarding the UK supply chain.”

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