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Frontier Tech 4 COVID Action: emerging market ventilation systems

Lea Simpson
Mar 16 · 3 min read

Hospitals around the world are grappling with COVID-19. Key to this challenge is making sure our hospitals have the equipment to treat people with respiratory problems.

In this context ventilators are lifesaving pieces of medical equipment. But there are not enough ventilators for the projected number of people who will become ill.

While engineering firms could consider switching some manufacturing to help ramp production of the vital equipment, state-of-the-art ventilators will still take too long to manufacture. That’s why we’re looking to emerging markets for Rapidly Manufactured Ventilation Systems (RMVS).


We are looking for an existing, proven technology that can be rapidly adapted to be built in the UK. The winning technology will be adapted for manufacture and use in the UK through UCL’s Institute for Healthcare Engineering with GDI Hub, and will receive a licensing fee.


We are offering the winning technologies:

  • Global exposure and recognition for your technology
  • Support from a pop-up team of experts from University College London Institute of Healthcare Engineering to support technology to be manufactured
  • A fee per ventilator or spare parts for the ventilator — to be determined
  • And more…


  • Launch: Monday 16 March (21:00 GMT)
  • Close : Tuesday 24 March (09:00 GMT)
  • Final Selection: Wednesday 25th March (09:00 GMT)

Click here, for more information and to apply.


There is a detailed list of requirements on the application form itself, with a quick overview noted below. The RMVS must…

  • Be reliable. It must work continuously without failure (100% duty cycle) for blocks of 14days — 24 hours a day. If necessary, the machine may be replaced after each block of 14 days x 24 hours a day use.
  • Provide at least two settings for volume of air/air O2 mix delivered per cycle/breath. These settings to be 450ml +/- 10ml per breath and 350ml +/- 10ml per breath.
  • Provide this air/air O2 mix at a peak pressure of 350 mm H2O.
  • Have the capability for patient supply pipework to remain pressurised at all times to 150mm H20.
  • Have an adjustable rate of between 12 and 20 cycles/breaths per minute.
  • Deliver at least 400ml of air/air 02 mix in no more than 1.5 seconds. The ability to change the rate at which air is pushed into the patient is desirable but not essential.
  • Be built from O2 safe components to avoid the risk of fire and demonstrate avoidance of hot spots.
  • Be capable of breathing for an unconscious patient who is unable to breathe for his or herself. Ability to sense when a patient is breathing, and support that breathing is desirable but not essential.
  • Be able to supply pure air and air O2 mix at a range of concentrations including at least 50% and 100% Oxygen. Oxygen shortages are not expected, but the ability to attach a Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) portable O2 concentrator machine may be a useful feature.
  • Support connections for hospital Oxygen supplies — whether driven by piped or cylinder infrastructure
  • Be compatible with standard COTS catheter mount fittings (15mm Male 22mm Female)
  • Fail SAFE, ideally generating a clear alarm on failure. Failure modes to be alarmed include (but are not limited to) pressure loss and O2 loss

Click here, for more information and to apply.

Lea Simpson

Written by

Founder of Brink, Team Leader of the Frontier Technologies Hub. Tech optimist and lifelong nerd.

Frontier Technologies Hub

Working with the UK Dept. for International Development to apply frontier technologies to the biggest challenges in development.

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