BANBURY motorsports business Prodrive has worked with Cambridge University to develop a new low-cost ventilator for global use.

The OVSI (Open Ventilator System Initiative) unit has been designed using components from outside the medical supply chain, so that it can be brought to market quicker and cheaper than the current range of commercial ventilators.

Prodive took Cambridge's original concept to a full working prototype in five weeks.

Read also: Cyclist slapped by yellow Audi driver

According to the OVSI, a consortium of academics, engineers, intensive care medics, civil society organisations and industry partners, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has suggested there could be as many as 10 million cases of Covid-19 in Africa within three to six months. Yet there are fewer than 2000 working ventilators across the continent’s 41 countries, with ten having none at all.

Oxford Mail:

A team of 20 Prodrive engineers worked on the project seven days a week since early April at the company’s headquarters in Banbury.

The team took the Whittle Laboratory’s initial concept and began rapidly evolving the design into parts that could be manufactured from medically appropriate materials in the high production volumes that would be required.

Prodrive also designed the electronic and electrical system architecture and wrote completely new software to control the unit with input from clinicians to ensure ease of use in an intensive care environment.

Read also: Harwell science campus launches its new ten-year space industry plan

The first full working prototype was manufactured and assembled at Prodrive’s headquarters, and, using a calibrated artificial lung, a comprehensive test programme was run against the UK government’s RVMS (Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System) specification.

Prodrive chairman, David Richards, said: “I am particularly proud of how our team, who had no previous medical experience, gave their time freely and brought this project to fruition in record time.

"It’s a true vindication of our strategy of applying a motorsport culture to complex technical challenges that require an innovative approach."