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Coronavirus: Sawston company launches funding appeal to help it develop a ventilator

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ROOTS Medtech, a not-for-profit company aiming to ensure medical devices are accessible to all, has launched a £250,000 appeal to develop a ventilator in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Based at South Cambridge Business Park in Sawston, the company was set up by Alper Hulusi and Louisa Harvey earlier this year.

Alper said: “Our aim is to explore medical device needs in low and middle-income countries and ultimately develop cost-effective, sustainable, user-friendly and safe medical devices for these regions.”

Alper Hulusi and Louisa Harvey of ROOTS Medtech Ltd. Contributed picture
Alper Hulusi and Louisa Harvey of ROOTS Medtech Ltd. Contributed picture

Over the past weeks, they have teamed up with Litlington-based Lungfish Dive Systems to develop a low-cost ventilator that does not require electricity.

Louisa said: “Very early on in our journey, Covid-19 hit, developing into a global pandemic.

"It was this development that led ROOTS and Lungfish Dive Systems to cross paths and establish the current partnership.

The Lungfish ventilator
The Lungfish ventilator

"In light of Covid-19, Lungfish immediately directed their time to developing a cost-effective solution to the looming shortage of ventilators.”

Lungfish, which specialises in breathing systems for scuba divers, is currently exploring whether grounded aeroplanes could be used as makeshift oxygen chambers to help Covid-19 patients. And it has also found time to come up with a low-cost ventilator solution.

Lungfish’s Tristan Brooks said: “It’s gas-powered and requires no electricity to run, the whole thing is mechanical. It’s small and therefore portable. We hope it will cost around the £200 mark.

“It’s got all the necessary functions that include adjustable tidal volume, flow and inhale/exhale ratio. We’ve already trialled it on an NHS test lung and have had positive results and we’ve also had good feedback from senior clinicians.”

ROOTS Medtech, which is currently converting to a community interest company, is raising money for the design, development, testing and regulatory submission of the Lungfish ventilator. Any money raised in excess of £250,000 will go towards the manufacture and shipment of the ventilators.

Louisa added: “Please help us ensure this ventilator gets to the regions and people who most need it.”

Visit the GoFundMe page at lnkd.in/eNcPRnS.