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The OxVent is a rapidly deployable and scalable low-cost mechanical ventilator specially designed for COVID-19, which has now been recognised as one of the best innovations of the year by the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

The Oxford ventilator

The ventilator project initially emerged as a response to the shortage of ventilators caused by the pandemic, with researchers from the University of Oxford and King’s College London working together in response to the UK Government’s ‘Ventilator Challenge’. The ventilator was shortlisted from among 5000 offers of support.

Subsequently, the exceptional team of engineers, medics and manufacturers partnered with Smith+Nephew to translate the academic prototype into a safe, reliable and manufacturable product. OxVent Ltd., the resulting joint-venture non-profit enterprise, will license the OxVent ventilator design for international deployment during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The E&T Innovation Awards (from the Institute of Engineering and Technology) recognise and celebrate the very best new innovations across the breadth of science, engineering and technology. The Awards give global recognition to those who are creating innovative and creative solutions, which are delivering a return.

OxVent won in the ‘Small Idea, Big Impact: Global Challenge’ category, beating five competing entries. OxVent fills the gap between expensive complex commercial ventilation systems and basic open-loop systems that lack sensors, feedback control or alarms. It provides the necessary level of performance for an emergency ventilator, yet with a scalable and affordable solution.

OxVent aims to become the global standard of care for low cost ventilators with a fully developed product range tailored to regional needs.

Professor Tim Denison, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, said: ‘the success of OxVent was the unique partnership of an academic team who could challenge the status quo and a world-leading manufacturer of medical devices who could ensure quality and reliability. The mixture of backgrounds and perspectives allowed us to be both innovative and impactful.’

Professor Andrew Farmery, from the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, said: ‘The pandemic stimulated us to think and design laterally, to create a device that was clinically credible, yet able to be built at speed and in volume, at times when supply chains are strained. This was a colossal team effort and we are very pleased to have been recognised in this way. OxVent is now a Social Enterprise company whose mission is to develop its catalogue to fulfil clinical need in low and middle income countries both now and beyond the pandemic'.

Professor Mark Thompson, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, said: 'This award is fantastic recognition for the exceptional team of PhD students, engineers, medics and manufacturers who brought their energy, commitment and technical skill to fulfil a humanitarian objective in the COVID-19 pandemic. This impulse continues to drive OxVent forward as a social enterprise delivering and supporting low cost ventilator technology in low and middle income countries.'