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NSW Government Ventilator Innovation Project announces completed emergency ventilator solutions

9 September 2020

NSW Health, together with our university and industry partners, is proud to celebrate the success of the NSW Government’s Ventilator Innovation Project and unveil the completed NSW-developed emergency ventilator solutions. 

In addition to developing low-cost, life-saving ventilator solutions if back-up capacity is required, the project has provided unique training and career development opportunities for the next generation of medical, engineering and trade specialists.

University of Sydney Westmead Initiative Director Professor Chris Peck said the Ventilator Innovation Project provided an opportunity for students and apprentices to step up and gain valuable experience and insights that will help shape their careers as creative problem solvers.

“This project showcases the incredible work that is enabled by university, industry and government partnerships. It provides real-life training opportunities for our students and apprentices in the midst of a global pandemic,” Professor Peck said.

“Partnerships are essential to the success of the work we do in NSW. Working together, NSW has remained ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic and shows what is possible when different sectors work together on shared goals. This partnership has seen to the rapid development of a low-cost ventilator solution using modern design tools and 3-D printing technology.”

Ampcontrol Chief Executive Officer Rod Henderson acknowledged the fantastic contribution of university students and apprentices who have helped design and develop the prototype ventilators.

"To see these students and apprentices stepping up to help develop innovative solutions to the challenges we face not only here in NSW, but across Australia and overseas, is something we should all be very proud of,” Mr Henderson said. 

Health Infrastructure Chief Executive Rebecca Wark said partnerships and collaboration have been essential to the success of this project.

“Collaboration is key to everything we do in NSW Health and informs the way we work. Bringing our industry and university partners together helps us develop creative solutions to the challenges we face, not only today with COVID-19, but into the future,” Ms Wark said.

“This project also highlights that the depth of skills that we have within Health Infrastructure enable us to do more than just our business as usual. Our design and construction managers are brilliant at problem solving, driving tasks, coordinating processes. These skilled people have allowed us to quickly pivot and respond and deliver a different type of project.”

“We see our partners as an extension of our existing team, they have helped us to innovate and solve intense challenges in a very short space of time,” Ms Wark said.

“Collaboration is key to what we do at Health Infrastructure and informs the way we work. Bringing our industry and university partners together helps us develop creative solutions to the challenges we face, not only today with COVID-19, but into the future.”

The Ventilator Innovation Project was initiated due to the need to quickly provide back-up ventilators if required in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manufacturers were selected in May, and have now delivered two emergency ventilator solutions, which were designed, built and tested in Sydney and Newcastle since May.

The ‘CoVida’ ventilator led by the University of Sydney with clinicians at Westmead, Nepean and Royal North Shore hospitals, and the ‘Ventasys’ ventilator developed by Newcastle-based engineering firm, Ampcontrol, with clinicians at the John Hunter Hospital, can be rapidly manufactured in NSW and do not compete for components with current model ventilators. Both projects have been coordinated by NSW Health, with Health Infrastructure taking a leading coordination role.

The pre-production stage for both ventilators is nearing completion, with applications for Permission to Supply for COVID-19 use in Australia submitted for Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval.

The NSW Government previously announced $800 million for NSW Health to support the health system including significantly increasing capacity in NSW public hospitals, particularly within ICUs.


Project Fast Facts:
  • Health Infrastructure has been working with universities and industry partners to rapidly progress the NSW-based manufacture of back-up ventilator solutions, should they be required in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and potentially overseas.
  • The project began in late March 2020.
  • This project is part of the NSW Government previously announced $800 million to support the NSW Health System’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, including significantly increasing capacity in NSW public hospitals, particularly within ICUs. 
  • Following a call to academics, clinicians and engineers, two prototypes were selected for further development. These prototypes address the global challenge of supplying much-needed ventilation equipment to support frontline workers. 
  • The two ventilator solutions are part of a multi-pronged approach to rapidly manufacture ventilator systems and source existing, available ventilators.
  • Biomedical students from the University of Sydney examined, tried and tested ventilator technology and rapidly designed a simple, low-cost ventilator. The CoVida ventilator can be manufactured in NSW without competing for components with current model ventilators. 
  • The University of Sydney’s first prototype was successfully built in April and further models have been manufactured, subjected to clinical assessment and testing and are now going through the regulatory approvals process. 
  • The Ventasys ventilator is a new design of a relatively sophisticated ventilator led by Ampcontrol (a Newcastle-based mining and process control technology firm), working in partnership with other NSW businesses and the clinicians at John Hunter Hospital. 
  • Biomedical and medical students from the University of NSW (UNSW) also played a crucial role in sourcing existing available ventilators and piloting the process of preparing them for deployment to NSW public hospitals.
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