For the last 18 months the ‘Mechanical Ventilator’ project has been supported through the Proof of Concept Scheme under WB EDIF, which ended in 30 January 2022.
The project is developing a novel low cost medical ventilator suitable for respiratory problems such as COVID-19 and targeting lower income countries that cannot afford high-tech medical equipment. These will be the same countries that will struggle to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine program. The target market also means that the number of possible industrial commercialisation partners is likely to be lower than for expensive commercial machines aimed at the EU and USA. The product has patentable novelty: unlike most existing systems that force the breathing rhythm on a patient, this device allows the patent to trigger each breath sequence.
The team behind the device comes from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Pristina and is led by Prof. Arbnor Pajaziti, an expert in the field of robotics. Prof. Pajaziti has previously realised several prototypes including prosthetic hands, robotic hands and mobile robots to help clear antipersonnel mines.
WB EDIF has supported the project to acquire the bare minimum of hardware needed to prove the underlying concept, draft a professional EN language patent application based on comprehensive prior art search and investigate the regulatory landscape for the device.
With the Proof of Concept Scheme coming to an end the Mechanical Ventilator project needs to find further support to continue. This could take the form of a grant (round EUR 50,000) to purchase the hardware and develop associated software needed to take this from Technology Readiness Level (TRL3) to TRL4. Certification would then be needed before it could be tested in the University of Pristina Clinic. In the longer term, the project will need to identify an industrial partner to turn the prototype in to a full certified product.
This situation is not without precedent in the region. TMD group in Bosnia and Herzegovina have developed a mechanical ventilator. Support for this initiative came from the British Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina who helped TMD group to work with the Center for Testing and Evaluation of Medical Devices (MD-TEC) in Great Britain as part of the UK Government’s “Ventilator Challenge” program. As a result of the certificate from MD-TEC, the device can now be tested at the University Clinical Center (UCC) Tuzla. If successful, the device will then be built by TMG group in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
If your organisation or group thinks that they might be able to support this project in some way (with funding or with the search for an industrial partner) or you just want more information, then please get in touch with Lisa Cowey (EU4TECH Proof of Concept Team leader L.Cowey@t3i.co.uk) and/ or Professor Arbnor Pajaziti (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This is considered to be a very good project. If it had come from an EU MS it would have found it much easier to secure support. Lisa Cowey is urging the organisations that operate in the Western Balkan region to help turn this project into a success story.