Loanpad development team help UCL & Mercedes F1 develop life-saving respiratory device to combat Covid-19

March 30, 2020

We are extremely proud and thankful to the Loanpad development team who utilised their engineering backgrounds to work side by side with Mercedes F1, UCL and UCLH to successfully develop breathing aids for the NHS in the fight against Covid-19.


This is how the story unfolded.


Two members of the Loanpad team, Jamie Robinson (CTO) and Alex Blakesley (Lead Software Engineer) were called upon for an emergency meeting with a team of engineers and medical staff from UCL, Mercedes AMG HPP and UCLH to discuss the possibility of designing a new breathing aid to help with Covid-19.


The newly formed team created a plan to reverse engineer a ‘CPAP flow generator’ to help the NHS treat patients suffering from the virus. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and, as the name suggests, provides the patient with oxygen enriched air at a slightly higher pressure than normal. This keeps the patient’s airways open enabling them to breathe more easily.


Whilst a CPAP device does not replace a ventilator, the team understood that it can be given to those patients who are not in a critical condition. Therefore, this frees up the NHS’s short supply of ventilators for patients that are most in need, thereby lowering the incredibly high demand for them.


“Time was not on our side” according to Alex. “So we agreed to have a finished design for the device within 48 hours. To do so, we reverse-engineered an old design, instead of trying to develop a new one, which meant that many of the necessary permissions were already in place, saving valuable time”. Jamie continued “the team completely redesigned an existing CPAP device and had the first prototypes produced for hospital testing within three days!”


Merging the high level of expertise from the engineers at both UCL and Mercedes with the clear guidance of doctors at UCLH, the UCL / Mercedes ‘Ventura’ was produced, consisting of only 32 components which simplifies and expedites the supply chain. If it receives approval by doctors in the coming days, the team could facilitate production of 1,000 devices per day within a week.


Enquiries are now coming in from all corners of the globe, and we are excited to follow the progress of this fantastic achievement over the coming days.


We want to reiterate again how proud we are of Jamie and Alex and want to thank them and the wider Ventura team for achieving so much on behalf of the NHS in such a short space of time.


By Neil Maurice



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