Using Canadian intellectual property to help fight COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Government of Canada sent a call to action to Canadian businesses and manufacturers to help deliver critical health supplies. Thousands of companies of all sizes stepped up to offer their expertise and capacity to help fight the pandemic. Among those offers was a group of companies that came together to form the Canadian Emergency Ventilators project.

The project is part of a group of initiatives to manufacture more than 30,000 ventilators in Canada to ensure Canadians do not have to worry about a shortage of life-saving medical equipment during the pandemic. The aim is to develop a safe, effective and cost-efficient ventilator design and then bring manufacturers and suppliers together to quickly ramp up production.

It all started 30 years ago in Winnipeg

The Canadian Emergency Ventilators project is based around the Winnipeg Ventilator, which Dr. Magdy Younes, a world-renowned respiratory specialist and innovator from Winnipeg, designed and patented 30 years ago. The patent was licensed in the 1990s and 2000s, and Dr. Younes' ventilator has been used throughout the world, including during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The innovative minds that came together for this project saw new potential in the technology. Using an agile design strategy, the Winnipeg Ventilator intellectual property (IP) is being adapted for Canadian manufacturing supply chains not normally affiliated with ventilator production. This enables Canada to rapidly expand and redirect domestic manufacturing capacity to fight COVID-19.

Led by StarFish Medical, the effort involves Dr. Magdy Younes and Cerebra Health, along with manufacturing partners that are part of the Next Generation Manufacturing Canada supercluster (NGen). NGen's manufacturing partners will enable the team to source components from within Canada's industrial base. The NGen supercluster is also providing funding for the project.

While the original patent for the Winnipeg Ventilator has expired, the new ventilator will result in new IP in the form of trade secrets, driving a fresh round of innovation to help Canada respond to an unprecedented health crisis.

What more can be done?

If you are a Canadian manufacturer or business that can assist Canada in meeting the need for medical supplies, the Government is looking for your help. The Plan to Mobilize Industry to Fight COVID-19 directly supports businesses in rapidly scaling up production or retooling their manufacturing lines to develop made-in-Canada products that will help in the fight against COVID-19.

Please visit the Call to action portal.

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