The CoVent-19 Challenge provides millions of engineers and designers an opportunity to help with the ventilator crisis. (Graphic: Business Wire)

Global, open innovation project aims to develop a rapidly deployable mechanical ventilator

BOSTON and EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—A dozen Boston area anesthesiology residents have launched an eight-week hackathon, hosted on GrabCAD.com, to design a rapidly deployable, minimum viable mechanical ventilator for patients with COVID-19-related ventilator-dependent lung injury. The CoVent-19 Challenge is open to teams and individuals anywhere. Finalists will work directly with Stratasys 3D printing experts and the CoVent-19 Challenge team to turn their designs into prototypes for testing.

“As anesthesiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital, we are experts at using ventilators to care for critically ill patients, so it was natural for us to feel an immediate calling to do something about the ventilator shortage,” said Dr. Richard Boyer, founder and director of the CoVent-19 Challenge, in a release from Stratasys. “We’ve been watching as countries around the world struggle with providing invasive mechanical ventilation to all who need it. Despite the important efforts by ventilator manufacturers to ramp up their own production, there’s a need for a solution, particularly for areas where standard mechanical ventilators may be hard to obtain.”

Current sponsors include Stratasys Ltd., Ximedica, Valispace, HackFund, and Yelling Mule. Stratasys is providing the top three winners with a total of $10,000 in credits that they can use for 3D-printed parts from Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

According to one Chinese medical device maker, the demand for ventilators due to COVID-19 is at least ten times what’s available in hospitals around the world. In Italy, doctors are reportedly being forced to triage patients because of a severe ventilator shortage. In the U.S., current ventilation capacity is about 170,000 patients, but according to some projections, nearly one million patients may need mechanical ventilation.

The challenge will run on Stratasys’s GrabCAD Challenge site, which reaches a community of more than 7 million professional designers, engineers, manufacturers, and students. Anyone can participate. The general entry round, focused on initial designs, will run for four weeks. A panel of judges, including Stratasys Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Scott Crump, will up to 20 finalists.

Judges will evaluate “minimum-viable” ventilator designs that minimize cost, complex software, and electronics, while assessing safety, reliability, and manufacturability.

Finalist teams will work with medical and technical experts through a four-week invitation-only round to develop and test functional prototypes. Stratasys application engineers will provide 3D printing consulting and services to the finalists, the company said in the release.

The CoVent-19 Challenge team is working with private and public sector partners to expedite U.S. government approval of a winning design. The team has secured experts in regulatory measures and safety testing to ensure all products meet U.S. and international standards, Stratasys said.

For more information on how Stratasys is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and how others can help, visit www.stratasys.com/covid-19.

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