The Ventilator Project -A story of grit-determination and hope

 

Kanpur: Usually, businesses take a long time to take shape, from an idea to a model, from launch to results. However, there are some that do not follow the traditional norm and breakthrough just-in-time to save the world.

On March 24, 2020, the nation went under a lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There was a lack of medical equipment, hospital beds, ventilators, restriction on movement of goods and people, import and export.

However, during this critical time of unrest and hopelessness, home-grown start-up, Noccarc Robotics under the guidance of IIT Kanpur developed a cost-effective ICU ventilator in a span of 3 months. This solved a major issue that Indian hospitals were facing, the lack of ventilators which were mostly imported from other countries.

The Ventilator Project is a story about a life-saving technology that was manufactured in just 90 days to help India fight strongly against the pandemic. Srikant Sastri and Amitabha Bandyopadhyay together wrote the book, The Ventilator Project, describing the journey of building an ICU ventilator in times of a crisis.

Sastri and Bandyopadhyay formed the IIT Kanpur ventilator Consortium as a task force to assist Noccarc Robotics, a start-up, to build affordable yet high-quality ICU ventilators.

NOCCARC V310 – The ICU Ventilator

Noccarc Robotics manufactured Noccarc V310 after witnessing the desperate need of ICU ventilators in hospitals. Interestingly, the Noccarc team had never seen a ventilator before but the prototype of NOCCARC V310 was manufactured within 48 hours using the components available in the factory and some outsourced ones.

Within 48 hours, Tushar downloaded the entire physiology and anatomical understanding of the ventilator. The team also consulted several doctors to understand the technical and medical requirements of the ventilator.

“Any medical product has 2 parts- one is tech and the other is physiology. Our main challenge was how fast we understand the medical part of it and stitch together the engineering part developed over the last three years”, said Tushar Agarwal, Head New Products & Innovation, Noccarc.

Features of NOCCARC V310

-NOCCARC is an advanced, indigenous, safe, reliable, and clinically validated ICU ventilator.

-NOCCARC V310 ventilator uses turbine-based technology that eliminates the need of compressed medical air.

-It can be used in multiple infrastructural setups. Moreover, it can operate for up to 8 hours without external power due to its inbuilt battery.

-It also has 14 required ventilation modes for ICU conditions, a high flow nasal cannula with electronic control of O2 concentration, and a flow rate of up to 100 LPM.

-It meets all the specifications laid out by the Government of India through the HLL tender and has been tested by a committee of doctors under the Directorate General of Health Services, DGHS.

“During the execution of the ventilator project, I witnessed the importance of being an Indian. This was a time when the entire country was working for a common purpose,” a proud Amitabha Bandyopadhyay said.

Corporate houses and banks came to their rescue and through IIT Kanpur funded the project ventilator. Ansys, Standard Chartered, ICICI Securities, and Info Edge from their corporate social responsibility fund without any guarantee that it will succeed, confirmed Amitabha Bandyopadhyay.

Speaking on achieving the self-reliant India dream, Srikant shared that due to the uncertainty revolving around the regulatory framework regarding the manufacturing of ventilators, it took the team 90 days instead of 60 to manufacture the ventilator.

“We need a competent, strict, and transparent regulator to provide lighthouse direction to manufacturers”, he said.

There are many things that require intervention. Creating demand for indigenously manufactured products is most needed. Government tendering needs to be fixed, the structure needs to change to attract investments, he added.

IIT Kanpur played a vital role in connecting people and providing technical guidance that could help in the manufacturing of the NOCCARC V310. Moreover, it also provided infrastructure support, expert connections, fundings, permissions from the government, and the initial support that Noccarc needed.

“The genesis of the whole project was IIT Kanpur and as we set up the task force, many more IIT Kanpur alumni came in”, shared Srikant Sastri who also happens to be an IIT Kanpur alumni and a member of the Board of Incubators.

Noccarc Robotics is a Pune-based start-up company that originated in the incubator of IIT Kanpur and is into building technology through innovation. Three days into the lockdown and the company changed its line of business in order to survive the pandemic.

(PBNS)

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