On the 16th of March 2020, the Government asked UK industry to support the NHS in its fight against COVID-19. The VentilatorChallengeUK (VCUK) Consortium, led by the HVM Catapult’s outgoing CEO Dick Elsy and made up of more than 33 businesses from the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, came together at speed to build medical ventilators.

The Consortium worked with great determination and energy to deliver critical Penlon ESO 2 and Smiths paraPACTM plus ventilators to the NHS throughout the crisis. In a matter of weeks, VCUK established, from scratch, seven new large-scale manufacturing facilities; set-up new parallel supply chains; acquired some 42 million parts and electronic components from 22 countries; achieved full MHRA approval for the Penlon ESO 2 device in just three weeks; and recruited and trained a 3,500 front-line assembly team in a new age of social distancing. The Consortium delivered an incredible 13,437 ventilators in just 12 weeks.

The HVM Catapult’s Centres were closely involved throughout the effort, with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s (AMRC) new Welsh facility at Broughton transformed into a full-scale production line.

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