A team of healthcare experts who developed a fast and low-cost way to protect carers working with Covid-19 patients has raised a £100,000 investment.
Mat Campbell-Hill and his colleagues who created the AerosolShield mini-isolation tent have secured the funding from the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network’s (WMAHSN) SME Health Innovation Fund, which is managed by Mercia, and MidTECH Innovations.
The team – who developed the AerosolShield, put it into production and took the first orders within just seven days – has already produced over 1,000 devices for the NHS with the help of £35,000 in donations from a crowdfunding campaign. The latest investment will allow them to put the business on a commercial footing and scale up production.
Mat, a Senior Fellow in Novel Medical Technologies at University of Birmingham, worked with a team including his university colleague Dr Richard Williams and Dr Egidio Da Silva, a consultant anaesthetist at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham. He also received ongoing clinical guidance from his wife Lydia, a GP and specialist in end-of-life care.
The AerosolShield – a transparent, pop-up tent that covers the patient’s head and shoulders – can be deployed in seconds and significantly reduces the chances of carers coming into contact with droplets from the patient’s lungs. The technology provides added protection for frontline staff wearing PPE and hospital porters or carers who do not have access to the highest levels of PPE. As it is produced by an established manufacturer for the NHS, the product meets all required standards for medical use and is highly durable. Staff who have used it say they feel safer and less anxious about going to work.
Mat said: “From the outset, this project has been about protecting our friends and family in the NHS. The end product had to be high quality so that it can be used for extended periods, as well as being lightweight, easy to use and store. We believe that in the future, the AerosolShield will become a key piece of kit for GPs, paramedics, hospital intensive care units and care homes, helping to protect key frontline workers through this and future health crises.”
Peter Dines, COO at Mercia, which manages the SME Health Innovation Fund, said: “The talented team at AerosolShield have done an incredible job to develop the product in such a short space of time and help protect our frontline professionals and carers. We look forward to supporting Mat and his team as they develop a new Midlands-based medical technology business.”
Tammy Holmes, Head of Innovation Exchange at WMAHSN said: “The AerosolShield team is one of a growing list of SMEs from across the West Midlands that we have been able to support with the Fund to date. We’re so proud that we can provide the means to roll out fantastic innovations such as this to help keep our region safe and healthy. We can’t wait to see this new, pioneering technology make a difference to so many workers on the frontline and beyond.”
WMAHSN developed the SME Health Innovation Fund to support start-up businesses in the healthcare sector from across the West Midlands. As well as vital funding, the Fund ensures successful applicants would have access to future investment capital, mentoring workshops from industry experts and access to a network of contacts within the NHS and wider healthcare sector, to support the development of ideas.