It's a story of ingenuity, resilience and above all collaboration. In February 2020, we started to see the potential impact of COVID-19 on medical supply stockpiles and supply chains globally. There are only a handful of ventilator manufacturers in the world, and as the crisis rapidly deepened, governments around the globe pushed for increased production. Grey Innovation Executive Chairman, Jefferson Harcourt felt duty bound to explore what his company, as a medical device manufacturer could do to ensure Australia did not experience a shortfall in life-saving equipment.
There were a number of groups looking to build ventilators in Australia, but Grey Innovation had conceived the most practical and achievable solution. Knowing that it would be impossible to certify a new design in the highly compressed timeframe, Grey Innovation elected to source an existing listed ventilator design and license it for manufacture in Australia. We would do it by forming a consortium of expert industry partners and garnering critical support from government. The Victorian government was quick to respond providing $500k (plus $250 to Deloitte and Minter Ellison) to fund the feasibility phase to be matched by the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC). After several nights speaking to global manufacturers into the wee hours, and guidewds by pre-eminent physicians, Grey Innovation finally landed on the UK built Smiths Medical paraPAC ventilator. It was the perfect solution and upon successful negotiation of a license to manufacture in Australia, NOTUS, named after the Greek God of Southern Wind, was born.
On 9 April 2020, the Hon Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology announced the federal government had entered into a $31.3M contract with Grey Innovation to produce 2,000 ventilators to help boost the national stockpile.
“This is another great example of Australian industry and the private sector working with our Government to ensure critical supply of medical equipment during the outbreak of this virus,” Minister Andrews said. “This deal demonstrates the power of bringing Aussie manufacturers and clinicians together and is also a reflection of the highly advanced manufacturing capability that exists in our country. It also shows the incredible collaborative spirit that’s been on display as we respond to this unprecedented pandemic. Companies which are normally in competition are working together for the greater good.”
The consortium partners of over thirty companies worked tirelessly, often 7 days a week, to meet the project milestones. We delivered over 800 documents to the TGA who conducted 3 onsite audits and on 1 August 2020, the Australian government announced the first NOTUS emergency ventilators had been delivered to the Department of Health. It's an extraordinary achievement to have delivered a Class IIb medical device along with 60 test boxes in under 4 months. It is made all the more gratifying by the fact that over 350 jobs were either retained or created across the project.
Grey Innovation thanks the governments of Australia and Victoria, and AMGC for their support and its partners for their professionalism and willingness to go that extra mile to ensure everyone in Australia who may need a life saving ventilator will get one.
Key Suppliers: ANCA CNC Machines, Bosch, Braemac, Brandwood CKC, Circuitwise, Dolphin, Fairmont Medical, Hosico Engineering, Hydrix, Marand, Markerry Industries, Medmont International, MOR Industries, Mo Milling, Planet Innovation, Romar Engineering, Shotton Group, Smiths Medical, Stug Australia, Swinburne University of Technology.
Support Partners: Abbe Corrugated, Australian Calibrating Services, Brand Services, BOC, Depth Logistics, EMC Technologies, Esco Industries, Gascon Systems, Hydraulic Seals, Jehbco Silicone Specialists, Kenelec Scientific, Laedarl, Luna Nameplate Industries, National Industries, Novaline, Sutton Tools