Sagentia Ventilator project update

14 May, 2020

In recent weeks Sagentia has been ensuring our ‘usual business’ projects remain on track through the adjustment to lockdown working environments, whilst also working to develop a new ventilator design suitable for rapid manufacture, in direct response to the UK Government’s “Ventilator Challenge”.

Since mid-March the UK Government deliberately pursued a three-pillar approach to securing more ventilators:

• Procuring more devices from existing manufacturers overseas

• Scaling up production of existing ventilator suppliers

• Working with industry to design and manufacture new devices

Throughout this process Sagentia has understood the importance of this third “new product development” pillar. Our team has developed a largely mechanical ventilator, which is software-free, using a majority of custom-fabricated parts to avoid the potential for supply chain conflict around critical components. The design therefore lends itself readily to being manufactured and assembled globally.

At the weekend the government announced that, much to everyone’s relief, the NHS has not been overwhelmed in the manner that was first feared, therefore the manufacture of the Sagentia Ventilator, and the 4 other ventilator designs that also got through to the final stage, is not required in the UK at present.

All the team at Sagentia are extremely proud of what has been achieved in the most spectacularly tight timescale. In just 7 weeks we have designed and fully documented a functional ICU ventilator, we have set up an ISO 13485-compliant assembly facility at our Cambridge, UK headquarters and established the necessary processes to support the assembly of >1,000 Sagentia Ventilator units per week. The Sagentia team has drawn on its experience of rapid medical product development and then sprinted faster than ever before to achieve what would have previously been thought impossible. Working 24/7 with a large multidisciplinary team, Sagentia completed a development that would normally take anywhere between 3- 5 years in a matter of weeks. A final design iteration underwent evaluation at an independent, MHRA-designated testing facility in early May and the Sagentia Ventilator was one of a number of designs described by expert clinicians as “clinically viable”.

Chas Kilby, Head of Mechanical Systems & Design, explained, “From the very start of the project our philosophy has been to design a product for which almost every part could be manufactured from raw materials quickly, and which could be assembled using simple tools and minimal training. Our team’s efforts have been immense, and the MD-TEC feedback received is a testament to the scale of what we have accomplished.”

Paul Wilkins, Managing Director of Science Group’s medical division said, “The Ventilator Challenge was initiated to build enough ventilators to meet a ‘credible worst case’. The actions taken across the country and the care provided by our NHS has meant nowhere near that number of ventilators has been required. It’s therefore perfectly appropriate that the UK Government will support development of the Sagentia Ventilator no further.

The commitment and ingenuity demonstrated by our team has been phenomenal. Huge sacrifices have been made by them and their families as they’ve worked tirelessly to bring the Sagentia Ventilator to clinical readiness. I am hugely proud of them and grateful for their efforts. I would also like to acknowledge the similar efforts made by many of our suppliers, working through the night and over weekends to fabricate the various parts we needed, as well as those of several other Cambridge-based consultancies who were working on their own designs in parallel. It has been a huge privilege to work on this project and we are grateful to the UK Government for the opportunity to play our part.”


About Science Group

Science Group is an international science, engineering and technology (“SET”) business providing a range of services to the medical, defence, industrial, food & beverage and consumer sectors, supplemented by a strategic products division where the Group holds leading market positions in associated technology sectors.

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