Gekko working on ventilators

MINERAL processing equipment maker Gekko Systems has received a Victorian government grant to co-fund the development of its ventilator prototype the Geventor.
Gekko working on ventilators Gekko working on ventilators Gekko working on ventilators Gekko working on ventilators Gekko working on ventilators

Sandy Gray in his home workshop.

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The Victorian government intends to order 2000 locally made ventilators to bolster it hospitals' capabilities to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

It expects the first Victorian-made machines will be available in June.

Victorian hospitals have about 1000 ventilators at the moment.

While the bulk of the government support is going to Richmond-based Grey Innovations, which has secured a licence from a leading global manufacturer, it is also backing companies such as Gekko Systems.

Victorian minister for jobs, innovation and trade Martin Pakula said the machines would help Victoria's hospitals respond to coronavirus cases and help save Victorian and Australian lives.

"We're moving to fast-track the local production of ventilators so that hospitals and healthcare workers can continue their extraordinary efforts in caring for those of us who need it most," he said.

The Geventor is a collaborative project with the Committee for Ballarat playing a role in bringing regional and national skills and capabilities together.

The ventilator design program was led by Gekko Systems technical director Sandy Gray and heavily supported by specialist anaesthetist Doug Paxton has progressed to a Mark 3 prototype.

Other collaborators include local health research group, BIRCH and accelerator Runway Ballarat. 

Gray said they had established and fast-tracked a highly skilled project team that had started to accelerate the work program to achieve the appropriate product testing, supply plans and Therapeutic Goods Administration approvals needed to bring the product safely to market.

"COVID-19 won't be taking a break over Easter and neither will our team," he said.

"They are passionate and committed to achieving the best result we can in the short period of time we have available."

The Victorian government co-funding will support the Geventor through to manufacturing readiness, assuming final TGA approvals are gained.

Given social distancing requirements, Gray used the skills of his engineering and procurement teams online and the equipment bench at home for preliminary prototyping.