Among the Chaos of COVID, Company Finds Business and Humanitarian Success

21.03.24 08:06 PM By Jennie Hempstead

In the face of a global crisis, innovation and collaboration have proven to be our greatest assets. Nowhere is this more evident than in the success story of the Vulcan Ventilator Project, a remarkable initiative born out of necessity and driven by the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 28, 2020 a pivotal moment occurred with the formation of the COVID-19 Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF). Just days later, on April 2, Vulcan V was given the green light to proceed with evaluating, testing, and prototyping the top five design solutions for ventilators. This rapid response was crucial, as lives hung in the balance and the need for ventilators surged worldwide. (Read more from the 2021 article.)

Wright Brothers Institute (WBI) joined the effort to make those design solutions a reality. Working in collaboration to shatter bureaucratic barriers and streamline processes, WBI and dozens of partners were able to propel prototypes swiftly through design and submit the request for FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval in just over a month. This feat exemplifies the power of decisive action and effective collaboration in times of crisis.

The teams involved in this groundbreaking effort represented a diverse range of expertise, from defense contractors like Northrup Grumman Corporation and L3Harris Technologies to innovative small businesses such as BLU3 and Coridea, alongside government labs like the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Panama City. Together, they brought forth cutting-edge designs that held the promise of saving countless lives.

These designs underwent rigorous evaluation and usability testing at esteemed institutions like the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Facility. Meanwhile, entities like the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) and the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office provided crucial support in production management and developmental leadership, respectively.

What truly sets the Vulcan Ventilator Program apart is its spirit of collaboration and shared purpose. Government agencies, designers, testing professionals, and acquisition experts came together in a virtual environment, pooling their resources and expertise to turn innovative concepts into tangible solutions.

One of the standout success stories from this program is CorVent Medical, whose ventilator design was among the selected few to receive FDA EUA waivers. Since its inception in 2020, CorVent Medical has achieved remarkable milestones, including raising $4.5 million in seed funding, forging distribution partnerships with industry giants like Siemens, obtaining CE Mark approval for European use, and establishing strategic partnerships with organizations like Concordance Healthcare Solutions LLC.

Those EAUs have made an impact amidst another, international crisis. At the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, CorVent ventilators were dispatched to over a thousand hospitals destroyed or heavily damaged, addressing the need for critical medical equipment. CorVent Medical's swift response underscores their commitment to saving lives wherever the need arises. This act of solidarity exemplifies the spirit of compassion and global cooperation in times of adversity, reminding us that even in the face of immense challenges, humanity prevails through unity and support.

The Vulcan Ventilator Program serves as a beacon of hope and a testament to what can be achieved when ingenuity meets collaboration. In the face of adversity, it reminds us that innovation knows no bounds and that together, we can overcome even the greatest challenges. As we navigate the ongoing battle against COVID-19 and future crises, let us draw inspiration from initiatives like this and continue to harness the power of innovation and collaboration for the greater good.

Jennie Hempstead