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F1 Teamwork, UCL, delivers breathing aid for COVID-19 in less than 100 hours

F1 Teamwork, UCL, delivers breathing aid for COVID-19 in less than 100 hours

Breathing Aid improved and adapted it for mass production in less than 100 hours


The power of focus

University College London engineers worked with clinicians at UCLH and Mercedes Formula One to build a breathing aid that can help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care.

The device, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), delivers oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator.The CPAP device, which was re-engineered from an existing machine in fewer than 100 hours, has been recommended for use by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.


"Normally medical device development would take years but we've done that in days because we went back to a simple existing device and "reverse engineered" it in order to be able to produce them quickly and at scale."
Prof Rebecca Shipley, Director of UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Innovated using what was already in use

Reverse engineering means they took apart an existing off-patent CPAP device, copied and improved the design and adapted it for mass production.

  • CPAP pushes a steady flow of air-oxygen mix into the mouth and nose of patients
  • The lungs remain open, so it increases the amount of oxygen entering them
  • Reducing the effort needed to breathe in, especially if the lungs have collapsed as a result of Covid-19
  • It's less invasive than a ventilator, for which patients have to be heavily sedated with a tube inserted into their airway
  • Following the clinical trials, Mercedes and other F1 teams could produce up to 1,000 of the devices per day

Professor Tim Baker of UCL said a process that can take years had been reduced to a matter of days, explaining that the team had worked "all hours" to disassemble and analyze an existing device before using computer simulations to "create a state-of-the-art version suited to mass production."

The new devices have been delivered to ULCH and to three other London hospitals for testing

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has already given its approval for their use. If the trials go well, up to 1,000 of the CPAP machines can be produced per day by Mercedes-AMG-HPP.


Amazing things happen when you focus on what you can do!

How to focus on your business positively, when all you can think about is will I have a business after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here's three simple steps to get you focused:


Step 1 - What do you need to do?

Just answer this one question, write a list, make it a minimum of 20, so you can't stop until you have at least 20 things on it you need to do within your business. But don't limit yourself to a maximum number - the key is, when you're in the zone and thinking of the different things, just get them down and move on.

Once you have the list, pick the most important thing listed and move to step 2. If you like to be organised, you might be tempted to prioritise the whole list, there are pros and cons to this - I'd rather get on to Step 2, as what happens here may add things to the list created in Step 1, or remove things as your thinking evolves.


Step 2 - How could you possibly do this?

You've picked the 'thing' which you've identified as the most important. Now you need to focus all your thinking on what is possible (do not limit your thinking by listing a couple of things, just like Step 1, get the thoughts down and move on). Keep in the zone, capture all the possibilities. Once you have an extensive list of 'how's' - no matter how far fetched they may be - you can prioritise and filter them.


Step 3 - Who could possibly manage this?

Most business owners think they need to be the driver of ideas in their business, and this will be a self-limiting belief, if you don't involve others. So develop the brief, rework your Step 2 'hows' into questions. See The PM asked for 250k NHS volunteers and over 750k volunteers are recruited in days article.

Here I've related the '3 Steps' process to how the Government could have applied it, to achieve this amazing achievement.


How could you apply this kind of thinking to enhance your business during this crisis?

While it’s natural for stressful events to overwhelm us, especially if your business is one of the many impacted negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also possible to refocus on work, because you will never have another opportunity like this.

The pandemic will certainly end, and we’ll return to a new normal, what will that possibly look like for your business, your customers and employees?

In the meantime, what can you possibly do to use this time productively?

How could you change what you do now to achieve future productivity gains? One thing's for sure, there will never be another time when the world stops for months, so use this time wisely.

Time to re-assess, re-tool, and get ready to reboot!

Now is the time for businesses to map their processes and optimise how things work. Develop and document training plans, maintenance routines and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). Then use any quiet time experienced to upskill your people, products and services to create a tangible positive difference to your proposition.

Steve Megson, founder of Love Business and Managing Director of Quiet Storm Solutions

Author of this COVID-19 Business Support Hub Article

Stephen Megson Founder of Love Business and Business Owner

Steve Megson

I'm a keen sailor and experienced in encountering the unknown at sea. With my son, Josh, I sailed my boat to Spain from my home port of Poole, my greatest adventure to date (if you read the blog you'll understand why!). Encountering the unknown is about having a clear goal and making sure you keep focused - no matter what happens.

More About Quiet Storm


Stephen Megson

A business owner since I was 21 –I was one of the 'enterprise allowance'  generation and started my business back in 1987. I've ridden the waves of a few recessions and overcome plenty of unknowns. I understand the pressure of employing people and the emotional rollercoaster times like this put you through. I've been very fortunate in my career to work with many brilliant visionaries. I've learnt much from them, but for those who know me well, know my quest for learning is never satisfied.

I now specialise in behaviour and business process optimisation, so look at how businesses interact with their people, customers and other stakeholders. I then work collaboratively with businesses to drive out waste and optimise their processes. This is largely through some form of digitisation, resulting in web applications and operational software to manage their systems, processes and KPI's.

I'm passionate about business and have a strong sense of community, which is why I started Love Business back in 2012, as I saw the innovative business owners start to thrive whilst other remain in a cycle of self-fulfilling doom as a result of the media channels negative news coverage. This is why Love Business only covers good news, focusses on the positive and looks to share all that's helpful.


How to get in touch with Steve Megson




COVID-19 Business Support Hub

These are challenging times for business and although our ethos is to only shout about good news, we've created COVID-19 Business Support Hub on the Love Business the website to support you with expert tips, advice and ideas from your fellow businesses to help you get through this COVID-19 crisis. 

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