onvergence Medical Sciences, a Calgary startup, has won a Red Dot Design Award for a device that can allow a single ventilator to be used by up to four patients simultaneously.
Dr. Steven Roy is a critical care doctor, founder of the startup, and invented the device known as the Valence InVent Xtend.
“It’s really exciting to have our hard work recognized on an international stage particularly with such a prestigious award,” said Dr. Roy to CTV.
The main advantage, he said, is that it can rapidly increase the number of people who can use a ventilator and it does not require maintenance -- unlike other ventilators, which couldn’t be used because they required maintenance, even though there was demand for them.
The Valence InVent Xtend also allows each user to have a different, adjustable pressure and can still set off an alarm incase of emergency.
Roy had set out to find a way to fix the ventilator shortage problem that was occurring at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to find a low cost solution to the issue that the medical industry was facing.
He used vacuum parts from a hardware store to start building the initial prototype in his garage.
He then extended the idea to intensive care doctor Paul McBeth, and engineer Dr. Jihyun Lee to further develop the invention and refine the design.
Roy later patented the device and contacted Exergy Solutions, who then created a function 3D printed model of the device.
Roy said they are still looking into lower cost production methods. Ventilators can cost up to $70,000, while the Valence InVent Xtend costs around $50 per patient.
Roy hopes that the recognition from Red Dot will result in the device being an accessible, low-cost solution to help people in developing countries, as well as during future disasters and pandemics.
Roy hopes that acknowledgement from the Red Dot Design Award will allow the device to be accessible to hospitals in developing countries as well, helping in future pandemics and natural disasters.
“We were able to find a solution that provides a really high level of safety to the patients," he said.
The device is currently in pending status with Health Canada for licensing and approval.