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DEX Innovation Centre: How does EIT Health Hub help others fight against COVID-19 pandemic?

28th April 2020

Interview with DEX Innovation Centre - InnoStars Talks

Interview with DEX Innovation Centre - InnoStars Talks

InnoStars Talks is a series of interviews with healthcare innovators. They present inspiring stories of people involved in the EIT Health Community. Meet Stefan Iarca, CEO at XVision, who tells us how his start-up is changing modern radiology.

Why did the DEX Innovation Centre decide to engage in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic?

We are a private innovation centre, we are a social enterprise. Our mission is to improve society through research and impactful digital innovation. Moreover, being part of the EIT Health Network and finding ourselves in the current situation in the fight against COVID-19, we feel it now more than ever that it is our top responsibility to be actively engaged in the fight and to support the ecosystem. In the Czech Republic, we are supporting the ecosystem in 2 ways:

1) Collectively – through an already developed infrastructure in DEXIC μFabLab, which is equipped with various 3D printers, from desktop to industrial ones. We can (proudly) mention that we have been part of one of the biggest nation-wide initiatives in the fight with COVID-19 in the Czech Republic. The aim of the initiative was to print the missing components for the “Decathlon snorkelling masks” connecting with the filter which serve as a protection for the health personnel in on the front line of the fight. Only our region (Liberec region) has provided around 4,000 3D prints.

2) Our own initiative – taking action via the actual project of the Emergency Lung ventilator which is now still under development and in a testing phase.

How is the open-source lung ventilator manufactured and how does it work?

According to MIT, there is a shortage of 300, 000 to 700, 000 units in the US. In developing countries, the number will be even higher. Our goal is to provide a solution that will be very cheap, easy to assemble, that would use locally available components and still provide safety to the users at the same time. The full design will make it possible to use the ventilator as a last resort – when there is no other way of helping the patient. There are many designs, e.g. the ones developed by MIT and other institutions.

However, these designs need special parts that might be difficult to get on a larger scale in case of epidemic outbreaks. Therefore, our focus is to utilize the components which are largely available in almost every ecosystem worldwide. Our focus has turned towards the cheap desktop FFM 3D-printers, which are widely available and used around the world. As a result, we aim to provide a design of a ventilator built from at least 85% of the components available inside these 3D printers. It’s a non-profit activity and we do not aim to market this as a product. We are now proud to say that we have achieved significant breakthroughs.

How do Czech start-ups support fighting back the coronavirus?

There are more than 15 projects and initiatives from Czechia. InoCure (EIT Health accelerted start-up) switched to manufacturing highly effective nanofibrous face masks. They currently manufacture about 1600 masks per day! These masks are then transported to hospitals and other facilities in need. They are currently looking for an investor ready to invest in the face masks production lines.

EIT Health Community is at the forefront of healthcare innovation, and we are all intensively working towards solutions for COVID-19 pandemic. Our matchmaking platform brings together all healthcare innovators, it gives an opportunity to cooperate in this fight, share knowledge, and ask for support. What does this initiative mean for you, as for the EIT Health Hub?

EIT Health plays a crucial role in the current fight with COVID-19 and therefore we as the EIT Health Hub in the Czech Republic strongly supports and promotes these EIT Health initiatives among our stakeholders. At the same time, we consider it beneficial for the current situation and (virtual) matchmaking within the EU and it provides mutual support.

If you could choose your top five solutions that would win with coronavirus, what would they be?

Vaccination, treatment (even partial), emergency ventilation solutions, smart quarantine, and being rational as the whole society. Not underestimating the situation and being responsible. At the same time, not damaging the society and economy by unreasonable restrictions. Being smart and using modern technologies as we do not live in the 17th or even 20th century.  We will, most probably, live with the virus for some time, so we should learn how to live, not just survive.

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