Anesthesiologists launch ventilator design challenge to combat COVID-19 pandemic

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | April 06, 2020
Participants will compete to design a ventilator that can be produced to help patients with COVID-19.
With the peak of the virus just weeks away, ventilator production has become a means of survival for hospitals as they struggle to care for the surge of COVID-19 patients flooding through their doors.

The shortage of these devices has led a number of healthcare and non-healthcare-related organizations to readjust their production lines to develop ventilators. Ford, for instance, has joined forces with GE and pledged to produce 50,000 ventilators within 100 days, while General Motors has teamed up with Ventec Life Systems to do the same.

Now, a group of anesthesiologist residents at Massachusetts General Hospital have stepped up to do their part with the launch of the CoVent-19 Challenge, an eight-week hackathon in which participants anywhere can compete to rapidly design deployable, minimum viable ventilators for patients with COVID-19-related ventilator-dependent lung injury.

“We’ve been watching as countries around the world struggle with providing invasive mechanical ventilation to all who need it,” said Dr. Richard Boyer, founder and director of the CoVent-19 Challenge, in a statement. “Despite the important efforts by ventilator manufacturers to ramp up their own production, there’s a need for a solution, particularly for areas where standard mechanical ventilators may be hard to obtain.”

Hosted on, the challenge is open to individuals and teams, with the finalists working directly with Stratasys 3D printing experts and the CoVent-19 Challenge team to convert their designs into prototypes for testing. Stratasys will provide 3D printing consulting and services to the finalists, as well as a total of $10,000 in credits to the top three winners, that can be used for 3D-printed parts from Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

The general entry round will focus on initial designs and run for four weeks. A panel of judges — which includes Stratasys founder and chief innovation officer Scott Crump — will select up to 20 finalists, evaluating designs based on safety, reliability and manufacturability, as well as minimization of cost and complex software and electronics.

The CoVent-19 Challenge team has secured experts in regulatory measures and safety testing to ensure all products meet U.S. and international standards, and is working with private and public sector partners to expedite U.S. government approval for a winning design.

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