Innovation & Enterprise


Experts and guests discuss lifesaving breathing aid in latest REF 2021 podcast

2 June 2022

UCL Professors Mervyn Singer and Becky Shipley explain how they created a mechanical breathing machine to support COVID patients in just a month.

Two hands in blue plastic gloves, holding the UCL-Ventura breathing aid

The REF podcast series 'Where research transforms lives' takes a deep dive into the UCL research that has changed the world around us. Each week hosts explore a different area of study, highlighting the breadth and depth of the work being done at UCL.

This week’s episode explores how researchers at UCL created the UCL-Ventura, a life-saving device made freely available to treat COVID-19 patients around the world.

The guests in this episode are:

  • Mervyn Singer, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine, UCL
  • Becky Shipley, Professor of Health Care Engineering, UCL
  • Dr Neil McGuire, former Director of Medical Devices, MHRA
  • Hiten “Rup” Ruparelia, COVID hospital patient who used UCL-Ventura CPAP

Mervyn and Becky created the UCL-Ventura, a cheap, simple breathing machine that helped save the lives of thousands of COVID patients.

In this podcast, these guests discuss:

  • devising the idea for the UCL-Ventura breathing aid and moving from idea to approved prototype in less than a month
  • the patient experience of using the UCL-Ventura to treat COVID-19 symptoms
  • releasing the UCL-Ventura blueprints, designs, and manufacturing instructions for free so anyone could download them and manufacture the devices locally

UCL Business (UCLB), the commercialisation arm of UCL and part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise, arranged the necessary licensing to make the designs available for manufacturers around the world. Licences were managed through a bespoke implementation of e-lucid, an online technology licensing platform developed and hosted by UCLB.

Within two days of the designs being made available, nearly 700 requests to license the files had been approved by UCL.

Listen to the full podcast on the UCL Minds SoundCloud site.


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Photo © James Tye / UCL