The emergency mechanical ventilators were developed in Chile by state-owned shipbuilding company Asmar and the Universidad de Concepción, and by Famae, Enaer and DTS (all state-owned companies operated by Chile’s armed forces) – using the Neyün model. They are the first to have successfully completed all of the technical validation stages set by the “Un Respiro para Chile” (A breather for Chile) initiative, which has promoted the local development of equipment to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic through a network of experts and technical collaboration.
The two ventilators were introduced this afternoon at the Defense Ministry by Defense Minister Alberto Espina, Health Minister Enrique Paris and Science Minister Andrés Couve, who recognized and welcomed the collaborative work that made it possible for these prototypes to be developed in just two months.
Minister Espina noted that, “when the armed forces began this project, they approached the Defense Ministry via their companies and told us they intended to meet this challenge. Famae, Enaer and DTS told us that they would be working with the support of physicians from Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica. Asmar indicated that they would be working in association with Universidad de Concepción. We told them to go ahead in a responsible manner and so we were able to do something unprecedented for our country. This technological development means that thanks to teamwork we now have two prototypes for mechanical ventilators made in Chile.”
With respect to coordinating the “Un Respiro para Chile” platform, Minister Couve highlighted that “what we are seeing is hard work culminating in a successful outcome that will strengthen our health system and that we can also contribute to Latin America. This is the result of a process of innovation that Chile has been laying the groundwork for over many years, and that had to be put into practice in a short period of time. So we have taken a path and forged links that did not previously exist. Companies associated with the armed forces, universities, scientific societies and the private sector have created a community that worked towards a shared goal, based on trust. This is now installed capacity in Chile.”
“We Chileans are entering a new phase of innovation, scientific research and producing devices that are essential for sustaining life. Having mechanical ventilators (made in Chile) that can save the lives of our patients is an unprecedented development for the country and I want to express my thanks for the collaborative work undertaken to achieve this public-private goal of advancing science, research and medicine,” said Minister Paris in regard to this initiative.
The two ventilators showcased by officials have already successfully passed the validation process outlined in the protocol established by SOCHIMI (the Chilean Society of Intensive Care Medicine) in conjunction with the Chilean Society of Anesthesiology (SACH), the Chilean Society of Emergency Medicine (SOCHIMU) and the Multidisciplinary Committee to Facilitate the Management of the COVID-19 Crisis.
The local development and validation process for these prototypes was possible due to coordination between the Science and Health Ministries, the Economy Ministry and Corfo (Chile’s Economic Development Agency), as well as support from the private sector via the SiEmpre Technology Adoption Platform and the Sofofa Hub (Chilean Federation of Industry Hub). In terms of academia, the Universidad de Valparaíso, Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile played a vital role by contributing the use of their facilities during each stage of the validation process.
In order to move forward with the process of manufacture and scaling up, these projects have received support from Fondo SiEmpre and Corfo, which will contribute to the development of both types of ventilator. The ventilator developed by Asmar and the Universidad de Concepción has received additional support from Chilean subsidiaries of the ISA group.
Regarding the financing provided during this stage, Corfo Executive Vice-President Pablo Terrazas explained that “Corfo, very early on, launched this competition to incentivize the local production of mechanical ventilators in response to the health emergency we are experiencing, thereby also promoting Chilean innovation and entrepreneurship. We have successfully created a joint public-private effort that has been key to addressing this crisis. And now we will finance the scale-up of these initiatives, demonstrating that we can provide high-level solutions from Chile.”