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Consumer electronics company Belkin has collaborated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering for the design of the FlexVent gas-operated ventilator in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The emergency ventilator is based on the Illinois RapidVent concept published by the University of Illinois in March. Belkin obtained a licence for the design from the university.

FlexVent is a single-use ventilator, which offers constant-flow, pressure-cycled automatic ventilation to patients in respiratory distress.

Belkin founder and CEO Chet Pipkin said: “This is one of the most urgent humanitarian crises we have experienced in our lifetimes and the number one responsibility for each of us in this moment is the care and compassion for others in need.

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“Our merger with Foxconn Interconnect Technology (FIT) in 2018 gave us access to the most powerful and capable manufacturing assets in the world and its long-term strategy to create new end markets in automotive, industrial and medical systems industries. We had to take action now where we could.

“With a global pandemic underway, we quickly realigned our assets to serve the healthcare community and we were able to adapt to identify one of the most pressing needs facing the healthcare community – ventilators.”

The company noted that team members from the University of Illinois and healthcare system Carle Health offered feedback regarding product design, manufacturability and training for physicians.

They also offered insights on potential clinical scenarios where the FlexVent may be needed to help Covid-19 patients when other Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared or approved conventional / standard full-featured ventilators are unavailable.

FlexVent is currently being considered by the FDA for potential emergency use authorisation (EUA).