Bristol-based Indus Fusion is developing an automated vaccine preparation device for NHS Covid-19 vaccine clinics, with early trials indicating a 40% increase in roll-out capacity.
The Vaccine Preparation System (VPS) is designed to work in an aseptic environment, enabling multiple syringes to extract doses from vials automatically.
The technology improves the yield from each vaccine vial and frees up time for highly trained staff, allowing them to focus on administering injections and carrying out their primary care functions.
Indus Fusion developed a working prototype of its VPS within 100 days of consulting doctors on efficiency issues at vaccine clinics.
Dr Michael Pambos MA, MBBS, MRCGP, Accountable Officer of the NHS Covid Vaccination Program, Sutton, says: “Working with Indus Fusion has been nothing short of outstanding.
“As we faced a global pandemic and the unfathomable task of vaccinating the world, we had to look at new innovative ways of doing things. Indus Fusion accepted our challenge, ‘How can we automate a thus far unautomatable task?’, and made it a reality.
“It has been a joy to work with the group of highly skilled engineers to see a prototype, develop it, refine it and, within a short timeframe, see a solution.”
Indus Fusion has now started to work with partners in South Korea to take the system to market.
The VPS project was supported by Innovate UK EDGE MedTech specialist, Patrick Finnemore, who provided introductions to key industry figures and advice on the company’s growth trajectory.
“The introductions from Innovate UK EDGE have played an important role,” says Arthur Keeling, Co-Founder, Indus Fusion, “they’ve also been able to help upskill the team in areas such as IP.”
“As a start-up, you never know when you’re going to hit a new challenge and it’s very reassuring to have Innovate UK EDGE on hand, ready to provide specialist support in a wide variety of fields.”
Indus Fusion was founded in January 2020 to embrace the new industrial age, going beyond Industry 4.0. The software company delivers an event-driven automation ecosystem to control multiple resources like digital data, AI, and IoT to impact real-world assets, customers, and staff.
The company has developed a unique infrastructure to provide organisations the tools to drive connected digital, mobile, and physical assets. Their system aims to drive productivity, help upskill the workforce, and to ensure products, services and organisations are ready for tomorrow’s economy.
In June 2020, the company secured a £75,000 grant from Innovate UK to work with NHS pathology labs to help automate their ‘goods-in’ systems, specifically to help commercialise the technology.
NHS England pathology labs perform 300,000 tests every working day, analysing patient samples, diagnosing conditions, and providing doctors with critical information. This equates to 14 tests for every person in England and Wales every year.
Indus Fusion is working closely with the NHS England Transformation Teams for Pathology and a multinational pharmaceutical company to solve the problem of the preparation of samples for analysis.
Every sample needs to be individually removed, and checked, from its delivery packaging by hand. This is a highly labour intensive, tedious task, where operatives are at risk from occupational injuries such as Repetitive Strain Injuries. Indus Fusion is developing a solution to automatically extract and check the samples before loading them into the test machine.
The appeal of this technology, deployed specifically within pathology labs, can benefit labs throughout the world. Early discussions are already underway for how this might help developing nations.
“We founded Indus Fusion to bring together multiple technologies that have to work together if automation is to become more accessible for all companies. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this project has provided a chance to test these ideas with the support from Innovate UK,” says Arthur.
During the pandemic, their team of software technologists and engineers were forced to work from home. They continued to work on their ambitious ideas with help & support, flexible hours, and armed with robot arms and 3D printers installed in their homes.
Innovate UK EDGE will continue to support this Bristol-based business, as it works to help maximise the efficiency of NHS services and start to take its technologies global. This helps support the wider Digital First agenda for the NHS.