VICTORIA – StarFish Medical has been summoned to help in the fight to defeat COVID-19.

StarFish Medical, the country’s largest medical device design, development and contract manufacturing company, is leading the first phase of a project to create a new version of a ventilator made years ago by Winnipeg-based Cerebra that was used in the 2003 SARS crisis.

The Manitoba digital health firm has been chosen by Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster (NGen), the organization coordinating Canada’s medical equipment supply during the Coronavirus pandemic, according to Global News Winnipeg. Earl Gardiner, Cerebra executive chair, told 680 CJOB Radio that the federal government is looking for as many as 30,000 units.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in a March 31 press conference that Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry is increasing the country’s ability to respond to the outbreak with necessary medical equipment and supplies. That followed a call-out on March 20 for Canadian businesses and manufacturers to help deliver critical health supplies.

Since then, the government has spoken directly with nearly 3,000 Canadian companies that have offered their expertise and capacity to meet the need for personal protective equipment and health supplies. Ottawa has committed $2 billion to support diagnostic testing and purchase ventilators and protective personal equipment, including items like masks, face shields, gowns and hand sanitizer.

StarFish Medical was the only BC-based company to be identified as a provider and solution finder in the race for supplies, with the majority of firms being based in Central and Eastern Canada.

The Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster has been granted $50 million to develop and scale-up new, in-demand technologies, equipment, and medical products. This includes technologies and products to test and treat Canadians, such as novel virus detection tests, vaccines, therapeutics, and symptom management treatments. It also includes medical equipment to care for Canadians, such as ventilators, peripherals, personal protective equipment, and cleaning and sterilization chemicals and equipment.

John Walmsley, Executive Vice-President of StarFish Medical, told the Victoria Times-Colonist “We are working as hard as we can to make (ventilators) as soon as we possibly can. There’s a lot of collaboration across the country to get it done as quickly as possible.”

StarFish offers a full complement of design, development, and manufacturing services in Victoria and Toronto. The award winning firm partners with innovative companies of all sizes to create breakthrough products for a number of medical specialty areas.

Medical device product definition, technical engineering and product development use StarFish’ proprietary Pathfinder™ process. Prototype and volume production are delivered in an ISO 13485 certified facility with FDA registration and class 10,000 clean room capabilities.

A message on the company’s website states: “Our work with clients on ground breaking medical device and bio services projects continues with minimal disruption. We follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations and standards of personal care and hygiene to minimize potential exposure. Measures include limiting all non-essential travel, working from home where possible, and implementing COVID-19 appropriate hygiene practices.

“We encourage everyone to join us in helping prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health of all people. StarFish is designed to work efficiently as a virtual team. 90 per cent of our clients are located 100 plus miles from our offices.”

StarFish Medical is at 455 Boleskine Road in Victoria.

www.starfishmedical.com