“This project will go down as a case study in how industry and government can collaborate to ensure delivery of a challenging project in what would normally be an impossible timeframe. The government response and support has been simply phenomenal.”
– Jefferson Harcourt, Executive Chairman Grey Innovation
The closure of domestic and international borders during the global COVID-19 pandemic constrained essential supply lines and the movement of people and freight. Businesses had to navigate complex and time consuming regulatory processes within severely compressed timeframes to deliver essential services and critical products.
The department played a pivotal role in helping Australian industry overcome these challenges.
In response to the global undersupply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential equipment for hospital Intensive Care Units such as ventilators, the Australian Government turned to the Australian manufacturing sector for a solution. Many companies offered to assist with the manufacturing of essential products by adapting their capabilities and skillsets to novel uses, and pivot from their traditional business focuses.
The Grey Innovation-led consortium comprising more than 30 Australian engineering and manufacturing companies and leading clinicians, worked on the production of certified medical ventilators under a major contract to supply the National Medical Stockpile. The consortium is a shining example of the spirit of collaboration and resilience shown through the pandemic crisis.
Grey Innovation had the intellectual property and licensing arrangements for a globally recognised ventilator, a version of which was already approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The consortium had the capacity to manufacture Notus ventilators locally, commencing immediately. Grey Innovation was able to employ an additional 26 engineers and has created or retained another 350 jobs across the supply chain.
The department and other government agencies proved to be essential partners in enabling this outcome. The department supported the consortium by working across government and industry to help streamline processes, make connections, coordinate stakeholders, facilitate access and manage impacts. This included engaging with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade when there were significant concerns about the timely delivery of critical components from the United Kingdom. The department further supported the consortium by working with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to ensure the certification requirements for the Notus ventilator were met within tight timeframes.
Grey Innovation Executive Chairman Jefferson Harcourt said, ‘I thank the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources for its strong support, leadership, professionalism and agility over the last three months. We have been managing 30 suppliers, logistics, and the regulator. It’s a huge task that could not be achieved without the department’s support to engage with, and help streamline, the various service providers we need to meet our commitment’.
This example highlights how effectively businesses and the department have been working together to ensure the delivery of essential services and equipment for Australians during the pandemic. Working collaboratively the public and private sectors achieved an outstanding result that neither would have been able to achieve alone.