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June 3, 2020

CT manufacturer among eight picked to make NASA Covid-19 ventilator 

PHOTO | Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California prepare to ship a prototype ventilator for coronavirus patients to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally) is designed to be faster to build and easier to maintain than traditional ventilators, with a fraction of the parts. JPL engineers created the prototype specially targeted at COVID-19 patients in 37 days in March and April 2020.

A Watertown company is among eight nationwide chosen by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to make its newly designed ventilators for patients ill with coronavirus.

Evo Design LLC of Watertown was the sole Connecticut company picked from more than 100 applications

“We are proud to announce that the product development team led by Evo Design was granted one of a limited number of licenses to commercialize and manufacture the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Vital Ventilator,” Evo Design said on its website.

The company’s teams in Connecticut, and in Ohio and China will partner with Bio-Med Devices Inc. of Guilford to “bring this innovative and affordable lifesaving technology to organizations in need,” the company added.

The other seven companies include Vacumed and Pro-Dex Inc. of California, Stark Industries of Ohio, MVent of Minnesota, iButtonLink, LLC of Wisconsin and DesignPlex Biomedical LLC and ATRON Group LLC, both of Texas.

In response to the pandemic, which to date has claimed some 108,000 American lives, engineers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) worked to design a prototype ventilator in just 37 days. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration gave it an emergency use authorization on April 30.

The newly designed ventilator is dubbed VITAL, which stands for Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally.

Developed with input from physicians and medical-device manufacturers, it uses one-seventh the number of components of a traditional ventilator and relies on parts already available in supply chains. According to NASA, it offers a simpler and more affordable option to treat most patients, allowing physicians to use traditional ventilators on those with the most severe symptoms. VITAL is designed to be set up quickly and easily. The technology can also be modified for use in field hospitals.

A front-facing portrait of VITAL. PHOTO | Courtesy NASA\ JPL - Caltech

The Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships at the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, which owns the patents and software for VITAL, is offering a free license for the device. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Leon Alkalai, manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Partnerships and a member of the VITAL leadership team, said the team is excited to see the technology licensed.

"Our hope is to have this technology reach across the world and provide an additional source of solutions to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis." Alkalai said in an announcement.

The JPL is also evaluating manufacturers from around the world for participation.

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at

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