Vancouver’s BarrelWise develops and manufactures a barrel management system that helps winemakers protect and enhance the quality of their wines by mitigating the risks of contamination in the barrel-aging process.
Today they announced that they have received funding from Genome BC’s Rapid Response Funding for COVID-19 research and innovation projects. But not because winemaking is an essential service.
Currently part of entrepreneurship@UBC’s Hatch Accelerator program, BarrelWise is pivoting their equipment and services to design, manufacture and test a solution to extend B.C.’s supply of life-saving filtering face piece respirator (FFR) masks.
The Genome BC funding covers an initial development phase for the production of a decontamination oven for disinfecting FFR masks that are essential for front-line healthcare workers and their patients.
BarrelWise will be developing a decontamination method that uses dry and humid heat to sterilize masks, as heat based methods offer a distinct set of advantages including the fact they do not require specialty components with competitive supply-chain limitations and can be manufactured imminently and locally.
With access to laboratories housing necessary equipment, as well as the technical expertise, BarrelWise intends to bring their manufacturing to market in the next four to five weeks. The quick deployment of design, validation and health authority approval will mean that a safe and reliable sanitation option can be made available in less than one month from production should the kind of extended personal protection equipment (PPE) demand spike and supply shortages that have been observed in the US, China, and Europe, occur in B.C.
“While the exact needs of individual health authorities over the coming weeks and months are challenging to forecast, the global nature of this pandemic has put tremendous strain on supply chains of medical supplies and created a highly competitive landscape for acquiring essential components” stated Jason Sparrow, CEO of BarrelWise. “It is because of these factors, we are now heavily focused on a rapid and lean development of a robust and research-backed technology solution”, he adds.
The BarrelWise FFR mask decontamination project is being led by the company’s Chief Technology Officer, David Sommer, the BarrelWise team and several other UBC medical and engineering experts.