STC collaboration’s innovative ‘Oxford Box’ design wins NHS trust’s approval

Silverstone Technology Cluster

17th June 2020

A new type of aerosol shield – designed by businesses in the Silverstone Technology Cluster (STC) network – to improve the treatment of COVID-19 patients and safety of clinical staff has been approved for use at a leading NHS trust.

The innovative ‘Oxford Box’ has been overseen by a collaboration including STC Ambassador Dr Cristiana Pace’s Enovation Consultancy Ltd business, motorsport engineering company and STC member One Group Engineering, and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust (OUH).

The Renault DP World F1 Team, with its highly advanced understanding of CFD (computational fluid dynamics), and the OxSTaR (Oxford Simulation, Teaching & Research) centre have also played significant roles.

The Oxford Box is designed to keep frontline staff safe during the process of ‘intubation’ and ‘ex-tubation’.

Weighing just 7kg, its light, flatpack construction enables the device to be stored away easily, sterilised more effectively and swiftly re-allocated in emergency situations.

After extensive trials at OxSTaR and the training of key clinical staff, OUH approved the use of the Oxford Box across its four hospitals: the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury. 

Cristiana Pace commented: “The STC network, and Silverstone Park, is a great source of expertise especially during the pandemic, when many of its members looked at ways to reconvert their businesses to help with challenges generated by COVID-19.

“The problem solving skills and agility of our industry, combined with the clinical knowledge and expertise of Oxford University Hospitals, resulted in a cost effective state-of-the-art solution, able to keep safe clinicians during their invaluable day to day work. One Group Engineering and Renault DP World F1 Team were both instrumental in achieving this result in such a short frame of time…

“As well as looking at the ergonomics and conceptual design, we are planning on assessing and reducing the carbon footprints of this product, underlining our responsibility to transition to circular economy.”

One Group founder Ron Hartvelt explained: “Most of our work has previously been automotive and motorsport, so it’s been fantastic engaging with OUH and OxSTaR to develop the Oxford Box medical device.

“In terms of understanding the challenges, design innovation and prototype delivery, I believe this project demonstrates just how powerful the motorsport approach can be.

“It’s been an exciting and rewarding project and medical is certainly a sector that we would like to continue to apply our skills to.”

Bianca Tingle, a Consultant Anaesthetist at OUH, has been involved in the development of the new device. She said: “We believe the Oxford Box is the best aerosol shield available. We predict it will be used beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is unique because it is completely collapsible, easy to stow away – space is a precious commodity in hospitals – and is much easier to clean than other similar devices being developed, which helps enormously with infection control. These were the key features we were looking for.

“It adds a vital layer of protection for clinical staff. Removal of PPE (‘doffing’) is the riskiest moment for us, but keeping aerosols inside the Oxford Box greatly reduces contamination of us and the surrounding area. This is turn reduces delays between procedures in remote areas as we are not waiting for aerosols to settle.”

And added Paul Cusdin, Renault DP World F1 Team’s Head of CFD: “We modelled the speed, direction and air flow as we would in F1 and were thus able to advise the best placement, size and shape of the box to take its protection level to near 100% for the treating medic.

“The models were complex to establish but, by applying the principles we would do in developing a car, we were able to improve its protection and condense development from months to weeks.

“F1 is once again proving its capacity to apply its thinking, technology and processes in speeding up the help we can give to those in genuine need. I hope this will be yet another tool in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”


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