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Africa Prize: Loughborough student named One to Watch for low-cost ventilator design

Engineering student Yusuf Bilesanmi has won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation's One to Watch award for his low-cost ventilator, ShiVent.

Loughborough PhD student Yusuf Bilesanmi has been named One to Watch in the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

The PhD researcher was one of 12 innovators who pitched their ideas to a live online audience who voted for the design which showed the most promise and potential for impact.

He received a £5,000 prize from the Royal Academy of Engineering which organises the competition.

The non-electric ShiVent system was created to allow non-specialised workers to treat patients with coronavirus.

The team - Yusuf Bilesanmi, Ricardo Nascimento, Dr Yusuf Shittu, Gaurav Nanajkar and Pawel Nycz - designed the ventilator with four key features:

  • Simple to use – by the average health workers and takes only 30 minutes of training
  • Low-Cost – can be produced at a very small fraction of the price of the average ventilator
  • Non-Electric – making it suitable for hospital settings with unreliable power
  • Oxygen-Efficient – requiring almost as little as a third of the average oxygen consumption of High Flow Oxygen systems

ShiVent has been tested at Loughborough’s National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) and the Leicester Royal Infirmary Hospital.

It has also had a preliminary clinical functionality test at Glenfield Hospital.

Speaking about the award, Yusuf (pictured left) said: “I was dumbfounded and super elated. I couldn’t believe we had won.

“It makes all the difference in the work we have done, the support we have received from the Loughborough community.”

The system works by connecting hospital patients to an existing oxygen source and blends air with the high-flow oxygen supply.

The patient inhales oxygen to fill up the lungs and then exhales into a water column creating back end pressure that keeps their airway open.

It is based on the principles of bubble continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) - a non-invasive ventilator used for new-born babies developed by Dr Yusuf Shittu, of the Nuffield Hospital in Leicester – a co-founder of the ShiVent system.

The other co-founders are Gaurav Nanajkar, Pawel Nycz and Ricardo Nascimento – all from Loughborough University.

Read more about ShiVent...


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/141

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.