EU Commission will provide 200 disinfection robots to European hospitals in the coming weeks, to fight pandemic. As part of its continued efforts to tackle the spread of coronavirus and provide Member States with necessary equipment, the Commission launched the purchase of 200 disinfection robots that will be delivered to hospitals across Europe. Overall, a dedicated budget of up to €12 million is available from the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI).
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said: “Developing technologies can set up forces of change and we see a good example of this in the disinfection robots. I welcome this action to help our hospitals in Europe reduce the risk of infection – an important step in containing the spread of coronavirus.”
UVC radiation kills 99% COVID19
Given the current outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, hospitals are interested in purchasing ultraviolet-C (UVC) lamps to disinfect surfaces. UVC radiation is a known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces. UVC radiation has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria, such as tuberculosis. For this reason, UVC lamps are often called “germicidal” lamps.
UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of the SARS-Coronavirus, which is a different virus from the current SARS-CoV-2 virus. The destruction ultimately leads to inactivation of the virus. In the mode of UV disinfection and sterilization, condensed ultraviolet beams are emitted to kill bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, with a disinfection rate of 99% shown.
Hospitals use UVC radiation inside air ducts to disinfect the air. This is the safest way to employ UVC radiation because direct UVC exposure to human skin or eyes may cause injuries, and installation of UVC within an air duct is less likely to cause exposure to skin and eyes.
UV disinfection robots
Hospitals from most Member States expressed a need and interest in receiving disinfection robots. These robots can disinfect standard patient rooms, using ultraviolet light, in as quickly as 15 minutes, and thus help prevent and reduce the spread of the virus. The process is controlled by an operator, who will be located outside of the space to be disinfected, in order to avoid any exposure to the UV light.
Europe has remained resilient and solidary during the current crisis.
Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added: “From repatriating EU citizens stranded abroad to increasing the production of masks and ensuring that medical equipment reaches those who need it within the single market, we are acting to protect our citizens. Now we are deploying disinfection robots in hospitals so that our citizens can benefit from this potentially life-saving technology.”
The disinfection robots arrive at EU hospitals in the coming weeks.
Disinfection robots save lives in the fight against the Corona virus
Back in 2014-2017, Blue Ocean Robotics created a self-driving disinfection robot in a pre-commercial procurement for a buyers group from several Danish regions. Since then, the Danish start-up attracted $34M USD Venture Capital, experienced a steep growth to dkk 800 million valuation and +100 employees, and is tipped to become Denmark’s next unicorn. The company already sold its disinfection robot to over 40 countries that are now using it to combat the Corona virus.
The development started in 2014, when a group of Danish hospitals started a hospital disinfection pre-commercial procurement, demanding a far more effective way of reducing infection rates in hospitals. The fruitful collaboration between bacteriologists, virologists and hospital staff from hospitals, and robot developers, designers, engineers, investors and business people from Blue Ocean Robotics.
The solution consist of a self-driving robot platform with a UV light system. With ultraviolet light, the robot can disinfect and kill diseases, viruses, bacteria, and other types of harmful organic microorganisms in the environment by breaking down their DNA-structure. The robot disinfects 99,99% of the bacteria and viruses. The invention increases the safety of both staff, patients and their relatives by reducing the risk of contact with bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms. This can effectively prevent and reduce the spread of infectious diseases, viruses and bacteria. The system automatically pays special attention to “infection hotspots”, such as washbasin, patient bed, handles etc.
The UVD robot is user-friendly, safe, and reliable, saves operational costs and eliminates human error. Once the cleaning staff orders the robot to start its cleaning route via an app, the robot moves autonomously from room to room, it can take the elevator and open doors automatically. It therefore has a minimal impact on hospital staff workflow. In addition, the robot supports an optional add-on module that can detect fluorescent bacteria and biological fluids. This can for example be a learning tool for cleaning staff, for data collection regarding hospital hygiene, etc.
Through a Chinese partner, Sunay Healthcare Supply, the robots have been deployed since February in all Chinese provinces to help fight the Corona virus. “Before entering into the agreement with UVD Robots, we screened the market for the best technologies to fight the coronavirus. We found the UVD robot to be superior compared to other technologies. More than 2,000 hospitals now have the opportunity to ensure effective disinfection, protecting both their patients and staff,” says Su Yan, CEO of Sunay Healthcare Supply, a medical equipment supplier to the Chinese market.
Denmark’s next unicorn
Since 2016 the company attracted three rounds of investment ($7,4M USD in 2016, $14,8M USD in 2018 and $12M USD in 2019). It doubled its valuation in one year time and is growing so fast that it is hiring one new employee per day. The company is tipped to become Denmark’s next unicorn. Since the early market introduction in 2018, the UVD robot has already been sold in more than 40 countries. UVD Robots is delivering its self-driving disinfection robots to hospitals throughout Asia in addition to healthcare markets in Europe and the United States. The UVD robot has won several prizes, among which recently the European award euRobotics, Technology Transfer Award 2020, together with Odense University Hospital that originally tested and certified the safety and effectiveness of the robot.
Claus Risager, CEO of Blue Ocean Robotics and Chairman of the Board of UVD Robots, calls it a tremendous satisfaction to help combat the Corona virus around the world. “Thanks to the work that was kick-started by forward looking hospitals in the pre-commercial procurement, we are now ready to help solve one of the biggest problems of our time, preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses with a robot that saves lives in hospitals every day.”