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Each year approximately 50,000 Danes catch an infection during hospitalization and an estimated 3,000 people die from infection related complications. For Denmark that results in USD 162 million preventable annual expenses. The numbers are much higher for USA – USD 30 billion and USD 600 million for Australia. With variable sources of infections there is a great need for effective disinfection processes.
That is why Blue Ocean Robotics and leading university hospitals in Scandinavia cooperated in a RoBi-X Partnership in creating a new disinfection solution – UV-Disinfection Robot. The UV-Disinfection Robot is a mobile robot that can drive autonomously while emitting concentrated UV-C light (short-wavelength ultraviolet light) onto pre-defined infectious hotspots in patient rooms, OR’s and other hospital environments. Clinical tests have proven that an exposure time of only ten minutes eliminates up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on the irradiated surface and improves patients and hospital staff safety.
Challenges in the healthcare sector
Some of the main national goals for Danish healthcare are: shortening length of stay in the hospital per admission, improving patient safety, and general patient satisfaction. Current, non-robotized, cleaning process in hospitals still results in a high number of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) that lead to a prolonged hospitalization, readmissions of patients, sick leaves among infected hospital staff and even deaths. Even the most precise manual disinfection of patients rooms and OR’s does not assure the elimination of some of the dangerous bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms located in hospitals as they growth depends on the many factors like air quality or temperature, and some of the bacteria show resistance to chemical disinfection products. This contributes to the growth of preventable hospitalizations, jeopardizes patient safety and concludes with a low patient satisfaction.
The solutions to this problem previously provided by the market were immobile machines that required up to an hour to be positioned and set up for work. That is why Sygehuspartnerskabet, the formal partnership between five Danish regions and The Market Development Fund aiming at promoting development and market demand for new commercial hospital solutions, made an open call to find a solution to this fundamental healthcare sector problem.
Blue Ocean Robotics develops innovative disinfection solution
As Blue Ocean Robotics answered the open call from Sygehuspartnerskabet and proved itself to be the best partner for the challenge, the two organizations initiated a RoBi-X Partnership to design a robot that would provide an effective and safe way of disinfecting hospital rooms. The RoBi-Design phase was initiated in 2015 where the business plan for the project and the concept of the UV-Disinfection Robot were created in collaboration between the two parties. Through a series of interactive processes and milestones the partners determined the focal points, main obstacles and the most desired solutions. The two-way cooperation and exchange of expertise is the key of the RoBi-X Partnership that ensures the creation of the most optimal and successful solution.
In the second phase – RoBi-Develop, the Development Team worked on building the robot based on the technology platform, TP-Mobile, which is one of Blue Ocean Robotics’ integrated technology platforms involving both software and hardware. Using TP-Mobile made it possible to create a robot capable of locating and positioning itself, avoiding obstacles and navigating safely through its surroundings. In September of 2016, the UV-Disinfection Robot was ready for the first clinical tests at Odense University Hospital in a period of over 3 weeks at one of the most demanding departments of the hospital – The Children’s Department of Contagious Infectious Diseases. The results were more than satisfactory – UV-Disinfection Robot proved not only to neutralize 99.9% of the bacteria on an exposed surface in a span of just 10 minutes but also moved safely around the hospital.
The UV-Disinfection Robot will improve and simplify the way we currently disinfect patient rooms. And by letting the robot support the cleaning, we aim to reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections, sick leaves and – last but not least – the number of deaths due to infections acquired during hospitalization. Odense University Hospital and the Clinical Microbiology department led by Hans Jørn Kolmos, has all along participated in and supported the development process of UV-Disinfection Robot, and will continue to assist Blue Ocean Robotics and Sygehuspartnerskabet with clinical expertise, says Peder Jest, Executive Director, Odense University Hospital.
Bringing the UV-Disinfection Robot into the market
The positive test results during the RoBi-Develop phase created a great starting point for bringing the UV-Disinfection Robot into the market. To jumpstart the RoBi-GoToMarket phase, the spin-out company UVD Robots ApS was launched in January 2018 with Per Juul Nielsen as the CEO.
“Our vision is to support the healthcare sector in the fight against HAIs for the sake of the patients, hospital staff and the healthcare costs. The UV-Disinfection Robot is a perfect example of a robot serving humans good and working towards improvement of quality-of-life. We are excited to take the product to the global market.”
Per Juul NielsenCEO of UVD Robots ApS
UVD Robots ApS is located in Odense and plans to include more people in its activities as it gradually grows. Even though the UV-Disinfection Robot has been developed for the healthcare sector, it can also be applied to the food production and manufacturing facilities, laboratories, hotels and other places requiring diligent disinfection, creating a big market potential for autonomous mobile disinfection solutions.
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