Saving lives in the Covid-19 crisis


Free emergency ventilator designs for everyone, everywhere




We’re an international collaboration of scientists, engineers and healthcare professionals in Cambridge and beyond, working to create freely-available designs for emergency ventilators to help save thousands of lives in the coronavirus crisis.

Our goal is to produce an open-source design for an emergency ventilator in kit form, using widely-available parts. As part of the project, we are designing a universal control panel that can be attached to any ventilator to help doctors use a range of different machines easily.

Doctors in some countries are already having to make the heartbreaking decision about who lives and who dies because of a shortage of ventilators.

We believe no one should ever be put in that position.

If you can help with expertise or funding, please get in touch. Find out more about what we are doing and what we need below.

Everyone on this project is working for free.

Our approach

A ventilator provides a patient with oxygen via a tube passed through the trachea (windpipe) to the lungs. 

The GlobalVent approach is to break down the overall structure of the machine into separate components, each buildable in different ways according to available materials.


We’re working on a modular design for a ventilator. A range of designs will be tested and published for each component, with each part required only to work effectively and have the same interface, so the machines can be assembled in kit form.


The goal is to allow reliable emergency ventilators to be built fast and at scale in differing ways, according to the materials and manufacturing options available in different locations worldwide. It is vital that the machines can be built in developing countries with weaker health systems as well as here in Europe.


We are responding directly to needs outlined by doctors working on the frontline treating coronavirus patients.


The project is not intended to challenge or impede government plans or supply lines. Instead, it is designed to find new and innovative ways to tackle the ventilator shortage.

Project details

There are three strands to our work: ventilator designs, a generic ventilator control panel and oxygen concentrators. 


We are working on open source kit-form ventilator designs. Our ventilator concept uses pipes oscillating in a body of water to move air. The use of water allows for intrinsic safety from over-pressurising the patient’s lungs. We are now prototyping our final design of lung ventilator. Our first revision of designs is complete and we are engaging people to build and test the unit.


We are developing a generic user interface (UI) – essentially a control panel – designed to provide the critical information from any ventilator to the anaesthetist on duty. The clear communication of how exactly the patient is being treated is critical in enabling correct care and clinical decision-making.

The user interface becomes a platform to develop a more advanced solution in the future. As we move from solely displaying critical data through to turning the user interface into a means to control the pumping action of a ventilator we enable the possibility of ultimately developing a robotic ventilator.


We are seeking help to develop oxygen concentrators. These are devices that can produce a pure stream of oxygen from air. Our work so far has shown us these will soon be increasingly critical to care for Covid-19 patients, particularly in poorer countries.


What we need

We are looking for help from anyone who feels they have specific expertise that can contribute to our projects, or from anyone who can contribute funding or support in kind.


Kit form ventilator:

We need mechanical engineers to help with the development effort. The design effort is principally in the Cambridge area. We need those who have access to workshops and prototyping and manufacturing facilities.


Generic user interface:

We need engineers with experience in medical device regulations and design for safety critical systems. Further, we need Linux engineers, software developers and roboticists.


Oxygen concentrators:

This is a new goal we have increasingly seen will need to be addressed. We need a full engineering team for this effort. So far all of our engineers are focusing on the ventilator design and construction.


Who we are


We are an international team of engineers, scientists and medical device specialists based primarily in Cambridge, UK, and Germany.

Find out more about us.


Communications & website for the project are run by Creative Warehouse, Cambridge. Contact us here for GlobalVent media inquiries.



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