The coronavirus pandemic has led to a huge demand for the EpiShuttle, a transport system that resembles an adult incubator and that can transport highly infectious patients. EpiGuard, Inven2’s portfolio company, developed the EpiShuttle.
‘I came up with the idea for EpiShuttle while working on acquiring equipment for transporting infectious patients during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014. I started developing the transport incubator then, and, naturally, it took time. When the next outbreak of Ebola occurred in the Congo in 2018, Epishuttle was on the market and could transport seriously ill and highly infectious patients,’ says Fridtjof Heyerdahl.
Heyerdahl is currently CMO of EpiGuard and is also a consultant and senior researcher at the Air Ambulance Service at Oslo University Hospital.
‘There was a lot of interest in the EpiShuttle in 2018, and we positioned ourselves accordingly. We were in frequent contact with leading healthcare services involved in transporting infectious patients throughout the world. Many healthcare services wanted to purchase the transport incubator at that time but did not have the means to do so,’ says Fridtjof Heyerdahl.
Then came the news of a respiratory disorder with a high mortality rate from Wuhan in China.
When the coronavirus pandemic was confirmed in March 2020, sales rocketed due to significantly increased demand for the transport incubator.
‘Customers with whom we had built up a network over the years had increased budgets because of the pandemic, and were then able to buy the EpiShuttle,’ says Heyerdahl.
In April, the defence forces in Scotland, Norway and Denmark bought several transport incubators for transporting patients infected with the coronavirus.
The German Air Ambulance Service, ‘DRF Luftrettung’ also bought EpiShuttles, and in May 2020, EpiGuard signed a distribution agreement with the American company, LifePort, which covers the United States and Canada.
To date, 250 transport incubators that were produced at our factory in Fredrikstad have been exported throughout the world, and, of this number, 211 were sold in 2020.
‘We had to treble our workforce in 2020 to meet the demand for orders, and we’ve big plans for 2021,’ says Ellen Cathrine Andersen, CEO at EpiGuard.
One project involves the further development of EpiShuttle. The company has succeeded in securing funding of EUR 2.5 million, equivalent to about NOK 25 million, from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for this project.
- Press release about the North American distribution agreement
- Norwegian TV2’s story about the Norwegian Armed Forces’ purchase of five EpiShuttles
- Article about the idea behind EpiGuard