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From Winemaking to Life Saving, BarrelWise Technologies to Produce Filtering Facepiece Respirator (FFR) Mask Decontamination Oven


entrepreneurship@UBC venture selected by Genome BC for Rapid Response Funding for COVID-19 projects

Barrelwise LogoVANCOUVER, BC, CANADA, April 16, 2020. – BarrelWise Technologies (BarrelWise) today announced that it has received funding from Genome BC’s Rapid Response Funding for COVID-19 research and innovation projects. The project funds will cover an initial 5 week development phase to produce a decontamination oven for disinfecting filtering facepiece respirator (FFR) masks that are essential for front-line healthcare workers and the communities they serve. BarrelWise, currently part of entrepreneurship@UBC’s Hatch Accelerator program, develops and manufactures a barrel management system that helps winemakers protect and enhance the quality of their wines by mitigating the risks of contamination in the barrel-aging process. With Genome BC’s funding, the company is able to pivot their equipment and services to design, manufacture and test a flexible solution to extend British Columbia’s supply of life-saving FFR masks.

BarrelWise will be developing a decontamination method that uses dry and humid heat to sterilize masks, as heat based methods offer a distinct set of advantages including the fact they do not require specialty components with competitive supply-chain limitations (e.g. bulbs and ballasts for UV sterilization) and can be manufactured imminently and locally. With access to laboratories housing necessary equipment, as well as the technical expertise, BarrelWise intends to bring their cost-effective scale of manufacturing to market in the next four to five weeks. The quick deployment of design, validation and health authority approval will mean that a safe and reliable sanitation option can be made available in less than one month from production should the kind of extended personal protection equipment (PPE) demand spike and supply shortages that have been observed in the US, China, and Europe, occur in BC.

With the dramatic number of COVID-19 cases across British Columbia, the number of patients requiring aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMP) is expected to increase exponentially in the next short while. This is already happening across the US and Europe, who are further along the infection trajectory and who have consequently experienced shortages of FFR masks to protect their frontline healthcare providers. Supply chain coordinators for Vancouver Coastal Health and Vancouver Island Health Authority have both expressed grave concern towards this issue.

“While the exact needs of individual health authorities over the coming weeks and months are challenging to forecast, the global nature of this pandemic has put tremendous strain on supply chains of medical supplies and created a highly competitive landscape for acquiring essential components” stated Jason Sparrow, CEO of BarrelWise. “It is because of these factors, we are now heavily focused on a rapid and lean development of a robust and research-backed technology solution”, he adds. The BarrelWise FFR mask decontamination project is being led by the 6163 University Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6T 2A1 6163 University Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6T 2A1 604 822-0600 info@entrepreneurship.ubc.ca company’s Chief Technology Officer, David Sommer, the BarrelWise team and several other UBC medical and engineering experts.

About BarrelWise

BarrelWise Technologies Ltd. is a Vancouver-based company providing technology to enhance wine production and analysis. BarrelWise was started in 2018 by three MBAs and two PhD Mechanical Engineers at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The company is currently part of the Hatch Accelerator program with entrepreneurship@UBC and has the support of seasoned business advisors and mentors with a breadth of experience in agriculture, industrial design and entrepreneurship.



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