Innovating during a pandemic

The UK is looking for ways to be part of the solution, rising to challenges posed by COVID-19. Thanks to quick thinking and innovation, enterprising UK companies have been adapting their production and manufacturing capacity to provide rapid solutions. 

Architects at the cutting-edge of innovation and design are leading and supporting efforts to produce protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers around the world. Grimshaw for example have joined the UK open-source campaign organised by the National 3D Printing Society to print and assemble components for protective masks. Hopkins Architects are using their 3D printers – normally used to create architectural models – to create face mask components as part of a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) initiative to support our National Health Service (NHS).  

Foster + Partners has created a laser-cut face shield that can be quickly manufactured as well as taken apart for cleaning and disinfection. The firm shared the design files to encourage other manufacturers to explore scaling up production, because laser cutting the face shield is a quicker process than 3D printing.  

A number of UK brewers and distillers pivoted their beer and spirits making to creating alcohol for hand sanitiser and many donated to their local hospitals for free. 

De Montfort University is a UK Pavilion Founding Partner and provides a further example of how the UK’s education sector are rallying to support during this pandemic. Around 200 nurses from the University were fast-tracked to join the NHS, and 1,500 student nurses were put on placement in the East Midlands to support the NHS. Student pharmacists were on the ground at local pharmacies to help out, and De Montfort University teaching staff returned to previous roles in the NHS.

Our other UK Pavilion Founding Partner, HSBC, are also donating millions to charities in the UK and the Middle East supporting the fight against COVID-19. 

A UK doctor also created a new way for covid-19 patients and doctors to communicate when wearing face masks, hoods and face covers through the use of digital flashcards called Cardmedic which is being used now in over 50 countries in 30 languages. 

JCB adapted their production line to create ventilator housing to help meet demands. 

The pandemic will have a lasting impact on how we view the world and the way we live our lives. As never before, the impact of COVID-19 has shown the world that every nation must collaborate across borders to work for a shared future. We are looking forward to making the most of having so many nations in one place we can talk to, learn from, collaborate on and share our innovations with.