Covid-19 call-out to reinvigorate manufacturing

Covid-19 call-out to reinvigorate manufacturing

There has been no shortage of inspiring stories of companies repurposing to produce vital goods for tackling the Covid-19 crisis, from ventilators to hand sanitisers to surgical masks and the machines that make them.

But there are so many businesses out there that have much offer but don't know where to start, whether it be for product testing, certification, funding or even having the right contacts in government to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers on the frontline. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has often evoked the metaphor of a "bridge" to describe various measures taking us to the other side of this pandemic, but there is another bridge that is just as vital.

Serial entrepreneur Ben Bradshaw, who has set up the company Emergency Medical Supplies, believes Australia's public and private sectors need to collaborate and connect now more than ever.

Bradshaw has been given the support of the Federal Government to conduct initial discussions with suppliers about the potential procurement of important PPE to assist the country's Covid-19 effort.

"We need to just cut through the red tape and move as fast as we can to help the healthcare workers and make sure there is going to be enough PPE gear," says Bradshaw, who was Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 and founded such companies as Disrupt Digital and SponsoredLinX.

"Australia is ahead of the curve, we're making sure there are proper factory inspections going on, making sure that the standards are there, but ideally we can get to a place where local supply can start gearing up.

"That's a much better scenario because then we could be an industry leader in making this kind of equipment."

Through his various networks Bradshaw has established a comprehensive list of domestic and international PPE suppliers, but the aim is that the local side of that will grow.

"We're there asking businesses what they need. Is it funds? Is it TGA approval?

"We can expediate that, we can introduce you to the right government authorities to get that happening - we've got supply chains established with our lists globally."

Bradshaw says he has already successfully helped some manufacturers pivot to PPE production. For example, yesterday he organised the supply of 100 million N95 masks and began discussions with a startup that is making cutting-edge field ventilators.

"There is a scramble happening across the country right now. There are other people like us contributing.

"The decision makers are really getting their act together, taking this seriously and making sure there's good supply coming. Last week was a good example of that with Andrew Forrest.

"If you can make PPE gear or have capacity to pivot to making PPE gear, let us know."

Bradshaw can be contacted at [email protected]

Updated at 10:36am AEST on 8 April 2020.

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