MONTREAL -- With the demand for respiratory support steadily rising amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Montreal hospitals are challenging the public to design a low-maintenance ventilator to meet the population’s needs.

A lack of available ventilators around the world is forcing healthcare professionals to pick and choose which patients to save. With this in mind, the Montreal General Hospital Foundation and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre are gathering ideas from challenge participants over the next two weeks.   

Backed by a prize of $200,000, teams who sign up for the Code Life Ventilator Challenge are asked to “design a low-cost, simple, easy-to-use and easy-to-build ventilator that can serve the COVID patients, in an emergency time frame,” reads the Montreal General Hospital Foundation’s webpage.

Manufacturing tools like 3D printers are widely available around the world – what’s missing is a design for a ventilator. Once designs are approved by a committee of experts, the top three will be made available to everyone via free download. 

With health officials saying COVID-19 could affect up to 70 per cent of the population, the hope is that the design created from this challenge will quickly compensate for the lack of equipment in hospitals everywhere.

Teams have until March 31 to submit their projects.