Dyson will not provide medical ventilators to help the NHS treat Covid-19 patients after the government informed the engineering firm that its services are no longer needed.
Sir James Dyson, the company’s billionaire founder, said the company had already spent around £ 20 million on the project, but would not seek public money to cover its costs.
The government had filed a provisional order with the company for 10,000 copies of a prototype fan called CoVent, which the company had designed in two weeks.
The order was conditional on the device receiving regulatory approval from the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Although MHRA does not appear to have rejected CoVent, approval is expected to take some time and need for NHS ventilators has so far been less than the 18,000 that Secretary of Health Matt Hancock has said is necessary .
” [Our] people welcomed the government’s challenge, “said Dyson, after the Daily Telegraph announced that his company had been asked to step down.
“Fortunately, they are not necessary, but we do not regret our contribution to the national effort for a while. I have a little hope that our fan, we can still help the answer in other countries, but this requires more time and investigation.
“The team worked 24/7 to design and build a sophisticated fan in a short period of time – I hope they can spend this weekend with their families who have not seen them for weeks. weeks. “
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said, “A number of devices are […] go through the tests necessary for regulatory approval. No decision has been made on these devices and we will provide an update in due course. “
The government has tasked several companies with supplying 10,000 new fans each, awarding contracts to Dyson, the defense company Babcock, and a Cambridge-based group called Sagentia, a subsidiary of Science Group.
But none of the companies has so far received regulatory approval for new devices.
Dyson’s is the second project to be abandoned, after an effort involving the Renault and Aston Martin Red Bull Formula One teams due to a change in the specifications set by the government for the new devices.
The only group to have obtained regulatory approval and to supply fans to the NHS in significant numbers is Ventilator Challenge UK, a consortium of manufacturers that has focused on increasing the production of proven devices, rather than building again.
The consortium has delivered more than 250 copies to the NHS, is expected to reach 1,500 in early May and could supply up to 20,000 devices manufactured by Penlon, an Oxfordshire specialist and Smiths Medical, of Luton.