New films highlight extraordinary impact of partnership between IfM and local hospitals during COVID-19

A new series of films tell the story of how the IfM, Cambridge University Hospitals and Royal Papworth Hospital collaborated during the crisis – and how they built a foundation for the future.


At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, hospitals across the UK needed rapidly accessible and innovative solutions to support the emerging operational challenges. In Cambridge, the IfM came together with Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) NHS Trust, which runs Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and Royal Papworth Hospital to help them make the best use of their resources, improving hospital logistics, PPE delivery and intensive care unit equipment development.  


Three films were commissioned to highlight the key features of the partnership as well as showcase two of the projects which led to a positive impact on the hospitals and their patients.


The films focus on the collaborative nature of the partnership; a project to help the estates team better manage oxygen flows; and the development of a ventilator sharing device which enables two patients to receive tailored respiratory support at the same time.



Dr Ewen Cameron, Executive Director of Improvement from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, explained: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic placed extreme pressure on healthcare systems across the world. It represented one of the greatest public health challenges of our time and had a huge impact on the NHS. We had to completely rethink how we did things and so it was hugely valuable to work with the IfM, which – in bringing in different perspectives and the skills – helped us to solve those problems.


‘They also brought a mindset of capability and a strong work ethic, meaning we were able to work quickly together, developing a deep level of trust. It has been a hugely rewarding partnership, despite dealing with some really challenging problems and so I am delighted that these films really showcase that effort.’


Professor Tim Minshall, Dr John C Taylor Professor of Innovation & Head of the Institute for Manufacturing, said: ‘Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Royal Papworth Hospital reached out to us in the middle of a crisis, and we wanted to respond as positively as we could. A strong foundation in healthcare work - together with the institute’s culture of collaboration - meant the IfM was able to react quickly and effectively to the COVID-19 crisis; mobilising students, staff and healthcare contacts across the city to ensure a swift and targeted response.


‘It is wonderful to have this opportunity to tell some of these stories and show the extraordinary effort involved from staff and students from across the IfM, Addenbrooke’s and Papworth hospitals.


‘Most importantly, this is not the end. Our partnership will continue as we explore innovative ways to solve some of the pressing healthcare challenges of our time.’


A successful partnership

IfM has a long history of involvement in healthcare and has been working in the space for thirty years (from medical device design and pharmaceutical supply chains). This meant that the IfM could react quickly when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, responding to new challenges using past experience.


As a result of the success of this work, a joint Cambridge University Hospitals Trust (CUH)–IfM panel has been initiated so that local hospitals and the IfM can continue working together for mutual benefit after the pandemic.


‘Collaborations usually face multiple barriers and take time, but COVID-triggered the successful collaboration in the midst of a crisis,’ says Tim. ‘But this collaboration provides an example of how academic/engineering and healthcare organisations quickly formed a successful partnership to overcome barriers – and we have now expanded the work to other longer term challenges, such as tackling hospital waiting lists, making the most of digital technology and meeting the NHS’s ambitious targets to reach net carbon zero.’


A new ventilating sharing device for Covid-19



Oxygen resilience during Covid-19



Collaboration opportunities

If you would like to know more collaboration opportunities with the IfM or have ideas on ways to collaborate, please visit or email:

Date published

24 November 2022

For further information please contact:

Elizabeth Tofaris


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