Portsmouth Aviation starts to fly in medical device market with exovent negative pressure ventilator

Exovent is delighted to announce the UK manufacturer, Portsmouth Aviation, will be developing the next iteration of the exovent negative pressure ventilator taking it through regulatory approval and subsequent manufacture.  This follows an agreement reached with Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group (MADG) to share with Portsmouth Aviation the knowledge and prototypes it developed in partnership with the exovent task force.

The exovent task force formed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, inspired by calls from the UK Government for rapid innovation to combat the challenge presented by SARS-CoV-2.  The team is composed of anaesthetists, critical care consultants, nurses, medical clinicians, engineers, academics, scientists and manufacturers. This initiative was not part of the UK’s ‘Ventilator Challenge’, because that project encouraged innovation for positive pressure devices only.

Thanks to the investment of over £1m of volunteer time, rapid engineering development and prototyping by MADG and partnership with WMG, at the University of Warwick, via the WMG centre HVM Catapult, a proof of function prototype has been developed. Having taken the product to the pre-production stage, Marshall will now hand over all of its background knowledge, data, design and engineering drawings, along with their latest working prototype of the exovent device, to the team at Portsmouth Aviation who will further develop the device to prepare it for regulatory approval and subsequent manufacture. It is expected that the new device will be submitted for approval by August.  Assuming approval is granted by the end of the year, production and clinical trials will start next year.

Exovent’s non-invasive breathing support system would offer more comfort to patients requiring mechanical ventilation, who would not need to be asleep (under general anaesthetic) or have an artificial airway in place (intubated).  After the initial close monitoring of patients, the team believe the system would require less intensive nursing care and thereby the system could be used anywhere in the hospital, and even potentially at home. Clinical Trials are planned for later this year to add evidence to the existing proven clinical benefits.

Ian Joesbury, CEO of exovent says: “We would like to thank Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group for their amazing work and support getting us to this advanced stage. We could not have done it without them. We look forward to working with Portsmouth Aviation to start producing exovent in the UK as soon as the regulatory approval has been received and thank them for their commitment to this project.”

Simon Escott, Managing Director of Portsmouth Aviation adds: “Portsmouth Aviation Ltd are delighted to join this exciting, innovative and potentially globally lifesaving solution at a key point in its development and to take it through to manufacture. We very much look forward to becoming an integral partner and working with everybody concerned.”

Gary Moynehan, CEO of MADG explains: “We were approached early in the pandemic by the exovent team to support them in the development of a new, non-invasive negative pressure ventilator to provide alternative treatment options for Covid-19 patients.”

“Recognising the benefits that exovent could deliver, we offered to provide our engineering expertise to support the design and rapid prototyping of the first unit which enabled medics to get their hands on a working device in just four weeks.”

“Using their feedback from the prototype we were able to mature the product and build four pre-production units that have since gone through much of the stringent testing necessary for application in a medical setting.”

“We are now delighted to be able to hand the project over to Portsmouth Aviation and are optimistic that their own engineering and manufacturing expertise will be able to deliver a cost-effective product that will ultimately prove invaluable in the treatment of patients with a broad range of respiratory issues.”


exovent media enquiries

Kate Miller/Bianka Weber

07720 593428 / 079 2667 1486

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group media enquiries

Sarah Oakes

07765 221168

Portsmouth Aviation media enquiries

Andrew Stradling
02391 662251

Medical benefits

  • exovent-19 can provide an alternative choice to using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) by delivering continuous negative extra-thoracic pressure (CNEP). This device does not require to be driven by pressurised air or oxygen. Additional oxygen that the patient needs can be provided with tubing or a face mask as required
  • exovent-19 should give excellent oxygen and carbon-dioxide transfer because replacing PPV+PEEP (positive pressure ventilation + positive end expiratory pressure) with NPV+NEEP (negative pressure ventilation + negative end expiratory pressure) has been shown to give equal or improved gas transfer when treating ARDS
  • exovent-19 should increase the heart’s efficiency by up to 25% compared to conventional PPV which squeezes the heart and veins in the chest and may actually reduce cardiac function. This is especially important because COVID-19 can make heart function worse
  • exovent-19 is non-invasive, which means that patients do not need to have their windpipes intubated, so they don’t need to be sedated or paralysed. Instead, they can remain conscious, take medication and nutrition by mouth, and talk to loved ones on the phone
  • Being non-invasive and simple to use, exovent-19 could be used in intensive care or potentially on an ordinary ward
  • exovent-19 only covers the torso so monitoring is still possible, and patients can be easily treated while prone (lying on their front) which is more effective in treating pneumonia. Oxygen can be delivered direct to the patient by mask or tubing as required
  • exovent-19 is less likely to cause a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) as negative pressure ventilation produces less micro-trauma to the lung

Manufacturing benefits

  • Can be rapidly mass produced
  • Uses parts currently available in the UK
  • Has a small number of moving parts
  • Does not compete for the same resources required by the commissioned manufacturers of PPVs
  • Unlike PPVs or CPAPs, exovent does not require medical-grade compressed gases, which are at risk of shortage in the NHS due to heavy levels of demand for oxygen (although Covid-19 patients will need to be treated with oxygen)
  • Is less expensive than other forms of ventilation
  • Can be assembled at speed

About Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (MAGD)

  • MADG has specialised in protecting people in critical situations for more than 100 years. Today the company continues to deliver its global customers world-leading applied engineering services across its core capabilities of managed services, integration and technologies.
  • MADG comprises a team of more than 1,800 highly skilled colleagues, located across UK, Canada, Europe and Middle East, dedicated to setting the highest standards across the industry.
  • MADG is part of Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Limited, the private holding company of the Marshall family. Founded in 1909, the Group had a turnover of nearly £2.5bn in 2018, and more than 5,500 employees.

About Portsmouth Aviation Ltd.

  • Portsmouth Aviation Ltd is a family-owned firm with over 90 years of experience in the Aerospace and Defence Industry. The Company is always open to new, innovative ways to make a difference both nationally and internationally.
  • The core capabilities of the business include Design, Development, Engineering, Manufacturing, Metal Finishing, Testing, Qualification, Validation and Certification which are all within our scope of ability and under one roof.
  • The Company employs 184 staff members across the aforementioned disciplines.
  • As well as operating within the defence sector the company is heavily involved with humanitarian projects in collaboration with various partners and professionals within different fields of expertise.
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