Heath businesses in fight against Coronavirus
Specialist companies located at The Heath Business and Technical Park are conducting cutting-edge scientific research and helping to maintain key supply streams in the battle against COVID-19.
John Lewis MBE, Managing Director of SOG Group which owns and operates The Heath in Runcorn, Cheshire, says: Although many of the 120 businesses based at our site are having to work from home or have had to furlough many of their staff, there are a number of firms that are still working here. Some of these businesses are conducting important research and helping to support the Governments efforts to combat Coronavirus.
One company INOVYN, part of the giant INEOS conglomerate, is playing a critical role through products it produces which underpin the UKs national infrastructure. These include products for clean water, sanitization, healthcare, food and power generation.
INOVYN is also making a direct contribution to the UKs response to Coronavirus by maintaining supplies of key chemicals being used on the front-line, whether as PPE for doctors and nurses, medicines, hospital detergents and hand sanitisers, says Communications Manager Janet Ward.
INEOS, as part of its Hands On COVID-19 response, has also launched a £1 million charitable fund to support vulnerable communities around INEOS sites and its sports teams.
SME business Spheritech is conducting vital scientific research from its laboratory at The Heath. Founder and Managing Director Dr. Don Wellings says: Our company has developed a long acting alcohol-free hand sanitiser which is already proven to be antibacterial and antifungal. This sanitiser has now been modified to add anti-viral properties in the wake of the current pandemic. We have applied for Government funding through Innovate UK to complete the microbiology and allow classification as a biocide.
We have already arranged follow on scale-up of manufacture with a local company which is also capable of bottling in huge volumes. If successful in gaining the Government funding it is anticipated that the new alcohol-free, long-lasting hand sanitiser will be available to the NHS within 6 months, and available to the general public shortly afterwards.
Dr Wellings revealed Spheritech has also invented and is developing an anti-viral face mask filter which is already proven to be effective against bacterial and fungi.
He says: The core antimicrobial biopolymer at the centre of this is currently in a Medical Research Council funded clinical trial as an antimicrobial corneal bandage. We are now looking to add anti-viral properties, hopefully through an Innovate UK funding application which is pending. This filter has the properties required to capture the Coronavirus, COVID-19 and kill it in the filter. This is a huge advantage over current masks which only capture the moisture droplets that carry the virus from coughs and sneezes, leaving a reservoir for microbes and viruses to thrive.
Spheritech is already in contact with large scale manufacturers for the filter and has also identified a face mask manufacturer to launch this novel truly personal protective equipment (PPE). If government funding is approved the new PPE will be available to the NHS within 6 months
Dr Wellings adds: Spheritech is already working on the next generation PPE which will have the ability to specifically target chosen viruses further enhancing the above developments. This novel technology could be progressed rapidly with appropriate Government, charitable or private funding.
Mr Lewis says: These are just a couple of examples of the vital work being undertaken by some of the very highly specialised businesses that are located at The Heath which is also playing a major part, with a very reduced dedicated team, to enable our site to remain open for business during this crisis - allowing this vital work to proceed unhindered.
About The Heath
The Heath Business and Technical Park is a phenomenal regeneration success story. Formed in 2000, its owner and operator, SOG Ltd, has transformed a once single occupancy corporate facility into a thriving independent business park. The Heath now provides office and laboratory accommodation for more than 120 individual organisations, ranging from business services and IT specialists to those at the cutting edge of science, research and advanced manufacturing. Around 2,000 people are employed at the site. For further information, telephone 01928 515988 or visit www.theheath.com
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PAUL SMITH ASSOCIATES
30th April 2020