University of Alaska Fairbanks fights COVID-19 with innovation

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The University of Alaska Fairbanks is developing new ways to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic.

So far, four projects have been approved for funding. (Photo courtesy of Mark Billingsley)

UAF’s Center for Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship has initiated the Immediate Innovation for Coronavirus Project.

According to Mark Billingsley, Intellectual Property and Contracts Director with the university, the purpose of the project is to “spur innovation and support the development of solutions to the coronavirus health crisis, and new conditions that we’ll all be living in as a result of the coronavirus.”

Between March 27th and April 10, around 30 projects were proposed, totaling a million dollars in requested funds. So far, four projects have been approved.

According to Billingsley, who acts as the program manager for the project, one involves the creation of a device to “channel the exhalation of patients who are using a Nebulizer so that their breath and the aerosols and liquids that they release do not enter the local environment.”

Another project uses 3-D printers to create items needed in the medical community, including respirator parts.

A third involves the development of a tool to identify community risk factors and other statistics regarding COVID-19.

The fourth uses ultraviolet rays to sterilize personal protective equipment, including N-95 masks.

To Billingsley, the project demonstrates a value the university has to the community. “This project, and other work the university has been doing, has really highlighted how the university can respond to health crises like this. It's brought out a great level of innovation, and people who are very enthusiastic and motivated to contribute to solving community problems," he said.
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