Recycling robotics company AMP Robotics could raise up to $70M

AMP Robotics, the recycling robotics technology developer backed by investors including Sequoia Capital and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, is close to closing on as much as $70 million in new financing, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans.

The new financing speaks to AMP Robotics’ continued success in pilot projects and with new partnerships that are exponentially expanding the company’s deployments.

Earlier this month the company announced a new deal that represented its largest purchase order for its trash sorting and recycling robots.

That order, for 24 machine learning-enabled robotic recycling systems with the waste handling company Waste Connections, was a showcase for the efficacy of the company’s recycling technology.

That comes on the back of a pilot program earlier in the year with one Toronto apartment complex, where the complex’s tenants were able to opt into a program that would share recycling habits monitored by AMP Robotics with the building’s renters in an effort to improve their recycling behavior.

The potential benefits of AMP Robotic’s machine learning enabled robots are undeniable. The company’s technology can sort waste streams in ways that traditional systems never could and at a cost that’s far lower than most waste handling facilities.

As TechCrunch reported earlier the tech can tell the difference between high-density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. The robots can also sort for color, clarity, opacity and shapes like lids, tubs, clamshells and cups — the robots can even identify the brands on packaging.

AMP’s robots already have been deployed in North America, Asia and Europe, with recent installations in Spain and across the U.S. in California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

At the beginning of the year, AMP Robotics  worked with its investor, Sidewalk Labs on a pilot program that provided residents of a single apartment building representing 250 units in Toronto with detailed information about their recycling habits. Sidewalk Labs is transporting the waste to a Canada Fibers material recovery facility where trash is sorted by both Canada Fibers employees and AMP Robotics.

Once the waste is categorized, sorted and recorded, Sidewalk communicates with residents of the building about how they’re doing in their recycling efforts.

It was only last November that the Denver-based AMP Robotics raised a $16 million round from Sequoia Capital and others to finance the early commercialization of its technology.

 

As TechCrunch reported at the time, recycling businesses used to be able to rely on China to buy up any waste stream (no matter the quality of the material). However, about two years ago, China decided it would no longer serve as the world’s garbage dump and put strict standards in place for the kinds of raw materials it would be willing to receive from other countries.

The result has been higher costs at recycling facilities, which actually are now required to sort their garbage more effectively. At the time, unemployment rates put the squeeze on labor availability at facilities where trash was sorted. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has put even more pressure on those recycling and waste handling facilities, despite their identification as “essential workers”.

Given the economic reality, recyclers are turning to AMP’s technology — a combination of computer vision, machine learning and robotic automation to improve efficiencies at their facilities.

And, the power of AMP’s technology to identify waste products in a stream has other benefits, according to chief executive Matanya Horowitz.

“We can identify… whether it’s a Coke or Pepsi can or a Starbucks cup,” Horowitz told TechCrunch last year. “So that people can help design their product for circularity… we’re building out our reporting capabilities and that, to them, is something that is of high interest.”

AMP Robotics declined to comment for this article.

 

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Sequoia-backed recycling robot maker AMP Robotics gets its largest purchase order

AMP Robotics, the manufacturer of robotic recycling systems, has received its largest purchase order from the publicly traded North American waste handling company, Waste Connections.

The order, for 24 machine learning enabled robotic recycling systems, will be used on container, fiber and residue lines across numerous materials recovery facilities, the company said.

The AMP technology can be used to recover plastics, cardboard, paper, cans, cartons and many other containers and packaging types reclaimed for raw material processing.

The tech can tell the difference between high-density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene. The robots can also sort for color, clarity, opacity and shapes like lids, tubs, clamshells, and cups — the robots can even identify the brands on packaging.

So far, AMP’s robots have been deployed in North America, Asia, and Europe with recent installations in Spain, and across the US in California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In January, before the pandemic began, AMP Robotics worked with its investor, Sidewalk Labs on a pilot program that would provide residents of a single apartment building representing 250 units in Toronto with detailed information about their recycling habits.

Working with the building and a waste hauler, Sidewalk Labs  would transport the waste to a Canada Fibers material recovery facility where trash will be sorted by both Canada Fibers employees and AMP Robotics. Once the waste is categorized, sorted, and recorded Sidewalk will communicate with residents of the building about how they’re doing in their recycling efforts.

Sidewalk says that the tips will be communicated through email, an online portal, and signage throughout the building every two weeks over a three-month period.

For residents, it was an opportunity to have a better handle on what they can and can’t recycle and Sidewalk Labs is betting that the information will help residents improve their habits. And for folks who don’t want their trash to be monitored and sorted, they could opt out of the program.

Recyclers like Waste Connections should welcome the commercialization of robots tackling industry problems. Their once-stable business has been turned on its head by trade wars and low unemployment. About two years ago, China decided it would no longer serve as the world’s garbage dump and put strict standards in place for the kinds of raw materials it would be willing to receive from other countries. The result has been higher costs at recycling facilities, which actually are now required to sort their garbage more effectively.

At the same time, low unemployment rates are putting the squeeze on labor availability at facilities where humans are basically required to hand-sort garbage into recyclable materials and trash.

AMP Robotics is backed by Sequoia Capital,  BV, Closed Loop Partners, Congruent Ventures  and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, a spin-out from Alphabet that invests in technologies and new infrastructure projects.

#alphabet, #amp-robotics, #amps, #articles, #asia, #california, #china, #colorado, #congruent-ventures, #energy-conservation, #europe, #florida, #machine-learning, #materials, #matter, #michigan, #minnesota, #new-york, #north-america, #plastics, #recycling, #robot, #robotics, #sequoia-capital, #sidewalk-infrastructure-partners, #spain, #tc, #texas, #toronto, #united-states, #virginia, #water-conservation, #wisconsin

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Statehouse Seats Are Up for Grabs, and With Them, Great Power

In most states, control of the state legislature comes with the authority to redraw state and federal electoral maps.

#democratic-party, #elections-state-legislature, #iowa, #minnesota, #north-carolina, #presidential-election-of-2020, #redistricting-and-reapportionment, #republican-party, #texas

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Time Running Short, Trump and Biden Return to Northern Battlegrounds

Surprise victories in the Midwest catapulted President Trump to victory four years ago, and the region again looms as the critical battleground. Both candidates are focusing on it in the final days.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #democratic-party, #iowa, #midwestern-states-us, #minnesota, #pennsylvania, #polls-and-public-opinion, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #states-us, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters, #wisconsin

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$300 Million Telemarketing Scheme Preyed on Older People, U.S. Says

Officials announced that 60 people had been charged in the scheme, in which federal prosecutors said deceptive tactics were used to sell magazine subscriptions to more than 150,000 older and vulnerable people.

#elderly, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #frauds-and-swindling, #minnesota, #telemarketing

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Coronavirus Survey Halted After Workers Faced Racial Slurs, Officials Say

Workers were followed, videotaped and threatened in confrontations across Minnesota, the state Department of Health said.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #discrimination, #disease-rates, #eitzen-minnesota, #health-department-minnesota, #medicine-and-health, #minnesota, #race-and-ethnicity

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Sorry, Kids. Snow Days Are Probably Over.

Schools, forced to cancel in-person classes because of the pandemic, have become more comfortable with remote teaching. That might mean the end of the snow day.

#anxiety-and-stress, #boston-mass, #computers-and-the-internet, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #maryland, #massachusetts, #minnesota, #new-hampshire, #parenting, #pennsylvania, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #snow-and-snowstorms

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Retired Colonel Criticizes ‘Solitary Confinement’ of Quarantined Soldiers at Guantánamo

Eric Kerska, whose daughter was deployed to the base, said he was alarmed by the isolation of young soldiers on their first tour as a coronavirus precaution.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #defense-department, #guantanamo-bay-naval-base-cuba, #kerska-eric, #minnesota, #national-guard, #quarantines, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces

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Minnesota Seemed Ripe for a Trump Breakout. It Has Not Arrived.

Minnesota was a near miss for Donald Trump in 2016. But new polling shows him well behind where he finished four years ago in a state he views as a prime pickup opportunity.

#floyd-george-d-2020, #minnesota, #polls-and-public-opinion, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #smith-tina-f, #voting-and-voters

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Trump Onslaught Against Biden Falls Short of a Breakthrough

President Trump has leveled scathing law-and-order attacks on Joseph Biden for weeks. But a new poll shows Mr. Biden ahead in three states Mr. Trump hopes to pick up, and maintaining a lead in Wisconsin.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #minnesota, #nevada, #new-hampshire, #polls-and-public-opinion, #presidential-election-of-2016, #presidential-election-of-2020, #states-us, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters, #wisconsin

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Father Michel J. Mulloy Resigns Weeks Before Becoming Bishop of Duluth

Father Michel J. Mulloy was chosen by Pope Francis to lead the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., but then an allegation from the 1980s surfaced, church officials said.

#child-abuse-and-neglect, #duluth-minn, #francis, #michel-j-mulloy, #minnesota, #priests, #rapid-city-sd, #roman-catholic-church, #sex-crimes, #sioux-falls-sd, #south-dakota

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Minneapolis Homicide Suspect’s Suicide Spurs More Protests, Police Say

Minnesota’s governor said the State Patrol and National Guard were headed to the city to help restore order, and the mayor ordered an immediate curfew.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #floyd-george-d-2020, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #minneapolis-minn, #minnesota, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-minneapolis-minn

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Trump Questions Biden’s Mental Abilities and Calls Harris Biden’s ‘Boss’

The president made three campaign rally-like appearances at airports in Minnesota and Wisconsin in an attempt to counterprogram the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #democratic-national-convention, #harris-kamala-d, #mankato-minn, #minneapolis-minn, #minnesota, #oshkosh-wis, #presidential-election-of-2020, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Ilhan Omar Wins House Primary in Minnesota

Ms. Omar, a member of the “Squad” of progressive women of color elected to the House two years ago, topped a well-funded challenger in a victory for the left.

#democratic-party, #elections-house-of-representatives, #minnesota, #omar-ilhan, #primaries-and-caucuses, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon Supporter, Wins House Primary in Georgia

Ms. Greene’s victory came as six states were holding elections on Tuesday, with Ilhan Omar facing a well-funded primary challenge in Minnesota.

#conspiracy-theories, #elections-house-of-representatives, #fringe-groups-and-movements, #georgia, #greene-marjorie-taylor-1974, #minnesota, #omar-ilhan, #republican-party, #united-states-politics-and-government

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What to Watch in Tuesday’s Primaries: Ilhan Omar and Georgia’s QAnon Candidate

Representative Omar faces a tough re-election fight in Minnesota, a Republican QAnon supporter is vying for the House in Georgia and several states face fresh tests of their elections systems.

#georgia, #greene-marjorie-taylor-1974, #minnesota, #omar-ilhan, #primaries-and-caucuses, #wisconsin

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Derek Chauvin Charged With Multiple Tax-Related Felonies in Minnesota

The former Minneapolis police officer and his wife were charged with filing fraudulent tax returns from 2014 through 2019.

#chauvin-derek-1976, #chauvin-kellie, #floyd-george-d-2020, #income-tax, #minnesota, #police-department-minneapolis-minn, #tax-evasion

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Police Find Body in Building Burned Down During George Floyd Protests

The body was found at the site of a Minneapolis pawnshop that was set on fire just days after the death of Mr. Floyd.

#arson, #black-lives-matter-movement, #bureau-of-alcohol-tobacco-firearms-and-explosives, #fires-and-firefighters, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #minneapolis-minn, #minnesota, #police-department-minneapolis-minn

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Finally, Some Good News (Carved From 90 Pounds of Butter)

The state fair is canceled because of the pandemic, but the tradition of sculpting a Minnesota dairy princess out of a block of Grade A salted butter will continue, with a few modifications.

#butter, #marling-karal-ann, #minnesota, #sculpture, #state-and-county-fairs

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What It’s Like to Enter the Work Force From Your Childhood Bedroom

They studied for years to get full-time jobs. Now, they’re right back where they started.

#colleges-and-universities, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #hiring-and-promotion, #indiana, #labor-and-jobs, #las-vegas-nev, #minnesota, #pennsylvania, #relocation-of-business, #telecommuting, #videophones-and-videoconferencing

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Bagged Salads Recalled After Hundreds Are Sickened in the Midwest

The C.D.C. urged consumers in eight states to avoid four different salad kits produced by Fresh Express.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #food-contamination-and-poisoning, #hy-vee-inc, #illinois, #iowa, #kansas, #lettuce, #midwestern-states-us, #minnesota, #missouri, #north-dakota, #recalls-and-bans-of-products, #salads, #wisconsin

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Her Olympic Dream on Hold, Teen Gymnast Faces Other Trials

Sunisa Lee had been ecstatic to return to her gym at the start of June. Then came tumult in Minnesota and the death of two close relatives. “I just want this year to be over. I’m so ready for 2021.”

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #gymnastics, #hmong-tribe, #lee-sunisa-2003, #minnesota, #olympic-games-2020, #quarantines

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Protesters Demanded Police Reform. Minnesota Lawmakers Left Without Passing a Bill.

The Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate, which had approved competing plans, failed to compromise before a weeklong special session ended.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #floyd-george-d-2020, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #minnesota, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-reform, #state-legislatures

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Calls for Transforming Police Run Into Realities of Governing in Minnesota

The Minneapolis City Council and Minnesota Legislature convened to consider sweeping changes to policing. Political and procedural hurdles are already apparent.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #floyd-george-d-2020, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #minneapolis-minn, #minnesota, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-minneapolis-minn, #police-reform

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Homesteading Today: Living on Free Land

A few lucky homeowners have either inherited land obtained through homestead acts or have claimed property in modern free land programs.

#coachella-valley-calif, #denali-national-park-alaska, #deserts, #land-use-policies, #minnesota, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential

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What’s Our Motto? Out of Many, One? Out of Many, None?

If we’re to thrive, our motto needs to be “Out of many, we.”

#constitutions, #democratic-party, #fukuyama-francis, #heritage-foundation, #james-kay-coles, #minnesota, #race-and-ethnicity, #republican-party, #slogans-and-mottoes, #trump-donald-j

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The Stories of Five Protesters

“Hate killed Mr. Floyd,” one said. “This kind of conduct has been allowed for far too long against people of color. And enough is enough.”

#black-people, #floyd-george-d-2020, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #minneapolis-minn, #minnesota, #police, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings

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An Interview with the Mayor of Minneapolis

“This is about a hundred years’ worth of intentional segregation and institutionalized racism.”

#black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #floyd-george-d-2020, #frey-jacob-1981, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #minneapolis-minn, #minnesota, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings

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When Art Is Medicine

In Ojibwe culture, music, dance and medicine are sources of healing.

#canada, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dancing, #epidemics, #great-lakes, #indigenous-people, #minnesota, #music, #north-america, #red-lake-nation, #university-of-minnesota, #vaccination-and-immunization, #women-and-girls

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Meat Plant Closures Mean Pigs Are Gassed or Shot Instead

Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants have created a backlog of animals ready for slaughter but with nowhere to go. Farmers are having to cull them.

#agriculture-and-farming, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #factory-farming, #iowa, #livestock, #meat, #midwestern-states-us, #minnesota, #pigs, #slaughterhouses, #suicides-and-suicide-attempts

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Fight Over Virus’s Death Toll Opens Grim New Front in Election Battle

Elements of the right have sought to bolster the President Trump’s political standing by turning scientific questions into political issues.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #democratic-party, #emanuel-ezekiel-j, #fauci-anthony-s, #fox-news-channel, #fringe-groups-and-movements, #global-warming, #heartland-institute, #hume-brit, #ingraham-laura-a, #jones-alex-1974, #mann-michael-e, #minnesota, #new-york-city, #oreskes-naomi, #point-of-view, #presidential-election-of-2020, #spicer-sean-m-1971, #trump-donald-j, #washington-dc

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In a potential big win for renewable energy, Form Energy gets its first grid-scale battery installation

Form Energy, which is developing what it calls ultra-low-cost, long-duration energy storage for the grid, has signed a contract with the Minnesota-based Great River Energy to develop a 1 megawatt, 150 megawatt hour pilot project.

The second-largest electric utility in the U.S., Great River Energy’s installation in Cambridge, Minn. will be the first commercial deployment of the venture-backed battery technology developer’s long-duration energy storage technology.

From Energy’s battery system is significant for its ability to deliver 1 megawatt of power for 150 hours — a huge leap over the lithium ion batteries currently in use for most grid-scale storage projects. Those battery systems can last for two- to four-hours.

The step change in the duration of energy delivery should allow energy storage projects to replace the peaking power plants that rely on coal and natural gas to smooth demand on the grid.

“Long duration energy storage solutions will play an entirely different role in a clean electricity system than the conventional battery storage systems being deployed at scale today,” said Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University who studies low-carbon energy systems engineering, in a statement. “Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, but they run out of energy after just a few hours. A true low-cost, long-duration energy storage solution that can sustain output for days, would fill gaps in wind and solar energy production that would otherwise require firing up a fossil-fueled power plant. A technology like that could make a reliable, affordable 100% renewable electricity system a real possibility,”

Backed with over $49 million in venture financing from investors including MIT’s The Engine investment vehicle; Eni Next, the corporate venture capital arm of the Italian energy firm Eni Spa, and the Bill Gates-backed sustainability focused investment firm, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Form Energy has developed a new storage technology called an “aqueous air” battery system.

“Our vision at Form Energy is to unlock the power of renewable energy to transform the grid with our proprietary long-duration storage. This project represents a bold step toward proving that vision of an affordable, renewable future is possible without sacrificing reliability,” said Mateo Jaramillo, the chief executive of Form Energy, in a statement.

Form’s pitch to utilities relies on more than just a groundbreaking energy storage technology, and includes an assessment of how best utilities can optimize their energy portfolios using a proprietary software analytics system. That software, was built to model high penetration renewables at a system level to figure out how storage can be combined with renewable energy to create a low-cost energy source that can deliver better returns to energy providers.

“Great River Energy is excited to partner with Form Energy on this important project. The electrical grid is increasingly supplied by renewable sources of energy. Commercially viable long-duration storage could increase reliability by ensuring that the power generated by renewable energy is available at all hours to serve our membership. Such storage could be particularly important during extreme weather conditions that last several days. Long-duration storage also provides an excellent hedge against volatile energy prices,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Power Supply Officer Jon Brekke, in a statement.

Ultimately, this deployment is intended to be the first of many installations of Form Energy’s battery systems, according to the statement from both companies.

“Long duration energy storage solutions will play an entirely different role in a clean electricity system than the conventional battery storage systems being deployed at scale today,” said Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University who studies low-carbon energy systems engineering, in a statement. “Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, but they run out of energy after just a few hours. A true low-cost, long-duration energy storage solution that can sustain output for days, would fill gaps in wind and solar energy production that would otherwise require firing up a fossil-fueled power plant. A technology like that could make a reliable, affordable 100% renewable electricity system a real possibility,”

#articles, #breakthrough-energy-ventures, #cambridge, #energy, #energy-storage, #minnesota, #mit, #natural-gas, #partner, #princeton-university, #renewable-energy, #tc, #united-states

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Land O’Lakes Removes Native American Woman From Its Products

The company, a farmer-owned cooperative formed in 1921, said it would replace the decades-old illustration with photos of its members on some products.

#american-psychological-assn, #containers-and-packaging, #mascots, #minnesota, #native-americans

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You Can’t Go Anywhere, but Ads Still Promise Retreats

Property owners are trying to lure buyers and renters in the grip of cabin fever, but experts and state and local leaders say escaping anywhere is fraught with danger.

#advertising-and-marketing, #airbnb, #arkansas, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #craigslist, #minnesota, #montana, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #online-advertising, #quarantines, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate, #travel-and-vacations

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FDA authorizes production of a new ventilator that costs up to 25x less than existing devices

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the manufacture of the Coventor ventilator, a new hardware design first developed by the University of Minnesota. The project sought to create a ventilator that could provide the same level of life-saving care as existing ventilator models, but with a much lower cost to help ramp production quickly and make them affordable to the health institutions that need them.

The Coventor becomes the first of these types of novel ventilator designs to earn an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA. Just like it sounds, an EUA isn’t a full traditional medical device approval like the drug and device regulator would ordinarily issue, but an emergency, temporary grant in the interest of helping provide access to resources in short supply, or without the usual full chain of approvals, in times of crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic is potentially the best example of such a crisis in modern memory, and the respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 requires treatment including intubation and ventilator breathing support for the most severe cases. Ventilator hardware has been in short supply given the volume of cases, both in the U.S. and abroad, and a number of solutions have been proposed including new hardware designs and modifications to other types of medical breathing apparatus to account for the gap.

U of M’s Coventor, developed with a team including engineering and medical school faculty, is a desktop-sized device that costs around $1,000 to produce, making it a much more viable alternative if sold at cost to medical facilities when compared to the $20,000 to $25,000 retail price of your average existing hospital-grade ventilator hardware.

Both medical device maker Medtronic (the company that’s also working with Tesla on its ventilator manufacturing plans) and Boston Scientific (which will be producing the Coventor for distribution following this approval) contributed to the development of the design. The University also announced today that it would be making the Coventor’s specs open-source so that it can be manufactured globally, provided other companies seek and secure similar approvals from the FDA and relevant international health authorities.

#biotech, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #food-and-drug-administration, #gadgets, #hardware, #health, #medical-device, #medicine, #medtronic, #minnesota, #science, #tc, #tesla, #united-states, #university-of-minnesota

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