Innovative Victorian companies have drawn upon their strengths and capabilities to help tackle the challenges faced in Australia by coronavirus.

Ego Pharmaceuticals – increasing capacity to meet Australia's demand for sanitising products

Ego Pharmaceuticals are the manufacturers of Aqium sanitiser, a hospital-grade hand sanitiser that's being prioritised to those working in the hospital and aged care sector, the most vulnerable in our community.

They've ramped up production at their Melbourne factory to produce as much Aqium as possible with the resources at hand. "We are also working hard to source more raw materials and packaging to increase our output" said Ego Managing Director, Alan Oppenheim. “In February we made five times what we forecast and our factory is now running 24 hours a day, five days a week,” said Oppenheim. “We’re currently hiring to increase that to six days a week and we’ve stopped exporting to prioritise Australian needs.”

Sources: Ego Pharmaceuticals: https://www.egopharm.com/au/en/about-us/company-news/news-news-list-page/covid-19-response-ego.html viewed 15 April 2020 / Karen Andrews Media Release: Government working with industry on hand sanitiser production: https://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ministers/karenandrews/media-releases/government-working-industry-hand-sanitiser-production viewed 15 April 2020


Nobody Denim turning to developing medical products to meet growing demand

Melbourne company, Nobody Denim held discussions with the Federal Government recently to convert its factory to manufacture facial masks and surgical-grade gowns.

Co-founder, John Condilis said his factory – located in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury – had the capacity to manufacture 12,000 masks and up to 5000 surgical gowns per week. It currently makes about 3000 pairs of denim jeans with 50 garment machinists in the same time frame.

Staff at the Nobody factory have made some mask prototypes, and Condilis said securing PPE work could save jobs.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald - Fashion Brands Line Up to Make Protective Gear in Warlike Effort  https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/fashion-brands-line-up-to-make-protective-gear-in-war-like-effort-20200325-p54dvz.html- viewed 15 April 2020


Four Pillars – using by-product to make hand sanitiser

Regional Victoria company, Four Pillars Gin distillery are producing hand sanitiser to help meet national demand, and keep their staff in work. Co-founder, Stuart Gregor says the business is bracing for “huge drop off” in its wholesale business as major hotel groups and restaurants also close.

The company, located in Healsville, is now part-owned by drinks giant Lion and employs about 60 full-time equivalent staff. Gregor says producing a range of Four Pillars hand sanitiser will allow the company to keep people employed in bottling, packaging and logistics.

Gregor, who also chairs the Australian Distillers Association, which represents about 200 craft distillers, says a number of Australian spirit makers have been approached about producing hand sanitiser by hospitals, healthcare professionals, governments and, of course, consumers, as shortages of the product continue across the country.

“We’ve all been firing off all sorts of recipes and we’ve all agreed on the World Health Organisation-approved one, which is used by medical professionals,” he says.

Four Pillars has produced products using this recipe and the first stock was made available to healthcare professionals last month.

“In a small industry, we’re probably the largest [producer], and therefore probably in as good a position as any to turn on as much as we can,” said Gregor.

Source: Smart Company https://www.smartcompany.com.au/coronavirus/australian-gin-distilleries-hand-sanitiser-covid19/- viewed 15 April 2020


Arnsdorf shifts its focus to manufacturing medical products

Melbourne-based founder of sustainable fashionn brand, Arnsdorf, Jade Sarita Arnott has joined the fashion movement to fight against coronavirus with its production force.

“Our mission has always been to keep the people creating our garments safe and we've achieved this by taking control of our supply chain and manufacturing almost all of our products from our factory in Collingwood.

“We are currently in talks with the Australian Government, through our partner Ethical Clothings Australia, to see if we can redirect our manufacturing efforts towards the production of medical clothing and essential items, which we believe are a much worthier risk to take during this time.” said Arnott.

Source: Ragtrader http://www.ragtrader.com.au/news/arnsdorf-is-creating-a-brave-new-strategy- viewed 15 April 2020

Arnsdorf featured in Global Victoria's contribution for the 2020 Virigin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. The event was a curated edit from the collections of pioneering Victorian fashion designers.


Gekko and Grey Innovation respond to demand for ventilators

Richmond-based company, Grey Innovation is well advanced in establishing a local consortium to manufacture ventilators. The company has secured a licence from a leading global manufacturer to develop the life-saving machines in Australia and is now working with local suppliers and a network of world-class engineering and advanced manufacturing operators to advance the project.

Ballarat-based Gekko Systems ventilator, or "GeVentor" is a collaborative based project located in the regional city of Ballarat. Michael Poulton, CEO of the Committee for Ballarat, is playing a lead role in facilitating local, regional and national skills and capability. Local clinician, anaesthetist Doug Paxton, has been integral in the design of the prototype. Ballarat is fortunate in having a world class local hospital and medical network.

The company has established a rapid response project team who will commence work over the Easter break to accelerate critical path outcomes. These include the final product testing, supply strategies and TGA approvals required to safely bring this product to market1.

1. https://www.gekkos.com/news/victorian-state-government-funds-gekko-systems-advance-ventilator-production-plans - viewed 15 April 2020