UK F1 teams work together on Project Pitlane to help doctors and nurses communicate better while wearing PPE

Project Pitlane

Project Pitlane, which is a collective of seven UK-based Formula 1 teams brought together to bring F1 know-how to medical challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, have created a new device that enables doctors and nurses to communicate better while wearing full PPE, with prototypes cases produced at the Alpine F1 team’s Enstone factory in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire accountants Whitley Stimpson advised Project Pitlane on grant funding for the project’s key device called MedicCom.

Project Pitlane, Innova Technology, and the University of Leicester worked together to create a new device that enables doctors and nurses to communicate better while wearing full PPE, with prototypes cases produced at the Alpine F1 team’s Enstone factory in Oxfordshire.

Head-to toe PPE worn by medical staff treating patients with Covid-19 and other infectious diseases has meant that doctors and nurses regularly have to shout to be heard, which is not only exhausting, but can cause errors of miscommunication which could potentially harm patients.

MedicCom uses a throat microphone to amplify sound and help patients hear doctors and nurses, while also helping doctors and nurses hear each other more clearly, thus avoiding miscommunication and preventing staff from straining their voices. A Bluetooth connection links to mobile phones, enabling staff to have a hands-free telephone conversation with a patient’s relatives.

It has been funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Innovate UK with Whitley Stimpson assisting with the required Independent Accountant’s Reports.

The prototype devices have been positively evaluated by clinicians in Leicester’s Hospitals, and by the Medical Devices Technology Evaluation Centre in Birmingham. The team behind the design are now seeking additional funding to roll out the devices across the NHS. Nine prototypes’ cases were subsequently produced using rapid prototype machines at Alpine F1 Team’s UK headquarters in Enstone, Oxford.

Project Pitlane, which unites on-track competitors and personnel from across F1 and motorsport, was created in March 2020 to answer the UK government’s call to collaborate and produce essential supplies in the fight against Covid-19.  It relies on expertise and goodwill throughout the industry to assist multiple organisations with engineering challenges and deliver an end product or service for the greater good.

Project Pitlane was born in 2020 and Whitley Stimpson quickly partnered with the new company to provide support from its inception.

Ian Parker, director Whitley Stimpson explains: “When Bob approached me to discuss Project Pitlane it was at a time when it was becoming apparent that the NHS needed additional support to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. This project sounded as though it could provide a very useful solution to a problem that I hadn’t even considered. As such, I was delighted to partner with Project Pitlane and assist with the compliance requirements attached to the UK grant funding that they had received on a pro-bono basis. As accountants it is quite unusual to be involved in projects that can deliver so much good for the public and I was pleased to help.”

Bob Bell, strategic advisor Alpine Racing said: “We would like to thank Whitley Stimpson for their support in advising on the grant compliance for Project Pitlane in the development of the MedicCom device. It has also been a pleasure to work with the university to develop a novel medical communications device to assist NHS clinicians wearing PPE.”