Kashmiri innovator makes oxygen concentrator prototype

‘We all think of COVID as a personal matter now’
Kashmiri innovator makes oxygen concentrator prototype

Amid the second deadly wave of Covid-19, when thousands of patients across India are gasping for oxygen, a Kashmiri innovator, hailing from Watapora in north Kashmir's district Bandipora, has made a prototype of an oxygen concentrator.

Muhammad Ismail Mir (Jameel) 60, from north Kashmir's Bandipora has been working on this for months and finally he says the prototype is ready. He is now waiting for an expert opinion and value addition to his innovation.

"I made this oxygen concentrator as there is immense demand for it due to COVID. We need to pre-plan to deal with COVID and our preparations are not upto the mark. So I thought that when it's imported from China, it takes a lot of time and if some company starts making it here, I have made a prototype," Muhammad Ismail Mir, an Innovator, told Greater Kashmir.

Mir says that his prototype is a cheaper version of what is available in the market. He says if given the go-ahead, it would be affordable and people who find concentrators in the market expensive would be able to buy it. It might cost around Rs 15,000.

"I have made a similar prototype with the same technology but this one is going to be very cheap so that it can be used in hospitals and homes also," Mir, says.

Mir is a high school dropout. He left studies after his class 12 and since then he has been making new innovations.

During the pandemic he has made a disinfectant tunnel, he also made a touchless sanitising machine and later went on to make a ventilator.

Although he says that the government has not helped him as much as he deserved. But his friends have decided to set up a lab worth Rs 5 lakh at his house.

'Incubating innovations'

Mir asked how could have predicted that 2020 would have unfolded the way it has? Everyone has had to adapt their business in ways nobody could have planned. Uncertainty has become the environment we must learn to thrive in. But, necessity is the mother of invention and businesses need invention now more than ever.

"There are many ways to encourage innovation, but it's important to have a process to harness these ideas and turn them into reality. By stimulating innovation and creativity in the workplace, you can also increase your ability to attract and retain talent," he says.

"The innovation process encourages collaboration among team members and supports an environment in which creative thinking is unleashed."

Mir opined that when good ideas emerge, corporations often fail to capitalise on them and translate them into viable solutions. "Almost every organisation recognises the need for innovation, but many inadvertently stifle innovation with traditional thinking.

Others may get bogged down in the rationale behind new ideas, forgetting that the cost of not innovating outweighs the costs of introducing them."

"We all think of COVID-19 as a personal matter now, even if we're people outside of the healthcare industry. When the entire global population is worried about the same pandemic, that reality is likely to change individual and organisational behaviour and make access to quality healthcare itself considerably more important. COVID-19 really has made healthcare everybody's business," Mir says.

 'Science and innovation'

Key innovator and researcher, Dr. Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad argues innovation may mitigate the global COVID crisis. He said in recent decades, we have made remarkable advances in global health and wellbeing and lifted millions of people out of poverty. This progress has been due in large part to science, innovation and research and few countries have played a leading role.

From advances in agriculture to the global spread of the internet, mobile and satellite connectivity, developed nations have contributed significantly through transformative interdisciplinary research.

The COVID-19 outbreak has had dire economic consequences. It triggered the direst global economic consequences since the South Sea Bubble burst in 1720. In India, for example, the virus's second wave is deadlier than the first. People are gasping for air. Lifesaving medical equipment is running short. Formal innovations, it looks, are not sufficient to meet the requirements of hospitals. 

He said that for many development economists, innovation is the biggest story of the last 200 years. Economic transformation has come not from trade or exploitation but from innovation. The mainstream innovation literature defines innovation as anything 'new' which creates economic value— essentially novelty being exploited in the 'market'. Ahmad, who has worked in the field of innovation studies since 2006, said that innovation does not always involve radical creations like a COVID-19 vaccine; it also includes incremental improvements, such as PPE kits or developing a manual ventilator or an oxygen concentrator using old car parts by applying the process of bricolage and frugality.

"We would be remiss to only consider universities, labs, and big science as innovation hubs. Historical breakthroughs like the spinning wheel, flying machine or steam engine did not come from scientists or marquee innovators but from people with no 'scientific' backgrounds," he says.

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