coronavirus watch

Texas company making low-cost ventilation helmets sees growing demand amid COVID-19 pandemic

The device could help alleviate a worldwide shortage of ventilators. Photo courtesy of Sea-Long

A company based in Waxahachie, Texas, is making a promising ventilation helmet for coronavirus cases that has become in demand around the world.

Sea-Long Medical Systems Inc., which has been manufacturing hyperbaric oxygen hoods since 1985, has a spacesuit-like helmet that could help alleviate the worldwide shortage of ventilators needed by patients suffering from COVID-19.

The device consists of a transparent hood with two tubes extending from its base that can be connected to an oxygen supply. It has great potential because it could be used as a stopgap to free up ventilators for patients who are critically ill.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients who used them required ventilation 18.2 percent of the time, compared to 61.5 percent who wore oxygen masks. Helmet-wearing patients also had a better survival rate.

According to NBC News, Sea-Long is getting thousands of orders every day from hospitals in America and around the world. Doctors in Italy have found it effective in helping some patients with breathing problems.

And the Sea-Long helmet is only $162, compared to the $25,000 to $50,000 cost of a hospital-grade ventilator.

Virgin Galactic, which has been proactive on the manufacture of ventilation devices, has lent financial assistance including buying equipment, but Sea-Long is still shipping a limited number helmets per order. They've received orders from Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

"'Overwhelmed' doesn't scratch the surface," Sea-Long founder Chris Austin told NBC News.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

BUCHA BIO has raised over $1 million to grow its team, build a new headquarters, and accelerate its go-to-market strategy. Image courtesy of BUCHA BIO

A Houston company that has created a plant-based material that can replace unsustainable conventional leathers and plastics has announced the close of its oversubscribed seed funding round.

BUCHA BIO announced it's raised $1.1 million in seed funding. The round included participation from existing partners New Climate Ventures, Lifely VC, and Beni VC, as well as from new partners Prithvi VC, Asymmetry VC, and investors from the Glasswall Syndicate, including Alwyn Capital, as well as Chris Zarou, CEO & Founder of Visionary Music Group and manager of multi-platinum Grammy-nominated rapper, Logic, the startup reports in a news release.

“I’m excited to back BUCHA BIO’s amazing early market traction," Zarou says in the release. "Their next-gen bio-based materials are game-changing, and their goals align with my personal vision for a more sustainable future within the entertainment industry and beyond.”

The company, which relocated its headquarters from New York to Houston in February, was founded by Zimri T. Hinshaw in 2020 and is based out of the East End Makers Hub and Greentown Houston.

BUCHA BIO has created two bio-based materials using bacterial nanocellulose and other plant-based components. The two materials are SHORAI, which can be used as a leather alternative, and HIKARI, a translucent material that is expected to be formally introduced in November.

The fresh funding will help the company to accelerate its move into the marketplace next year by securing co-manufacturers to scale production. Additionally, the company is growing its team and is hiring for a new supply chain lead as well as some technician roles.

Per the release, BUCHA BIO is working on constructing a new headquarters in Houston that will house a materials development laboratory, prototype manufacturing line, and offices.

BUCHA BIO has the potential to impact several industries from fashion and automotive to construction and electronics. According to the Material Innovation Initiative, the alternative materials industry has seen an increased level of interest from investors who have dedicated over $2 billion into the sector since 2015.

“The time for rapid growth for biomaterials is now," says repeat investor Eric Rubenstein, founding managing partner at Houston-based New Climate Ventures, in the release. "BUCHA BIO's team and technical development are advancing hand in hand with the demands of brand partnerships, and we are excited to support them as they capitalize on this global opportunity.”

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