Combatting COVID-19: $50m in funding available to automotive suppliers

Hamilton, Ontario ⁠— Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGEN), the organization leading Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, is investing $50 million to support companies as they prepare to produce critically needed technologies and medical products to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

NGen’s program will fund projects that involve accelerated production of products in short supply, including virus screening test kits, gloves, gowns, masks, and other personal protective equipment, hospital equipment such as ventilators and peripherals, as well as cleaning and sterilization chemicals and equipment. 

Projects will be selected for funding according to critical needs identified by the Government of Canada and the ability of manufacturers to produce products that are safe for both patients and health care workers. 

The planned projects are expected to have “an immediate impact in the next four to 12 weeks,” said the company. 

Companies looking for support in launching the production of critical products to fight COVID-19 can indicate their interest at www.ngen.ca/covid-19-response. 

Further, NGen is seeking any experts who are able to assist are also encouraged to share their capabilities with at www.ngen.ca/covid-19-response. 

Manufacturers have been ramping up supply efforts in the last week. 3M has doubled the production amounts of its N95 respirations, now producing the masks at a rate of 1.1 billion per year or nearly 100 million per month. 

The move came the same day Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association president Flavio Volpe issued a call-to-action for the industry to provide medical equipment for those on the front lines. On Tuesday morning the organization also launched what it calls the One Million Mask Challenge; it’s asking its members—of which there are close to 300—to donate face masks to local hospitals, clinics and shelters.

General Motors Canada is collecting and donating personal protective equipment to help Canada’s front line health-care workers in the fight against the global novel coronavirus pandemic–and is encouraging those with the facilities to do so to follow in its footsteps. The automaker said late Tuesday that it is asking its suppliers and dealers to donate medical-grade N95 face masks, safety glasses and goggles, gowns and coveralls, gloves and hand sanitizer.

On Monday, FCA said it would manufacturer masks in the Asian market for distribution in the United States and Canada, where there is currently a shortage of personal protective equipment. Ford also plans to build respirators, ventilators and face shields in partnership with its UAW workforce, manufacturing company 3M and GE Healthcare to aid medical workers as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to overwhelm their supply. Volkswagen Group said on Friday it was also joining other manufacturers around the world to explore using 3D printing to make hospital ventilators to combat the coronavirus.

Local businesses from coast to coast are also participating in relief efforts. Joe Logel, the owner of Speedy Collision Guelph, recently donated all of its extra masks to a local hospital⁠—and is encouraging other shops to do the same.

Click here to learn more about APMA’s One Million Mask challenge.

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