Act Fast
Deploy Locally

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenging for Africa, not only from the risk of the disease, but also, exposing the fragility of existing supply chains across sectors. There is a global shortage of basic medical commodities such as PPE, has challenged us to act fast and think locally. Gearbox incubates and engineers have been innovating to add value in fighting the pandemic.




MedDevice is an medical device startup incubated at Gearbox. It is developing a proportional assist ventilator that can respond automatically to patients needs. The unit is going though the final validation check by the Kenya Bureau of Standard and other regulating boards. This is necessary before the start of medical trials.
The Medevice ventilator control unit prototype
An engineer working on the Oxygen Concentrator prototype.


Fedha Electric is an electronics hardware startup based out of Gearbox. The company designs, and implements hardware such as PLC controllers and speed governors. The design of the oxygen concentrator is required to provided 5 liters of air per minute with an oxygen concentration greater than 85% and at have a vacuum outlet pressure of 70 kPa. The unit will be able to display the Oxygen concentration of inspired gas via an Android based control display. The concentrator will have a battery backup of at least 4 hours in the event of a power outage. Save for the necessary clinical grade sensors, this design uses materials that are in the local supply chain.


Blink Electronics is a hardware startup based at Gearbox Kenya. With over 5 years experience, Blink Electronics engineers strive for innovative solution to local problems.
With hand washing being one of the key COVID-19 preventative measures, a solution was needed to solve the problem of touching taps after washing hand clean. This is especially critical in public space such as restaurants, supermarkets, etc. This planted the idea of contactless automatic hand washing station in the mind of Blink Electronics, engineer Peter Mbari.
The station uses a sensor to sense when a patron has placed their hands in the handwash station. The station then automatically dispenses soap and sufficient water to met the WHO (World Health Organization) 20 second handwashing guideline. This process solves many of the pitfalls of current hand washing stations :

Touching taps after washing hands, hence creating re-infection scenarios

  • Efficient use of water by only providing the right amount of water for the specified duration.
  • Efficient dispensing of soap, reducing financial burden of supplies.
  • Low cost as all the materials for the hand wash station are available locally.

Peter has also designed a foot operated hand-wash station for areas that do not have a steady supply of electricity to operate the sensor.

Blink Engineer, Peter Mbari, shows of the Contactless Automatic Hand Washer.
Pulse Oximeter prototype schematic.


Gearbox Academy provides a platform for innovators graduating from technical institutions with hands-on training to allow them be market ready and apply already acquired knowledge. The academy also provides non-academic technicians, craftsmen and tinkerers to utilize tools that aid their innovation/products improve in quality and save on time and resources. The academy staff have answered the call for local innovation to solve some of the challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An oximeter is a device that indirectly monitors a patient’s oxygen saturation (SpO2), changes in volume and pulse. In the case of Covid- 19, it can be used to assess the efficiency of a ventilator and whether a patient needs a ventilator.

When an oximeter is attached to a finger, toe or earlobe, a photosensor shines infrared LED through skin to measure the difference in absorbed light in red blood cells. It then measures changes of light absorption in oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. The difference in these two parameters indicates oxygen saturation levels. All oximeters used in the Kenya and East Africa are imported, so there’s a huge market for a low cost locally manufactured device.