An entrepreneurial duo is in talks with Victoria and New South Wales state governments to establish a production factory for their new military-grade, reusable and environmentally-friendly, Australian designed protective masks.
Adrian Critchlow, co-founder of Booking.com, and Mehdi Qerim, Managing Director of Solid Foundation Investments, are in the final stages of settling on a location for their multi-functional and environmentally friendly protective face covering.
Mechanical engineer and clean-tech investor Critchlow told Epoch Times that both are keen to commence production as soon as possible, “we’ve narrowed it down to two sites, one in Ballarat and one in Adelong for our manufacturing base,” he said. There is also interest from “governments about their requirements in terms of emergency services, and we’re talking to a number of corporates.”
Ambulance services in Victoria and NSW have already agreed to trial their masks.
Made In Australia
Developing an all Australian supply chain was important for the ActiveMasks co-founders who note the need for masks will not dissipate until the pandemic ends.
“Australians, particularly Victorians, will be required to wear masks for some time into the future. It will remain a critical piece of equipment for many years on the other side of the current COVID-19 crisis,” said Critchlow
“ActiveMask will be entirely designed and constructed right here in Victoria. It is important that Australia develops its own supply pipeline for sophisticated, protective masks,” Qerim said.
The friends also have plans to take their product global.
“We have already had enquiries from the UK, United States and Asia, so we see a sizable export opportunity for a quality manufactured Australian mask,” they said
ActiveMask will use an automated manufacturing process and expects to generate hundreds of jobs at the new site.
Critchlow said the balance of automated machinery and labour enables them to compete with low-labour-force countries.
Inspired by Loss
The co-founders set out to create a long-lasting, reuseable mask after Critchlow’s elderly father lost his life due to COVID-19. At the aged care home, he saw first hand how concerning face-covering standards were for health care workers.
“Many single-use and fabric mask designs have significant drawbacks that limit their efficacy putting the wearer at potential risk, and they are made of melt-blown plastic, which ends up in landfill or our waterways,” he noted.
“We’re already seeing hundreds of them being audited and removed from Australia’s register of therapeutic goods given they don’t adequately prevent infection,” Critchlow said.
The experience inspired him and friend Qerim to develop a mask suitable for a variety of infectious diseases and other life–threatening situations, including bushfires.
Their product named ActiveMask, partly developed with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is made up of two layers: an activated carbon layer—originally designed for the British army for nuclear biological and chemical warfare—combined with a P2/N95 filter, made of wool currently processed in New Zealand, which was created for NASA personnel. In addition, its medical-grade silicone straps are designed for all-day comfort Critchlow explained.
The masks are also environmentally conscious with the company not using plastic materials in the construction of the ActiveMask, instead relying on silicone.
Currently in Australia Victorians have been required to wear a mask when in public since July while in New South Wales and Queensland mask-wearing has been encouraged to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
When asked about this, Critchlow said, “We’re pleased that the government has recognised the fact that having masks is a good step … masks that fit well is a crucial step.”
Retail value of ActiveMask is estimated by the founders to be under $100.