Dortmund, 28 August 2020 – Even though it’s not quite on the market yet, word has got around in political circles that there is a new wonder product in Dortmund. Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister for Education and Research, joined Dortmund mayoral candidate Dr Andreas Hollstein to find out what is behind the latest development from ICA.
Right at the start of the visit they were greeted by Stefan Walko, COO at ICA, who welcomed them, in his words, to “what is probably the most thoroughly disinfected room in Germany.” After a brief presentation of the company, the focus quickly switched to the new HERO21 disinfection robot – hailed as a wonder product.
The HERO21 is a disinfection robot which moves autonomously through a room and uses UVC radiation to destroy any microbes present, whether in the air or on surfaces. And it doesn’t just keep us safe from the Coronavirus – it eliminates all of the viruses and bacteria found in hospitals, including multiresistant microbes, that have long posed a serious risk to patients and staff.
The Minister gave her take on the invention: “The Coronavirus will probably not be the last pandemic we have to face. We urgently need new methods of disinfection. And innovations like this also create new jobs, which makes them an important factor for our economic well-being. Regardless of the election campaign, we have to bring these inventions into the public spotlight, because they can give everyone in our society a sense of hope for the future.”
So, how is it that a market leader in the ticketing industry is now making disinfection robots? The answer is simple – the drive to develop new approaches was accelerated by the Coronavirus. Engineer Heinz Sander, owner of ICA, had already been working on new disinfection solutions, initially conceived for use in public transport, since 2019. While 2019 saw the advent of the first UVC devices in Asia and the USA, these products didn’t meet the German standards. The challenge of taking this approach to the next level gave birth to the idea of developing a scientifically proven UVC disinfection robot. The aim was, first and foremost, to come up with a product for use in European hospitals, as this is where the highest standards of disinfection need to be met. A device that is able to be used in the healthcare industry would easily meet the requirements for other possible settings, such as in airports, at trade fairs or on public transport. “It was clear to us that hospitals had a much greater need for a device of this kind, because of the sheer volume of pathogens that converge in this setting – in Germany alone 400,000 to 600,000 patients contract infections in hospitals each year, resulting in up to 20,000 deaths,” explained Heinz Sander in conversation with the Minister.
ICA plans to help alleviate this problem, using the robot to set new standards. To ensure right from the start that the efficacy of the device could be scientifically proven, it was developed in collaboration with the Chair of General Electrical Engineering and Plasma Technology at the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB). After a pilot scheme at the Bochum University Hospital to be launched in September, the device is set to go on sale in October.
Image ©ICA (Ida Andrae): Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister (CDU, front right), Heinz Sander, CEO and owner, ICA (back, right), Dr Andreas Hollstein, mayoral candidate (back, middle), Matthias Nienhoff, candidate for the Dortmund City Council (back, left) Stefan Walko, COO, ICA (front left)