W.L. Gore and Associates:
Enterprise Response to COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities around the world, Gore have worked hard to identify ways in which they can apply their materials, science expertise and production capabilities to help during this time of need. They are committed to doing what they can, where they can, in a manner that has the greatest value for those on the front lines of addressing this crisis and within communities.
Several initiatives are underway that bring together the knowledge, skills and capabilities from across Gore’s Enterprise. Many of these efforts arose from either the needs of healthcare providers, Gore customers, communities, the personal initiative of their Associates, or as innovative ideas put forward through a crowdsourcing effort amongst more than 10,500 Associates from around the world.
Through Gore innovation
For example, as an immediate and initial response to the PPE shortage, Gore rapidly engineered prototype reusable mask covers to supplement clinicians’ primary face masks. These covers, developed by a cross-divisional team, are made from a material that:
• is a proprietary Gore high-flow filtration laminate
• provides greater than 99% aerosolized virus particle protection
• is water repellent yet air permeable, and
• can be reused after autoclave or EtO sterilization
This effort went from a product concept to prototypes in less than one week. Gore currently have prototypes being evaluated at a limited number of U.S. facilities in COVID-19 outbreak hot spots. Based on feedback from those piloting the prototype, they intend to optimize the PPE Protector design and then scale up production for broader distribution. Gore hears the pleas for help and will continue to do everything they can to protect those on the front-line of this global health crisis.
Working with others
Whilst there is much Gore can do as an Enterprise, they are set to achieve more, on a larger scale, through collaboration with others. Gore is a materials science company, and, for the most part, the creation of finished PPE products is not their core competency. By providing its customers and other manufacturing companies with Gore’s highly specialized component materials, which can used to produce a variety of finished items, together Gore and their trademarked licenced manufacturing partners can supply even more health care providers with sorely needed items.
Examples of other initiatives underway include:
• Protective medical gowns, using fabrics laminates from Gore’s current inventory
• Universal filter cartridge prototypes for use in respirators, hoods and ventilators that incorporate Gore’s filtration materials intended to provide N95 particulate protection
• Disposable N95 respirators, using Gore’s filtration laminates
It is through these collaborations with those who have the technical capabilities and production capacity needed to produce the finished goods in volume that together, they are truly improving life.
Within Gore communities
They continue to engage in their local communities to support fellow Associates, friends and neighbours. In places like Flagstaff, Arizona, and Newark, Delaware, where Gore have significant U.S. operations, they are in direct dialogue with local health care providers to determine how they can help. In locations where they had inventory of medical supplies and protective gear typically used for manufacturing, R&D and technical case support purposes available, Gore have donated those items locally to healthcare workers serving the communities in which they operate. In addition Gore have provided engineering and prototyping support to address other urgent equipment needs at local hospitals serving Gore communities.
Some of the buildings that house Associates who are not essential to current operations or are otherwise unoccupied during the operational shut-down have been offered to local health departments and government crisis response teams as additional space to conduct their work. The availability of such space varies by region, but Gore are making their facilities accessible whenever they can with the hope it provides much needed support.
As global citizens, Gore feel a responsibility to contribute their time, tools and talent to the fight against COVID-19. As members of the communities in which they operate, Gore share a deep commitment to protect those who are working hard to protect everyone. It is in this spirit that Gore actively pursues these opportunities to help, even as they continue to search for new and innovative ways to address further critical needs.