Leon Alkalai of JPL will give tips on how to pivot business opportunities to meet new demands during a presentation called “The JPL VITAL Ventilator Project: A successful rapid response design and prototyping Effort” on June 19.
Alkalai who spearheaded the efforts of JPL to develop ventilators to help out with the COVID-19 pandemic has amazing credentials. He is a Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (2005) is a JPL Fellow (2014). He is manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Partnership and is responsible for developing the long-term strategic plan for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In 1989, he received his PhD in Computer Science from UCLA and has been working at JPL ever since. He has been awarded the NASA Individual Distinguished Achievement Medal (2012) and the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal (2019).
In March it was clear the country needed help to meet demand for ventilators. By April with the assistance of physicians treating COVID-19 patients, a group of JPL engineers prototyped two different designs focused on requirements defined by the respiratory experts.
They tested the prototype at the frontline of the pandemic at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, submitted the design to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization, and showcased the prototype at the White House to the President of the United States. The JPL team obtained FDA/EUA, and issued a global royalty free license, and received more than 100 applicants world-wide… all in less than 2 months.
Alkalai who was integral to the efforts, has consulted for numerous start-up and investment institutions since 2001. In 2014 he co-founded Verrix, a medical device company focusing on hospital medical equipment sterilization assurance using technologies that were created to keep Mars free from contamination from Earth.
He is also the founder of AstroLabs Enterprises, LLC which performs consulting services to the commercial space industry and is an incubator for new commercial ventures in the commercial space sector. AstroLabs consults for multiple Venture Capital groups in the LA, New York and in the Silicon Valley areas.