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Reshaping the national PPE supply chain

5 January 2021

2 minutes to read

Reshaping the national PPE supply chain

Shortly after the start of the first national lockdown, it became apparent PPE equipment was going to become a vital yet rare commodity for care homes, hospitals, and businesses alike. The demand for face masks, protective equipment and disinfecting products skyrocketed, which put a lot of strain on the existing supply chains for these goods. As legacy supply chains collapsed, buyers and suppliers lost their usual connections, finding themselves at a loss.

That’s where Devon-based procurement company Applegate came in. CEO Stuart Brocklehurst quickly realised that the Applegate platform would be perfectly placed to link PPE customers with PPE suppliers. Since 2018, Applegate has been working with University of Exeter academics Dr Fabrizio Costa and Professor Richard Everson on a variety of projects, including the development of a Machine Learning-based system that matches buyers with suppliers.

Using the expertise gained through the partnership with Exeter, Applegate decided to set up the Covid-19 PPE Supply Hub. Over one weekend, the team at Applegate pivoted their offering to match businesses in need with suppliers of PPE and disinfecting products, facilitating business continuity throughout lockdown.

Within days the platform was up and running and it quickly proved to be an astounding success. During the first lockdown alone, this free-of-charge service facilitated the delivery of over 100 million items of PPE and disinfectant products to businesses, including NHS Trusts, local authorities, care homes, and restaurants.

Stephen Roberts, Chief Executive of North Devon Hospice, said, “It’s only thanks to [Applegate’s] supply that our staff here can continue to look after our patients during Covid-19.”

This successful initiative was cited by local MP Selaine Saxby in the House of Commons as an example of good corporate practice, and recently won the 2020 Tech South West Hero Award.

Applegate and the University of Exeter have recently won government funding to turn the Covid-19 Hub into a stable, regional supply hub which is expected to be of significant local economic value as we transition out of the pandemic.


For more information please contact:

Marina Altoè
Impact and Partnership Development Officer


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