01/20/2015 12:10 EST | Updated 03/22/2015 05:59 EDT

UBC engineers develop new way to use power drills as surgical tools in Uganda

A team of biomedical engineers from the University of British Columbia is developing a new way for surgeons in developing countries to use power drills as surgical tools.

The instrument, which was first developed for surgeons in Uganda, has a medical-grade, sterilized fabric that fits over regular hardware store drills.

The idea is one of five ventures that are part of a mentorship and development program run by the Sauder School of Business at UBC.

Florin Gheorghe with Arbutus Medical — the startup created by UBC engineers who developed the drill — said the idea helps prevent infections while making surgeries in conflict zones cheaper and more efficient. 

The kit costs around $2,000 compared to a surgical drill that can cost $30,000. 

"We developed the drill cover, which is a completely sealed, sterile barrier that basically you can put that so-called dirty hardware store drill inside of, and it fully encloses it and it makes it safe to use in a sterile clean surgical environment 
on a patient."

He says the product is being tested in hospitals around the world including locations in Uganda and Ukraine.