Yusuf Bilesanmi: Story of Nigerian Scientist who invented a Non-electric Ventilator.

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In this episode, we have an amazing story to tell about Yusuf Bilesanmi, a Nigerian tech entrepreneur who went from dropping out of LASU to becoming the first recipient of the “One-to-Watch” Award during the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation event. His invention, ShiVent, is a ventilator for patients with respiratory difficulties (as in COVID-19). In an interview with The Punch, he described it as low-cost, non-electric and non-invasive.


Name: Yusuf Oladipupo Bilesanmi.
Year of Birth: 1986
Home Town: Ogun State.
Birth City: Lagos.
Education: APU & Waseda University ( both in JAPAN), Loughborough University (England).
Founded: Eja-Ice, Shifa Technologies.

Yusuf Bilesanmi giving a speech at UNOC.
Yusuf Bilesanmi giving a speech at UNOC.


During the 1998/99 transition of Nigeria to a democratic system, Yusuf was just about leave secondary school. He told his parents of his intents to study Law in the University, hoping that through Law he could make a significant contribution to Nigeria’s new legal system. In 2000, Yusuf gained admission to study Law at the Lagos State University, Ojo. Before he finished his degree, in 2005, he discovered that he could make more impact if he was in the IT industry.

“I wanted to live an impactful life so I told myself I would love to focus on IT if that would be where I could do more.”

He soon told his dad about his new passion for IT. It took some time, but Yusuf’s dad was kind enough to let his son follow his passion.


“When he asked where I wanted to study IT, I told him Japan. I do karate and I love the culture and that fusion of both culture and technology was something I admired. I think (going to Japan) was the best decision I ever made in my life.”

Yusuf Bilesanmi moved to Japan to study IT at the Ritsumeikan Asian Pacific University from 2006 to 2010. At APU, his first research work focused on the use of IT-controlled systems to shut down computers when not in use. This one way Japan was trying to use in mitigating energy waste at the time.

Thereafter, he moved on to Waseda University (also in Japan) for his master’s programme. In Waseda, he focused on smart grid systems in tsunami-affected, off-grid communities without power supply and discovered ways to address this challenge.

He has a Ph.D. under the Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE) program at the University of Loughborough. He has another post-graduate degree from Univeristy of Cambridge, Institute of Sustainability Leadership, from 2016 to 2017.

Yusuf Oladipupo B. smiling and holding Shivent.
Yusuf Oladipupo with Shivent.


For every scientific innovation, there must have been an existing problem. The problem as in the case for ShiVent arouse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Yusuf Bilesanmi thought it would be “worrisome” to isolate his five-year-old daughter in a part of the house should she contract the virus.

So, he reached out to Dr. Yusuf Shittu, whom he had previously met in China at the Unleash United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Labs, to discuss tenable solutions. Dr. Shittu already had a prototype designed for only neonates (newborn children). Their idea was to reengineer it for adult use with assistance from 3 engineers who had experience in human-centred designs and material systems. From the Loughborough Community, they got the help of Pawel Nycz, Gaurav Nanajkar and Ricardo Nascimento.

After ten weeks of working together, they came up with a prototype of  “ShiVent” which is a non-invasive, non-electric, highly energy-efficient and simple-to-use ventilator. Shivent was eventually put to lots of clinical trials which it passed. The Lagos government through LASSRIC was supportive. The council helped fund second phase of the development of ShiVent with a sum of five million Naira.


This newly designed ventilator improves the chances of survival of patients with breathing difficulties (as in COVID-19) especially in low resource settings where mechanical ventilators are scarce and expensive. It does this by providing positive pressure from an oxygen cylinder which is blended with air, thus, providing an oxygen-air mixture that assists the work of breathing of patients.


Yusuf Bilesanmi is the founder of Eja-Ice, a refrigeration and solar-powered cold chain company (set up) in 2018. The company was built out of need to help local fish retailers minimize fish waste due to erratic power supply. Eja-Ice has also grown to help SMEs sustain their business profitability via its last mile distribution solution.

Eja-Ice Presentation.

The idea behind Eja-Ice won him the 2019 Talent at the UNLEASH 2019 in Shenzen China for addressing Goal 12 of the SDG’s- Responsible Production and Responsible Consumption.


That’s a lot about Yusuf Bilesanmi – he is on our list of top Nigerian Inventors we never heard of. If you found this insightful, kindly share with family and friends 😀

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