A Bristol innovator has launched a pioneering health and safety device and raised £450,000 following support with design thinking and investment readiness from Innovate UK EDGE.
Bristol-based pioneer in social distancing devices SpaceBands has built upon its success during the pandemic and pivoted into the wider health and safety market. SpaceBands’ first wrist-worn device, launched in May 2020, helped employees stay safe during the pandemic by storing contact tracing data and vibrating when users are less than 2m apart.
The company sold its devices to more than 1,000 businesses – including the likes of the NHS, MoD, Panasonic, Sony & Amazon – and is now leveraging that customer base to expand its new multi-feature hazard alert system, tackling a broader spectrum of workplace safety issues.
Workplace injury and ill health costs the UK economy £16.2 billion annually, according to the Health and Safety Executive, and can devastate lives and families.
SpaceBands’ latest wearable addresses these challenges by prompting employees to take action on wellness and helping employers to make more informed decisions about workplace safety.
Ronan Finnegan, Co-Founder, SpaceBands, describes some features of the new wearable and SaaS platform; “the device monitors heart rate, prompts users to take a break and alerts them to numerous hazards such as dangerously loud noises or close machine proximity i.e., if there’s a forklift behind you.”
Health and Safety managers can access reports on SpaceBands’ mobile or web app and analyse overall workplace safety.
“If there’s 100 alerts for loud noises in a week, the company can take action by investing in better ear defenders,” says Ronan.
“We’re expecting it to be a real game changer in terms of workplace safety, well-being and insurance.”
Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist, Marc Rambaud, worked with SpaceBands to set out a detailed growth plan, focusing on its product development and investment readiness strategies.
Design thinking support
Marc introduced Innovate UK EDGE Design Thinking Specialist, Sarah Dickins, who helped SpaceBands understand what features health and safety professionals need from a workplace wearable.
“With Sarah’s support, we developed a questionnaire for our existing customer base and examined the responses with a really critical eye – analysing them figuratively and thinking outside the box,” says Ronan.
“That process was absolutely paramount to getting the journey started with our new product development and deciding which features were needed.
“We also worked with Sarah to design key aspects of the product, focusing on details like the strap and the connotations that come with different looks and feels. We really focused on creating the assumption that the device is reliable, adjustable and comfortable.
“From beginning to end, the design thinking support has been extremely valuable to us as a business.”
Investment readiness support
Innovate UK EDGE Access to Finance Specialist, Ed Tellwright, was next introduced to help SpaceBands present its new product as a clear, compelling and credible investment proposition.
“Ed gave us some great feedback about our pitch and helped us avoid some key mistakes that we would have almost certainly made in front of investors,” says Ronan.
In April 2022, SpaceBands raised £450,000 in investments from angels within well-respected networks: Henley Business Angels, South Angel Investors Club and Dorset Business Angels.
SpaceBands will use the funds to hire six members of staff and further its product development.
Reflecting on SpaceBands’ support journey with his Innovation and Growth Specialist, Marc Rambaud, Ronan says; “Marc’s like the yellow pages for my problems – I call him with an issue and he’ll get back to me with a suggested solution or introduce a relevant specialist.
“He’s like an infinite resource and a perfect sounding board; it’s been brilliant to work with him.”
Innovate UK EDGE will continue to support as this Bristol innovator expands further into the global health and safety market with its pioneering new device.