Milbotix: A year on from Launch Space
Zeke was working in software engineering when his great grandmother developed dementia and became increasingly aggressive as she struggled with the disease.
The experience was difficult for Zeke and his family, and he became interested in understanding how family members can cope when someone becomes aggressive, and how situations like this could be avoided.
Zeke embarked on a PhD in Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, working with the assisted living group to look at how robotics can help people with a disability to live more independently.
As part of the project Zeke began working with the St Monica Trust in Bristol to understand how these situations are handled in a care setting and whether technology could help.
“I had personal experience of dementia. I saw the impact it had on my grandmother, who was caring for my great-grandmother at home. I also spent some time volunteering at a care home where I was in regular contact with people with dementia.
“I saw that my great-grandmother’s behaviour wasn’t an isolated incident. Research shows that about half of people with dementia experience the agitated/aggressive symptoms and they cost the UK over £2 billion/year.
“I started working with St Monica Trust to see if there was an appetite for using new technology to support people in a care setting.
“We mainly focused on wearable technology and how it could be used to detect signs of distress when someone isn’t able to verbalise how they’re feeling, that could then link to a robot that could engage with the person and soothe them.”
This idea formed the basis for his business Milbotix, which was officially launched in 2020. The business is being built around smart socks that can detect distress, because Zeke found other wearable technology, such as watches, was actually more distressing to people suffering with diseases like dementia.
“BRL was a fantastic place to develop the idea. When it then came to turning it into a business, I was able to get support from the Future Space team and develop my plans with the support of Launch Space. It was really helpful working alongside other businesses who are on the same journey, such as Peequal and Earswitch, and sharing advice on raising investment.
The funding has allowed Zeke and his growing team of four full-time staff plus six interns to focus on developing the MVP – including the socks, the software application, and AI – as well as running trials with 25 organisations.
His team are now actively looking for further investment and Zeke recently made it to the Bristol final of UK-wide startup competition The Pitch, where he pitched live to a panel of local investors.
It’s clear he’s come a long way since his initial idea, so we asked Zeke what advice he might have for others who have an idea for a business and might be looking for support such as Launch Space.
“Bristol is a fantastic area to start a business. There’s so much support and being linked with UWE Bristol has been extremely beneficial. As well as funding we’ve also had intern support funded by the University to help develop our software, and the Launch Space programme was invaluable. The support is there – people just need to tap into it.”
Milbotix is currently seeking investment. If you’re interested in knowing more get in touch with Zeke at email@example.com. They are also shortlisted for the Barclays People’s Choice Award in the Entrepreneurship Awards 2022. Vote for them here.
If you have a business idea you can apply for the next round of Launch Space now. Applications close on 17th October 2022.
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