Bristol start-up Service Robotics has chosen the tech and health innovation hub Future Space at its base.
From there it will continue its development of a robot companion service for the elderly in the UK to help them to live independently and alleviate loneliness.
Engineering entrepreneurs Rob Parkes and Tim Morgan have developed a robot powered by artificial intelligence called Genie to help to solve the big challenges of extended independent living for older adults.
Future Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone led by UWE Bristol, with support from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. It is run by Oxford Innovation and is co-located with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, at the heart of the main UWE Bristol Campus. It connects entrepreneurs and tech innovators with scientists, researchers and graduate talent – to spark collaboration, innovation and growth.
Rob Parkes said: “It’s a fantastic place to be. It’s professional and hi-tech, and the perfect innovation centre for start-ups like us.”
“There are plenty of businesses here who live a parallel existence to ours. It’s great to be able to tap in to the creativity of all kinds of tech startups, to learn from each other and build lasting relationships that could lead to groundbreaking collaborations.”
“Having access to the Bristol Robotics Lab has been invaluable in helping to evolve Genie as we’ve been able to work with their consultants, tapping into their skills to develop the pilot project.”
“The Health Tech Hub is part of the UWE Enterprise Zone which has a mock apartment to simulate real life situations and solutions. The hub will be instrumental in testing Genie in real time, seeing how it interacts in the home and with real users.”
Nuala Foley, innovation director at Future Space, added: “Service Robotics is doing some incredible work which has the potential to revolutionise many aspects of the elderly care system, so we’re delighted they’ve chosen Future Space as a base from which to grow and we look forward to helping them in their growth and innovation journey.
“At Future Space, health and tech companies benefit not only from the flexible workspace but also from a network of other fascinating and fast-growing companies and professional support services.”
The GenieConnect solution pairs the AI-driven robot companion with a friendly service agent which provides live video support on the robot screen, via a simple voice command.
The Genie robot itself also acts as a companion, answering questions and providing personalised content and reminders, using its AI and knowledge of the user. The company said that the benefit is that older adults do not need to understand the technology, they can just talk to the robot to get the help they need.
The startup is through their first round of seed funding and is now preparing to launch its crowdfunding campaign in November 2018. Its development plans involve sending out around 150 Genies into the Bristol and wider UK area as a pilot project in the coming months, to prepare for commercial launch next year.