Preventing Workplace Injuries

Why we invested in Soter Analytics

Victor Szabo
Matterwave Ventures
5 min readApr 19, 2022

--

Look around any room or public transport and try not to see a smartwatch or phone for almost every person in sight. Smart sensors are proliferous in our personal lives, but it may come as a surprise to hear that this technology has not been truly leveraged in specific industries, such as manual labour…yet. Sure, step-counting and heartrate-monitoring has existed in these workplaces for a couple of years now, but almost no one had had the idea or inclination to ask, could we create a more precise tool for this? And then re-ask: how could we create such a more precise tool? And then have the vision and motivation to bring that tool to the market, at a time where manual labour industries are being forced to adapt to changing market forces, geopolitical realities, and workers waking up to the fact that their main asset is their health.

With Soter Analytics, we found a company willing to ask these questions, and committed to solve this problem — both the corporate pain-points of workplace injuries causing productivity loss, large costs in injury rehab, workforce shortages, but also the worker’s needs in the manual labour workplace: autonomy, agency, and better health.

Soter Analytics is an ergonomic safety start-up based in the UK that uses wearables and AI-driven technology to reduce work-related muscoskeletal disorders. They track both hazardous and safe back and shoulder movements to provide easily accessible and understandable insights. These insights allow multiple stakeholders — the manual workers themselves, health and safety managers, physical therapists, and hiring managers — to make smarter and more informed decisions to minimise and prevent workplace injuries.

Our enthusiasm in Soter Analytics is based on five main pillars:

🧠 Smart and low-barrier technology

Soter Analytics’ technology is, to put it simply, smart. The proprietary combination of wearables, data analytics, and visual recognition is based on smart sensors and AI-driven software. This allows for a plug-and-play type wearable technology that can be integrated into any existing customer hardware, with the analytics dashboard easily accessible with a mobile app or communal tablet. The set-up process is designed to be as smooth as possible and can be completed in under 30 seconds, with improvements in movements noticeable after 2–3 weeks of use. Gamification reduces the usage barrier, and motivates and engages the workforce, while the wearable device provides easily accessible feedback in real time with audible and vibrotactile alerts. The device itself is light and non-invasive, not reliant on Wi-Fi, and with a 30-day battery life. In short, the discomfort is minimal, and the benefits are large.

⌚️ Big Problem, Strong Solution

“Soter” was in Ancient Greek times used as a title for gods or liberators, meaning saviour or deliverer, often of sickness or conflict. An apt name for a company that wants to humanise the blue-collar workforce and reduce unnecessary injuries and lay-offs. Manual labour divisions can be found across industries and the world, from logistics, warehousing, oil and gas, construction to healthcare. Health and safety managers of such corporates were previously reliant on historical statistics on workers’ health, knowing only the key retrospective information: up to 3 out of 100 workers in manual handling industries get a muscoskeletal injury per year, costing the global economy USD 140bn annually, and the firms USD 40k per person for rehab. But injuries do not happen purely by chance. Instead, they are the product of a build-up of demanding external forces, movements, and bad lifestyle. As the wear-and-tear on the body increases, so does the risk of injury, until the body snaps. And once the injury has occurred, the long recovery time and slow rehabilitation process do not aid the matter, putting pressure on both the firm and worker. This pressure is eased by Soter Analytics’ industry-agnostic, personalised overview of hazardous and safe shoulder and back movements. These back and shoulder injuries count for the majority of muscoskeletal disorders in manual handling, and Soter Analytics is able to provide an injury reduction of 30–60%. No complete liberation of sickness, but a large step in the right direction.

🧐 Multi-stakeholder approach

In an industry where workers’ bodies are often treated as expendable capital, Soter Analytics’ product intends to personalise and humanise them. With Soter Analytics’ combination of wearables and an analytics dashboard, multiple parties’ stakeholder to manual worker productivity, health, and safety can track movement and muscoskeletal health. Firstly, the manual workers themselves are given agency via a mobile app that provides direct feedback using data from the clip-on sensor to give real-time movement and posture improvement. Secondly, health and safety managers can track aggregated data of their workers to create safer motion sequences and decrease health risks. Additionally, hiring managers can use Soter Analytics to decide whether a person is compatible for the job in terms of movements using the backend platform. Questions such as: do they have the right physical ability or strength, are they learning and training safely and effectively, can be answered precisely and without guesswork. Lastly, physical therapists can use the data platform to monitor patient progress, speeding up rehabilitation time and working further to prevent follow-on injuries or relapse. The whole team built around every worker is included, and …

📈 Strong Pipeline of new cases

Soter Analytics has, from the beginning, worked closely with customers to ensure that their product truly delivers. The demand and need for their solution are so large that the team was able to work in quick development cycles and test immediately on real customers. This provided direct feedback and allowed for quick product evolution, but also paved the way for their now very strong pipeline of customers. Currently, Soter Analytics is in use in the US, with Coca-Cola, the UK, with Travis Perkins and Merck, and in Australia, with Woolworths and Australia Post. Many new clients are already in the pipeline, with the focus on large employers, and insurance companies to catch mid-sized companies.

💪 Team, of course!

Matthew and Aleksei are engineers by training, but definitely not only interested in machines. From Soter Analytics’ value proposition to every meeting we had with them, their motivation and passion for people was clear. Their great communication skills, dynamic and analytical thinking, and perseverance and diligence made this process smooth and fast sailing, and will no doubt translate to future achievements. With this team, it’s a no-brainer that we are looking forward to our work together, to build new customer relationships, expand the team, and break into new market geographies and verticals.

For more information about Soter Analytics, check out their website: https://soteranalytics.com/

Feel free to reach out to us, Christian Schütz and Victor Szabo, if you are interested to learn more about our view on the market or if you would like to get in touch with the founders.

--

--