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Verve Motion, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of exoskeletons for a variety of industrial uses, has raised $20 million in Series B funding. The new funding will help Verve scale its SafeLift soft exoskeleton.
Verve Motion is a spinout of the Biodesign Lab at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It has now raised more than $40 million since it was founded in 2020.
SafeLift is a lightweight exoskeleton that combines real-time motion sensing with robotic assistance. Worn like a backpack, Verve said SafeLift alleviates about 40% of the strain on a worker’s back during a typical workday by assisting in parallel with their underlying muscles.
SafeLift includes a cloud platform with motion-based sensors for the automatic detection of risky movements such as excessive bending and twisting. Verve said SafeLift has helped American workers lift more than 300 million pounds, eliminating up to 85% of lower back and hip injuries at sites in grocery, package distribution, third-party logistics, retail, supply chain distribution, and manufacturing industries.
“Our mission is to power the human workplace by spearheading the next generation of wearable technology for industrial workers,” said Ignacio Galiana, co-founder and CEO of Verve Motion. “Our SafeLift solution significantly diminishes the risk of back injury and fatigue, while enhancing facility productivity, and fostering employee retention.”
“We’re creating a safer and more efficient future for industrial workers globally,” he added. “This additional funding will drive the expansion of our solution and enable us to scale operations to meet the growing demand for our technology, ensuring it is accessible to the workers who need it most.”
Verve also said SafeLift can increase productivity by 3% to 7%. It has sold about 1,000 exoskeletons to date and pilots with grocery chains Albertsons and Wegmans.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the average cost of back injury claims, including medical bills, wage loss benefits, and other expenses, can range from $40,000 to $80,000 per injury.
“At Albertsons Companies, we are committed to pursuing innovative technologies that will safeguard our associates, particularly those on the frontline in our distribution centers,” said Mustafa Harcar, vice president of automation at Albertsons. “The integration of the SafeLift solution into our warehouse operations is proving to be a game-changer, helping mitigate physical strain, reducing injuries, and cultivating a safer work environment. We are enthusiastic about what we’ve observed and look forward to furthering our partnership with Verve Motion as we continue to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of our employees.”
The Series B funding round was led by Safar Partners, with new investments from Cybernetix Ventures as well as follow-on investments from existing investors, including Construct Capital, Pillar VC and OUP. The round also included participation from individual investors, including Frederic Kerrest, vice chairman and co-founder of Okta, and John McEleney, co-founder of Onshape and formerly CEO of SolidWorks.
Busy week for exoskeletons
It has been a busy week for exoskeleton developers. German Bionic, which is also developing exoskeletons for industrial uses, raised more than $16.3 million in an expanded Series A funding round. The funding is part of the company’s plan to intensify its relationship with its industrialization partner, Mubea.
Also, Wandercraft this week unveiled at an event in New York its Personal Exoskeleton. See a demonstration of the new exoskeleton in the video above. Wandercraft, which is based in France and recently opened a U.S. office, said pre-orders for the Personal Exoskeleton open on Jan. 15, 2024.
Finally, Ekso Bionics said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a payment level for its exoskeleton. CMS proposed a payment level of $94,617 for devices under this code. Ekso expects CMS to announce the pricing in February 2024 before the anticipated effective date of April 1, 2024.
Ekso Indego Personal is a modular, lightweight, and portable exoskeleton that people can use in most home and community environments. The device features an advanced gait mode for users to reach faster walking speeds, reaching new levels of independence.