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Verve Motion raises 20 million US dollars for soft exoskeletons

Verve Motion, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based developer of exoskeletons for a variety of industrial applications, has received $20 million in Series B funding. The new funding will help Verve scale its SafeLift soft exoskeleton.

Verve Motion is a spin-off of the Biodesign Lab at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Since its foundation in 2020, it has now raised more than 40 million US dollars.

SafeLift is a lightweight exoskeleton that combines real-time motion capture with robotic assistance. SafeLift is worn like a backpack and relieves the strain on an employee's back by around 40 % during a typical working day by providing support parallel to the underlying muscles.

SafeLift includes a cloud platform with motion-based sensors to automatically detect risky movements such as excessive bending and twisting. Verve said SafeLift has helped American workers lift more than 300 million pounds and eliminate up to 85 % of lower back and hip injuries at sites in the food, package distribution, third-party logistics, retail, supply chain and manufacturing industries.

"Our mission is to advance the human workplace by leading the next generation of wearables for industrial workers," said Ignacio Galiana, co-founder and CEO of Verve Motion. "Our SafeLift solution significantly reduces the risk of back injury and fatigue while increasing facility productivity and promoting employee retention."

"We are creating a safer and more efficient future for industrial workers worldwide," he added. "This additional funding will drive the expansion of our solution and allow us to scale operations to meet the growing demand for our technology and ensure it is accessible to the workers who need it most."

Verve also said that SafeLift can increase productivity by 3 % to 7 %. The company has sold around 1,000 exoskeletons so far and has conducted pilot projects with grocery chains Albertsons and Wegmans.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the average cost of back injury claims, including medical bills, lost wage benefits and other expenses, can range from $40,000 to $80,000 per injury.

A warehouse worker lifting a crate with the help of Verve Motion's soft exoskeleton.

An employee in a food processing facility relieved 40 % of the load with each lift by using the SafeLift exoskeleton. | Image credit: Verve Motion

"At Albertsons Companies, we are committed to developing innovative technologies that protect our employees, especially those who work on the front lines in our distribution centers," said Mustafa Harcar, Vice President of Automation at Albertsons. "Integrating the SafeLift solution into our warehouse operations is proving to be groundbreaking as it helps to reduce physical strain, reduce injuries and create a safer working environment. We are thrilled with what we have observed and look forward to further developing our partnership with Verve Motion as we continue to prioritize the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees."

The Series B funding round was led by Safar Partners, with new investment from Cybernetix Ventures and follow-on investment from existing investors including Construct Capital, Pillar VC and OUP. Individual investors also participated in the round, including Frederic Kerrest, Vice Chairman and co-founder of Okta, and John McEleney, co-founder of Onshape and former CEO of SolidWorks.

Busy week for exoskeletons

It has been a busy week for the developers of exoskeletons. German Bionic, which also develops exoskeletons for industrial applications, has raised more than 16.3 million US dollars in an extended Series A financing round. The funding is part of the company's plan to intensify its relationship with its industrialization partner Mubea.

Wandercraft also unveiled its personal exoskeleton at an event in New York this week. Watch a demonstration of the new exoskeleton in the video above. Wandercraft, which is based in France and recently opened an office in the U.S., announced that pre-orders for the personal exoskeleton will begin on January 15, 2024.

Finally, Ekso Bionics announced that 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 anticipates that CMS will announce pricing in February 2024, prior to the anticipated effective date of April 1, 2024.

Ekso Indego Personal is a modular, lightweight and portable exoskeleton that can be used in most domestic and community environments. The device features an enhanced gait mode that allows users to achieve faster walking speeds and reach new levels of independence.

Tom Illauer

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