In the ever-evolving world of technology, Berlin has emerged as a hub for groundbreaking innovations, particularly in the realm of healthcare. The Deep Tech Awards 2023 brought this into sharp focus by honoring Bearcover, a Berlin-based startup reshaping eldercare through advanced ai-technology. The brains behind this success are Dan Flynn (CEO), Ben Duffy (Co-Founder), and Fernando German Torales Chorne (CTO), whose collective vision is charting new territory in tech-driven caregiving.
Hello Dan, Ben and Fernando, first of all congratulations on winning the AI category! Dan, how was the company founded? What inspired you to develop your Care Support Oscar?
Ben and I have known each other since we were kids in Dublin. I met Fernando as part of an accelerator program. As a team we had already worked on a concept for communication in the hospital sector. We also have family roots in healthcare. We already had an awareness of the industry. With Corona and the increased public awareness of the needs of caregivers, we decided that the time was right to address the issues facing the care sector.
What deep tech application is Oscar based on?
It is based on our robot, which is hand built in our office. It has an ultra-wideband radar built in, along with several other parts. The radar enables us to detect the position and movement of residents in rooms in care homes and clinics through closed doors and walls. As soon as the robot detects something that needs to be reported, it notifies the staff on duty via an app. We developed the app with feedback from care staff so that as many people as possible can use the robot, regardless of their previous digital skills. AI is used in everything from software development to hardware navigation and radar data analysis.
What have been the biggest challenges in development?
Whether it is developing robots for use in real-world conditions or constantly working to improve the accuracy of radar data analysis, there are always challenges when working on innovation with deep tech. But that's what drives us as a team. You solve one problem and the next is just around the corner. At the same time, everyone has the ambition to tackle such a complex subject.
What milestones are you most proud of?
As a team, we reach milestones every two weeks, with each division taking turns in providing solutions to reach the next step - the absolute driving force behind everything. But the most important milestones were definitely our repeated successful radar tests in a geriatric clinic in Brandenburg and gaining the trust of our investors such as BACB, Mosel Ventures, the family office of the Michels Group and numerous business angels from the health tech sector.
What are your short and long term goals with Bearcover?
Our current focus is on integrating multiple robots into multiple facilities to make the full impact of the robots measurable. Our priority is to support care facilities in their mission to provide the best possible care for the elderly and vulnerable. In the long term, the robot will become an integral part of routine tasks, allowing caregivers to focus on their most important task - caring for people.
Are there any other technical features that Oscar should learn in the future that you are currently working on?
As with any company, there is a list of ideas and possible enhancements. However, we are focused on developing our core features and there is no room for other topics.
How is the distribution of Oscar currently structured?
We are currently in an integration phase, i.e. we are already working with well-known companies and institutions to transfer the functions into real conditions within pilot projects. In the next step, we want to conclude long-term framework agreements to achieve the scaling of a robot infrastructure based on milestones. The demand is there and we are working closely with our existing partners, but we are always happy to hear from other interested parties who meet our framework conditions.
What is the response from the care facilities where Oscar is already in use? Can you give some figures or case studies of positive effects for staff and residents that illustrate the benefits of Oscar?
There's a nice story to tell here: During one of the robot's first deployments, Oscar reported a resident who had left her room. She is actually unable to move around independently, and the nurse on duty was able to react quickly before a fall could have occurred. That's what it's all about: supporting caregivers to do their job to the best of their ability.
There is also the constant communication with the nursing staff, which helps us in our development. At the same time, the nursing staff appreciate the understanding and support for their concerns.
How would you rate Berlin as a location for AI startups?
Although we are an international team, we are based in Berlin and Brandenburg with some partners. Berlin offers the opportunity to build a team with specific skills in a very short time. With a strong community, which we also find in our office in the Motion.lab (a hardware hub), we were able to overcome challenges in a very short time.
Do you have any tips for young founders that you would like to share?
First: Take as much time as possible to talk to customers, partners and users. Second: The team is everything. Thirdly: Building a startup is difficult. There are ups and downs, so you should never fly too high or fall too low. Always try to keep the balance.
Thank you very much for the interview!
More information about Bearcover: www.bearcover.de
This story was originally published on Deep Tech Berlin (in German).