Over 500 investors back dementia-fighting SmartSocks

29th September 2023
Paige West

Over 500 investors have pledged to back an inventor’s SmartSocks – a technology that could transform care for people with dementia and non-verbal autism.

Dr Zeke Steer quit his job, took up a robotics PhD and began volunteering in a care home to help people like his great-grandmother, who became anxious and aggressive because of dementia.

The result are his SmartSocks, which track heart rate, sweat levels and motion to provide insights on the wearer’s wellbeing – most importantly how distressed they are. This AI-driven data gives carers vital early warnings before falls and allows them to intervene before anxiety escalates.

The socks will be a game-changer in care homes and will help people with dementia live longer in their own homes. They look and feel like normal socks, are machine washable and have received positive reviews in care home tests.

Now his rapidly-growing start-up, Milbotix, has attracted pledges worth over £550k from over 500  investors in Crowdcube’s early access phase.

The Crowdcube fund officially opened September 26. Milbotix aims to raise £200,000 to unlock £500,000 in already-secured Government grants.

Investors get equity in Milbotix and their funds help the startup’s patent-pending SmartSocks reach a global market.

Dr Steer said: “It’s been incredible to see so many people getting behind our mission: to improve care for the millions of people living with dementia worldwide.

“Every year 200,000 people are diagnosed with dementia in the UK alone, affecting not just them but their families and carers too.

“We are determined to bring SmartSocks to market to improve the lives of people  affected by this terrible disease. Thank you to everyone who has pledged their support so far.”

SmartSocks. Image credit: Dr Zeke Steer

Some early access investors pledged as little as £50, contributing what they could to improve the lives of people living with dementia.

Others have seen the business case. Milbotix has:

  • Secured £900,000 in Innovate UK funds
  • Secured £1.15million in non-dilutive funding from other sources, including £96,000 from Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity
  • Secured SmartSocks pre-orders from two UK councils
  • Registered its SmartSocks for a patent and international trademark
  • Won the Santander X Accelerate Award, Future Technologies Award, AbilityNet Tech4Good Ageing Society Award and Medilink South West StartUp Award

The funding will be used to grow Milbotix’s team of engineers and clinical researchers, build on their successful trials and continue developing the technology.

Dr Steer invented the smart socks while studying for a joint PhD at the University of Bristol and UWE Bristol, which together run Bristol Robotics Lab.

Prof Michele Barbour, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Bristol, said: “Milbotix’s SmartSocks are very exciting. Incorporating highly innovative machine learning algorithms and sensor technology into something as familiar and everyday as a sock is ingenious.

“This technology has the potential to affect real change for the person with dementia, and for their carers and family. For that reason, it’s been superb to see so many people backing Milbotix’s vision – both as a business and a force for positive change in dementia care.

“Dr Steer is one of many alumni from Bristol Robotics Lab doing truly incredible things. We wish him and the Milbotix team every luck in their raise.”

The WHO estimates that 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, and the NHS believes  nearly a million suffer in the UK.

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