AI used at NASA set to improve work safety for Queenslanders

Mon, 22/02/2021 - 12:00

Ever thought working conditions in outback Queensland could be just like space?

Using technology designed to help NASA astronauts work in gruelling conditions, Queensland business Canaria Technologies have developed an innovative device that makes physically demanding work environments safer.

Heat exhaustion and cognitive fatigue are the two largest problems in the heavy industries, with serious cognitive fatigue incidents costing companies up to $20 million, and heat exhaustion costing $6,500 a day.

Canaria Technologies’ small medical-grade earpiece uses AI to monitor vital signs and predict heat exhaustion and cognitive fatigue in extreme conditions 10 minutes before it happens.

Thanks to a grant from Round 7 of the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund, this critical safety tool will soon be helping even more Queenslanders.

We caught up with Canaria Technologies to find out more about their ground-breaking technology and how their grant from the Ignite Ideas Fund will help them grow their technology and business.

What inspired you to start your business?

Canaria Technologies started by creating high-accuracy vital signs monitors for NASA in 2016. In that same year, we won their Global Space Apps Award for Best Use of Hardware. With the manned space exploration industry still being in its early days, we saw that there were immediate uses for predictive biometrics systems on earth to solve some of the biggest problems in the heavy industries. 

What milestones have been reached that you are most proud of?

Our top milestones are:

  • Developing and releasing five generations of hardware.
  • Closing our seed investment round with Remond Holdings.
  • Gaining Telstra as a business partner.
  • Moving to Australia to get to market. 

What are your business goals over the next 12-24 months?

We are planning on scaling manufacturing and releasing the Canaria-V Predictive Biometrics Platform to thousands of users in Australia and overseas, as well as developing our sixth generation predictive biometrics devices. 

How will you use your Ignite Ideas funding?

This funding will be used to increase our marketing capabilities and build a committed customer service department. 

How will this funding assist your business to grow and/or create jobs?

The grant allows us to dramatically accelerate our marketing timelines and build both a customer service department and hire a senior marketing specialist in the short-term.

In the long-term, the increased revenue and brand recognition brought about as a result of these new marketing initiatives will allow us to hire 15 new FTE team members over the next 24 months. 

Why would you recommend applying for Advance Queensland programs such as the Ignite Ideas Fund?

The Ignite Ideas Fund is a fantastic, focused fund which is built out extremely well into two distinct tiers for companies at the very start of their journey, and those at a growth phase.

Canaria Technologies has been a recipient of both tiers at different stages.

Tier 1 helped us to gain a foothold in our beachhead market and Tier 2 is now allowing us to reap the rewards of the work done for Tier 1 and expand the company.

Australia currently has the best government grant initiatives for the technology sector in the world, and Advance Queensland has done an exceptional job of filling the early-stage private investment gap in the country and bringing international talent into the state. 

What other support have you received from Advance Queensland or the Queensland Government?

We had a committed and friendly case manager for Tier 1 who supported us to meet our goals for Ignite.

The government support has also bolstered our brand reputation and given prospective clients confidence to make the leap and work with Canaria Technologies. 

Why is it important to support Queensland businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs?

There is world-class talent in Queensland and plenty of business cases to solve in Australia which are immediately applicable overseas.

Currently, there is a gap in professional investment in Australia which probably won’t be filled for another decade (the $500k-$1M region for Seed rounds) until the current generation of entrepreneurs exit their companies and start professional investment initiatives in Queensland.

The government has done an exceptional job of bridging this gap and allowing Australian companies to stay headquartered in Queensland while they expand overseas.

Queensland businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs and super-job creators need this support. As the world comes out of the pandemic recession, it’s especially important to be supporting innovators who are keen to rapidly build companies to employ 50+ staff.

What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs and businesses starting out on their innovation journey?

It’s a long journey!

If you’ve found a problem to solve which you feel passionate enough about to spend the next 10 years of your life committed to, you’ve found the right business foundation to build.

Emotional support is also very important to weather the storms of the entrepreneurial journey, so having a mental health professional on hand, as well as a support network to make sure you don’t burn out.

Also, spend the cash to get proper legal documents from the start. Four year vesting contracts for shares, a robust shareholder agreement, and SAFE notes for raising capital will save you a lot of sleepless nights. 

Last updated 22 Feb, 2021
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