By Karen Peattie

A SCOTTISH technology company that recently launched a device to enable social distancing among workers has completed a further £700,000 round of fundraising for the ongoing development of its personal monitoring equipment and reporting technology.

Business angel investment syndicate Archangels led the round with co-funding from the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, and £103,000 from Reactec’s board, management and staff.

This funding round is aimed at expanding Reactec’s health risk sensor portfolio and internationalising its footprint.

Edinburgh-based Reactec, a UK market leader in monitoring and data analytics for the common industrial disease hand and arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), expanded the workplace health monitoring capabilities of its HAVwear device last year.

The firm, founded in 2001 as a spinout from the University of Edinburgh, introduced an “internet of things” communication hub and collaborated with leading suppliers of specific health risk monitors to provide a flexible, connected worker platform.

In May, it repurposed its wearable HAVwear monitor, which uses Bluetooth technology, to manage social distancing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Called Safe-Distance, the wrist-worn device alerts workers when they are within less than two metres of another user.

Jacqui McLaughlin, chief executive of Reactec, said: “Our technology roadmap is all about empowering companies with real-life insight to the risks their employees face at work.

“The added ability to help companies and their workers get back to work safely by helping them to maintain a safe distance from each other is another string to our bow and I’m proud of the team that has developed this facility in such a short space of time.”

Eighty customers around the UK have taken delivery of 4,000 devices as construction sites reopen and enquiries have also been received from nearly 200 other companies, including some from overseas.

Safe-Distance, Ms McLaughlin reiterated, is based on a "robust, tried and tested personal monitoring technology specifically designed for harsh environments and the strongest requirements of corporate ownership of GDPR compliant data".

"While the repurposing of the technology to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 is innovative, it is a software amendment to a well-used system," she said. "Like everyone else, we long to see the country get back to work and for the economy to be kickstarted once more.

"I’m confident that Safe-Distance can play an important part in helping to make this happen.”

However, Ms McLaughlin confirmed that Safe-Distance had scope to be utilised in other sectors such as manufacturing, and logistics and warehousing.

“While the initial thinking for Safe-Distance came about because of the virus the technology applies to many working environments,” she said. “Companies are not rushing to return to an office environment with many people continuing to work from home but we are very aware that people are at higher risk when there are many in confined areas indoors.

“We had the wheels in motion for this funding round at the beginning of the year and while the ensuing circumstances held us back a little, we were only a month or so behind," said Ms McLaughlin. "We see this funding as a stepping stone.”

Dr Sarah Hardy of Archangels said: “Staying healthy and safe at work has always been Reactec’s goal but now, more than ever before, the company’s ability to harness the latest technology to keep those at work safe at work is hugely valuable.

“Archangels has a strong track record in supporting innovative Scottish companies and we are confident it is those such as Reactec that will succeed by deploying clever technology in new ways to tackle the new issues that we face in a post-Covid world.”

Scottish Investment Bank director Kerry Sharp said: “The Reactec team deserves huge credit for its perceptive assessment of the workplace challenges created by Covid-19 and the speed with which it has adapted its products to address those difficulties.

“It’s this kind of sharp, innovative thinking that will help reset, restart and recover the economy.

“We believe that with the support of its investors, Reactec will continue to evolve its offering and grow its business, with its ingenuity ultimately being recognised on an international scale.”