Bristol start-up Service Robotics Ltd, based at tech and innovation hub Future Space, has exceeded its crowdfunding target for its first product, GenieConnect®.

GenieConnect® is a robot companion service that has been developed for the elderly to help them to live independently and alleviate loneliness – something which Age UK estimated affects in excess of 1.4 million people in the UK. Also, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) 3.8 million people over 65 in the UK live alone.

Interest has been so high in the start-up venture that it has raised over 178% of its target £120,000 since the initial launch of its crowdfunding campaign in December 2018.

To date over 262 investors have pledged to an 11.5% equity in the venture, raising over £214,000.

GenieConnect® works by pairing an AI-driven robot companion with a friendly service agent, providing live video support on the robot screen, via a simple voice command.

Development plans for the product involve sending out around 150 ‘Genies’ into the Bristol and wider UK area as a pilot project taking place up to the middle of this year, with preparation for a commercial launch in the second half of 2019.

Rob Parkes, chief executive of Service Robotics Ltd, said: “Our elderly population is growing, with so many people over the age of 65 living alone, our mission is to enable independent living for longer and to help alleviate the huge negative impact of loneliness.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response we’ve had our GenieConnect® project and the support only further highlights that there is a gap in the market here.

“Loneliness and solitude can have a hugely detrimental effect on our physical health, which is why we have developed a solution this growing problem.”

Crowdfunding is one of the new forms of funding being explored by the science and tech businesses based at Future Space which are looking to scale up and grow. The hub provides business support for all its resident companies to enable businesses like Service Robotics Ltd to reach their goals and growth targets.

Marty Reid, centre director at Future Space, said: “Service Robotics is doing some incredible work which will revolutionise many aspects of the elderly care crisis.

“This form of funding is relatively new for many science and tech SMEs and continues to evolve. The experience of Service Robotics will help us offer even better support to Future Space companies who are looking to raise investment.

“Creating an environment where our community can learn from one another is exactly what Future Space is all about.”