Innovation series gathers stories of some of the most innovative social businesses around the world that work with the dual aim of profit and impact. Businesses committed to doing good stand out from the crowd because most customers feel good about supporting socially proactive companies. They also achieve a boost in productivity since employees who know their work tangibly affects the lives of others are more likely to go above and beyond. It is hoped that the series will impart useful knowledge for greater institutional support for activities with social innovation impact. Read about SEV’s new investor-led initiative – a social venture builder.
Social business: Prysmex
by Joanne Willemin & Yusuf Jaffar
Despite constantly evolving safety standards, industrial accidents still do happen more often than desired, representing considerable human and environmental costs. Construction, mining and petrochemical industries are just the few where most such accidents take place. Companies are taking measures by investing in safety training and increasing the regularity of material checks. Still, however, it is operationally difficult for them to have a global view of all working conditions in real time.
Innovation to emulate
Prysmex is a startup that was founded by three Mexican students trying to create a more efficient way for managers to monitor the safety of their employees working on the ground. They have designed intelligent industrial wearables – helmets and vests – that are able to detect many environmental variables and are connected to a web platform for information monitoring.
These wearables provide real time data on workers’ location and their exposure to hazards, unsafe lighting conditions, and dangerous temperature levels. They also measure personal data such as the workers’ heart rate and body temperature and can even detect one’s fall automatically. An emergency button is included on the equipment.
All information gathered becomes instantly available on a web platform, which enables managers to react quickly in an emergency. Over the long term, the analytics tool provided by Prysmex can help companies understand the prevailing working conditions better for enhancements and prevention of major industrial accidents.
Impact to date
The social business has received financial support from the National Institute of Entrepreneurship in Mexico and was the only Mexican project among the 70 finalists during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in July 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.
In June 2016, they were amongst the 10 winners of the Latin America Bridge competition organised by Coca Cola. The latter announced that it would be using Prysmex’s products to standardise its industrial safety processes across the bottling facilities, toward the goal of achieving a zero accident target by 2020.