Recent statistics published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction show that over 25,000 people die on European roads annually, but even more are seriously injured. It is estimated that at least 25% of these deaths are caused by alcohol. There has also been an increase in road deaths due to illicit or medicinal drugs.
According to the European action plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol 2012–2020, drink and drug driving is one of the main concerns that must be tackled with priority. Even if Europe has implemented several measures to control the situation, urgent actions are still needed. Only in 2019 there were 3.1M accidents and 3,408 of them resulted in death. Countries such as Sweden have increased the number of drug tests performed from 2013 to 2020, with one out of 20 people testing positive. All these fatal accidents could be prevented using the right tools.
Driven by the urgency to save lives in traffic and safety critical work environments, Jenny Johansson and Stefanie Najafi founded Sightic in 2019 after working together at the Police Department in the fight against organised crime, in Gothenburg, Sweden. While Jenny was working as a psychologist and Stefanie as a police officer,they witnessed first-hand the dramatic consequences of alcohol and drugs in society. They decided to found Sightic to reduce alcohol and drug-related accidents.
Since then, the two co-founders have built a motivated team who, driven by this mission, has developed a revolutionary AI-technology to detect the influence of alcohol and drugs through image analysis of the eye and face area.
At Sightic, they are determined to save millions of lives not only in Europe, but all over the world by detecting drivers and workers under the influence of drugs or alcohol and preventing them from putting at risk anyone’s lives.We at Strata felt also the need for a solution to this problem, and believed that the EIC Accelerator could be a perfect support for them. The team at Strata has been working closely with Sightic and helping them prepare a successful EIC application that has allowed Sightic to receive crucial economic support on their journey to make our roads and workplaces safer.
Beginning and objectives
While working at the Police, Jenny and Stefanie, Sightic co-founders, realized there was an urgent need to find faster and more effective methods to detect if people are under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Although some of the current manual assessments used by the police are based on scientifically proven measurement values in the eyes, these assessments can become easily subjective, so they began to investigate if it was possible to digitize these measurement values with the help of modern technology.
“Our objective was to make these assessments more objective using modern technology”
During a needs study, they realized quite quickly that there was a huge demand for such a product in various segments such as the automotive industry, micro-mobility, hazardous workplaces and healthcare.
“Our goal is to be the world leader in detecting alcohol and drug effects via image analysis within 5 years. We must be the obvious option to choose within this segment”, states Jenny.
Projects, challenges, and opportunities
There is a lot of interest from the e-scooter market. “We believe that we can make a big difference in this market. There are many accidents in the evenings and nights because the person riding the e-scooter is under the influence of alcohol, so we can prevent many of these accidents by requiring the people to perform the test on the renting app before unlocking and riding the e-scooter”, Jenny declares.
She also added that their biggest opportunity is to integrate the software into vehicles to prevent many of the traffic accidents that occur because the driver is intoxicated. However, it is also their biggest challenge due to all the requirements placed on the software.
According to Jenny, there are few women working in this industry.. However, from their point of view, they have not found any difficulties for being female entrepreneurs: “we haven’t noticed anything negative about it, rather positive. It is noticeable that there are not many female founders in tech, which has meant that many are happy to highlight us in various media contexts, which is positive marketing for us”.
Sightic Analytics experience with the EIC and Strata
According to Jenny, the EIC gave them a fantastic opportunity to be able to accelerate their product development and the commercial aspects of it. They especially thank the fact that the EU believed in their innovation and saw a great need for their products to prevent many of the problems that alcohol and drugs bring. “We are very grateful for the grant, we know that the competition was tough”, commented Jenny.
Through the grant received, they will implement projects they set up for the next two years, including increasing data collection in the form of a lab study. They will also use this opportunity to work more with the commercial parts, which is where they see room for improvement.
“We have only positive things to say about Strata. Very engaged and helpful throughout the whole process. We would not have succeeded without them”, concluded Jenny.
Inma Martín Berenjeno, innovation consultant at Strata, who led the support for Sightic, very much enjoyed the process of helping them build a winning proposal. “Jenny and Stefanie are both very inspiring female entrepreneurs. Helping them achieve their mission has been a real honor for me and for the whole Strata team. We are glad we can contribute to making Europe safer and promote female’s contribution to a still male dominated industry”.
Cover imagen by Freepik.