Plug and Play selects KC startup for Topeka accelerator; Top City beginning to believe in itself

Plug and Play selects KC startup for Topeka accelerator; Top City beginning to believe in itself

Plug and Play selects KC startup for Topeka accelerator; Top City beginning to believe in itself

Heidi Lehmann, Kenzen

Startland News’ Startup Road Trip series explores innovative and uncommon ideas finding success in rural America and Midwestern startup hubs outside the Kansas City metro. This series is possible thanks to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which leads a collaborative, nationwide effort to identify and remove large and small barriers to new business creation.

Plug and Play Topeka is back, Lindsay Lebahn said, announcing the accelerator program’s second cohort of startups — including a surging Kansas City company — and revealing ways the effort has redefined the definition of entrepreneurship in the Sunflower State’s epicenter.

Lindsay Lebahn, Plug and Play Animal Health and AgTech Accelerator

Lindsay Lebahn, Plug and Play Animal Health and AgTech Accelerator

“Realistic expectations of Topeka have changed,” explained Lebahn, program manager and a key player in bringing the San Francisco-based accelerator’s presence to Topeka two years ago.

“Topeka is really starting to believe in Topeka. … I think a lot of that [has to do with the] revitalization of downtown. We’ve had a lot of things happen throughout the years, but they would happen in pockets,” she continued, highlighting the efforts of GO Topeka to establish an innovation hub and center near and along Kansas Avenue — and a massive opportunity for connectivity in Shawnee County that comes with it.

“Things were happening, but not necessarily in a centralized location. Unless you lived in that area or visited that area, you didn’t really notice it and didn’t really feel it … but this revitalization of downtown has really helped the momentum of Topeka and I think Topekans are now starting to realize that there’s stuff to do here, there’s opportunities.”

Having successfully launched its first cohort virtually earlier this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Plug and Play welcomed 10 new startups into its animal health program last month. Among them, Kansas City-based Kenzen — a biometric platform and maker of a workplace safety, smart patch that monitors heat, fatigue and over exertion on the job.

Click here to learn more about Kenzen in a Startland News special report, broadcast in partnership with Bank of America. 

Heidi Lehmann, president, CCO and co-founder of Kenzen, right, speaks with Channa Steinmetz, Startland News reporter, and Joshua Lewis, founder of UpDown Nightlife, during the 2021 VC-Backed Companies Special Report

Additional participants, chosen by founding partners of the Plug and Play Topeka program Cargill, Evergy, and Hills Pet Nutrition, include: Aegis Packaging, Singapore; Birdstop, San Francisco, California; ISO Thrive, Manassas, VA; Lumin, Charlottesville, Virginia; Maven, Portugal; Nanox, Newton, Massachusetts; Pepperai, New York, New York; Sniffypet; Calgary, Alberta; and Tarot Analytics, Paris, France.

“It’s more than just animal health,” Lebahn said of the cohort and the problems they’re working to solve.

“We’ve seen a lot more [companies tackling] sustainability [and] workforce issues with COVID changing everything. Our partners are really looking to make sure that they are doing everything they can for their company and to make sure that they’re the top of the line, they’ve got the newest, latest, greatest technology.”

Less than a month into the program, current cohort companies have already received interest from venture firms who’ve participated in the program — just one result of Plug and Play’s intentional, cross-vertical programming and events, which see frequent collaboration with its North Dakota-based agtech accelerator and its Silicon Valley-based food-focused program.

Nine nondisclosure agreements have been signed between startups and corporations involved in the first program, Lebahn added, indicating there’s power in the program and its setup.

Click here for a full description of each startup or here to learn more about the Plug and Play Topeka program and past participants. 

Protecting Workers in Extreme Heat

Protecting Workers in Extreme Heat

Click here for the full article from Risk Management

Heidi E. Lehmann | September 1, 2021

A worker lying prone on the ground with a hardhat sitting next to them. In the foreground, a person with a first aid pack approaches.

As one might imagine, extreme heat can lead to an increase in workplace injuries. According to a recent study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, hot days do not just mean more cases of heat exertion and stroke. Heat stress on the body also leads to a greater incidence of falls and vehicle or machinery mishandling due to loss of concentration. These incidents lead to an additional 20,000 workplace injuries each year in California alone.

On days when the temperature was 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the researchers found the overall risk of workplace injuries was 5% to 7% higher on days when temperatures were in the 60s. When temperatures reached 100 degrees, the overall risk of injuries was 10% to 15% higher.

In general, heat-related injuries occur in just about every major group of workers across industries that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks. In 2018, 3,120 workers missed at least one day of work due to environmental heat, and more than 1,100 of those workers were in the construction and transportation industries. According to OSHA’s occupational injury cost estimator, using an average 6% profit margin for construction, the direct and indirect costs of a single heat-related incident require about $1.3 million in sales to offset.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2020 was the second-warmest year on record—just 0.04 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than 2016. In addition, the world’s seven-warmest years have all occurred since 2014, and 10 of the warmest years have occurred since 2005. As extreme heat becomes more common, organizations around the world must ensure they are taking proactive measures to protect workers.

 

How Heat Stress Happens

As a person’s core body temperature rises, sweating is the primary natural mode of cooling down. Blood flow increases to the skin, water and electrolytes are expelled by the sweat glands, and evaporation of sweat cools the body. This process is efficient as long as evaporation can occur, activity level does not increase, and hydration is adequate. However, workers on job sites are subject to their environment and productivity requirements, which may disrupt the body’s cooling process.

The heart rate needs to increase during sweating to pump blood fast enough to get it to the skin to cool off the body. Muscles also require blood to get oxygen and other nutrients for proper function during work. This means the cardiovascular system is strained when working in the heat, sending blood to everywhere it is needed. If a worker is sweating and maintaining a steady workload, eventually they are going to feel the fluid loss from sweating. The sweat loss will result in lower blood volume and pressure.

Working in hot weather impacts the nervous system as well, decreasing a worker’s ability to complete their tasks and affecting their cognitive ability. The nervous system needs to work harder to accomplish the same muscle movement it did when the environment was cooler. This makes work-related tasks harder and cognitive decision-making more difficult.

Adaptation to heat takes time and varies by individual, but the process typically takes two to three weeks when managed properly. Appropriate heat acclimatization is accomplished by increasing one’s core body temperature one degree Celsius for an hour each day. If the job requires workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), as most do, they need to slowly add PPE as well, for example, adding 20% each day and working toward full worksite coverage.

Keep in mind that heat-related injuries can also happen in cooler weather, particularly if a worker is over-exerting or dressed too warmly, causing overheating in their microclimate (the temperature between the skin and clothing).

 

Monitoring Heat Health

Measuring an employee’s heat health is imperative for detecting the onset of heat stress and taking steps to prevent incidents, injuries and even death. The standard method of measuring an employee’s core body temperature, the primary indicator of an issue, has been through gastrointestinal pills. Workers swallow one of these pills and a wearable device tracks their temperature over a set period of time as the pill moves through the body. Thermometers can also be used to get a temperature reading, but they do not scale well in workforces and only capture temperature at one point in time.

As workers go through their day, their physiology changes based on the conditions and their body’s response, so it is most helpful to track individuals’ health through continuous monitoring, such as via wearable devices. This allows the employee, supervisor and company to get real-time data that prompts an intervention to restore optimal body temperature and allow return to work, increasing productivity and safety.

Some organizations have started using smart PPE technology to enhance safety and minimize risk. Workers don devices with sensors that monitor heart rate, temperature and sweat rate. These are tracked against the individual’s heat susceptibility, as determined by factors including gender, age, underlying health conditions, current medications, and ability to acclimate. Some devices can send alerts to workers to warn them of stresses to their body, and send these alerts to their supervisors and company. Supervisors can then call a time out for individual workers to restore their bodies to safe working levels, while companies can track health data in various conditions at worksites and across multiple teams for a holistic view of their workforce’s health. Because core body temperature affects the work, this technology can also track productivity at the individual, team and corporate levels.

 

Preventing Heat Risk for Workers

There are a number of ways to protect workers from the impact of heat. Encourage workers to use a buddy system while on the job. Buddies are responsible for checking on specific coworkers’ well-being and they should talk to each other several times during the work day. If one person notices something strange or out of character with the other, they should alert supervisors and immediately get the person to an emergency cooling station on-site.

Educate workers on the signs and symptoms of heat stress. Encourage them to pay attention to their own symptoms and what their body may be telling them. Let employees know it is dangerous to “push through” the situation by being “tough” under extreme circumstances. It is not productive for the job—heat stress actually slows the work pace and increases errors. Working safely is the goal, not speed or testing the limits of the human body.

Acknowledge when a worker is vocal about symptoms and take all comments about changes in the body seriously. When the onset of heat stress is detected, stop the individual from working, get them to shade or air conditioning, and encourage them to drink fluids, especially water. Check on the person every five minutes to make sure they are recovering and feeling better. After 10 to 15 minutes, they may return to work if their symptoms have subsided. If not, continue treatment to eliminate the symptoms or seek professional medical attention for the worker if symptoms do not subside.

If the worker exhibits symptoms of heat stroke (when their body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit and they are confused or vomiting), immediately call for emergency medical services. While waiting for emergency assistance to arrive, help the worker cool down as quickly as possible. If available, try using ice baths or rotating cold compresses around the person’s body. Most importantly, do not leave their side until help arrives.

Heat-related injuries are almost entirely preventable. The latest techniques and tools, such as wearable devices, can help organizations understand the potential severity of the problem and respond appropriately, better protecting employees in extreme working conditions.

KENZEN featured in 29 Best Missouri Big Data Startups & Companies

KENZEN featured in 29 Best Missouri Big Data Startups & Companies

29 Best Missouri Big Data Startups & Companies

Click here for the full article from DataMagazine.co.uk

This article showcases our top picks for the best Missouri based Big Data companies. These startups and companies are taking a variety of approaches to innovating the Big Data industry, but are all exceptional companies well worth a follow.

We tried to pick companies across the size spectrum from cutting edge startups to established brands.

We selected these startups and companies for exceptional performance in one of these categories:

  • Innovation
    • Innovative ideas
    • Innovative route to market
    • Innovative product
  • Growth
    • Exceptional growth
    • Exceptional growth strategy
  • Management
  • Societal impact
Kenzen

Crunchbase Website Twitter Facebook Linkedin

Kenzen’s Mission is to harness the power of physiology data to predict and prevent industrial workforce injuries and improve productivity.

KENZEN Unveils Cloud-Based Heat Monitoring System for Worker Safety

KENZEN Unveils Cloud-Based Heat Monitoring System for Worker Safety

From Verdict UK–Click here for the full article

10th August 2021 

Kenzen Unveils Cloud-Based Heat Monitoring System for Worker Safety

Concept: American startup Kenzen has released a real-time worker heat monitoring system to predict and prevent illness and injury from heat, over-exertion, and fever. The cloud-based SaaS system involves a wearable PPE device that workers wear on their arms to alert themselves and their supervisors when the core body temperature approaches unsafe levels. Real-time alerts enable immediate intervention and safety from heat injuries.

Nature of Disruption: The wearable device leverages its sensor complement to track multiple physiological and environmental metrics such as skin, activity, heart rate, and ambient temperatures. Data from the sensors help predict core body temperature in real-time. The system sends multi-level alerts to workers through device vibration, iOS or Android app notification, and to supervisors through the web dashboard, indicating that the worker should take a break and allow the body temperature to return to normal levels. Alerts are accompanied by actionable recommendations that advise workers to take a break, find shade, remove excess clothing and equipment, or drink water to reduce body heat. Subsequently, the system sends a ‘back to work’ alert when the worker’s body temperature returns to a safe level. The system’s data can help companies identify heat risk and modify worksites accordingly to improve worker safety, maximize productivity, and manage outcomes. Some of the modifications might include work-rest schedule changes, the addition of water and shade stations, the inclusion of air-conditioned rest areas, and recommendations for pre-staging ice-bath locations during extreme weather and working conditions. The data can also be used to make informed decisions about workplace expenditures like equipment and clothing. The Kenzen system has been piloted on global industrial conglomerate worksites in domains like construction, power, oil and gas, field services, and renewable energy.

Outlook: Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments are at an increased risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and accidental burns. Although heat-related illnesses and injuries are preventable, they can prove to be fatal if not detected on time. Kenzen aims to offer a cloud-based risk management system that would provide real-time insights to prevent heat-related illness and injuries among workers and help companies acclimatize their worksites to improve worker safety. In the future, the startup wishes to introduce open APIs to incorporate the heat management system into large connected-worker platforms. It also expects to receive Intrinsic Safety (IS) certification, required for the use of the system in mining, oil and gas, and other enclosed environments.

KENZEN wins ISHN 2021 Readers’ Choice Award: Best PPE, safety equipment products

KENZEN wins ISHN 2021 Readers’ Choice Award: Best PPE, safety equipment products

2021 Readers’ Choice Awards Winners: Best PPE, safety equipment products

ISHN Magazine recognizes the most innovative personal protection equipment and occupational health and safety products of 2021

Click here for the full story: 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards Winners: Best PPE, safety equipment products | 2020-07-20 | ISHN