Cambridge university AI speech start-up in fundraising
A CAMBRIDGE start-up developing speech recognition technology for blue-chip firms has raised more than £7m to expand globally and challenge Amazon and Google’s voice assistants.
Speechmatics, founded by Cambridge academic Tony Robinson, said it planned to use the funds to double its headcount from 50 to 100.
While Amazon’s Alexa is targeted at consumers, Speechmatics is one of a handful of companies developing tools for businesses.
Its products are used by blue-chip companies including Deloitte, as well as for subtitling on the BBC and Channel 4 and for security checks on social media videos.
Investors in the round include Cambridge’s IQ Capital, which has seen companies successfully exit to Google and Apple, and Albionvc, which previously invested in Bloomsbury AI, a start-up which was bought by Facebook last year.
Other investors include Amadeus Capital, founded by Cambridge chip pioneer Hermann Hauser.
John Milliken, chief executive of Speechmatics, said: “Our competitors are some of the largest in the world: Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM. We have a different value proposition.
“They are good at American English, but they lose out when we move to other accents.”
He added: “We are now expanding into new markets: compliance, defence, intelligence … and expanding geographically to set up an office in the United States.”
Ed Stacey, managing partner at IQ capital, said Speechmatics had the chance to develop “global scale”. The speech recognition market is expected to expand to nearly £17bn by 2024.