Cam­bridge univer­sity AI speech start-up in fundrais­ing

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Matthew Field

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.

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