Belfast lip-reading tech receives Future Fund investment

12 Aug 2020

Image: Liopa

Liopa has created lip-reading tech to improve video transcriptions and make it easier for people to communicate when they cannot use their voices.

On Wednesday (12 August), Belfast start-up Liopa announced that it has gained support for its automated lip-reading innovations from the Future Fund, a UK government initiative that was launched in response to Covid-19.

Liopa, which is a spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and its Centre for Security Technologies, said that it has received “significant investment” for its research into automated lip-reading technology. The company did not disclose the value of the investment.

In addition to funding from the Future Fund, investment in Liopa has also been supported by QUB’s commercialisation arm, QUBIS, as well as Invest NI’s Access to Finance funds, Techstart NI and Co-Fund II, which is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers.

Liopa’s plans

The funding will be used to bring two new products to market, LipRead and Sravi. LipRead is a platform that leverages automated lip-reading to increase the accuracy of video and media transcriptions, while Sravi is an app that enables people to communicate with healthcare workers or friends and family when they cannot use their voice.

Sravi is currently being trialled in a pilot study with the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Liopa said that the demand for the communications aid has increased due to the rise in patients who have undergone a tracheotomy as a result of Covid-19 complications.

Brian McCaul, CEO of QUBIS, said: “Liopa is doing some critical work and using their research to provide solutions in a particularly challenging time. We’re pleased the team are getting the funding they deserve to continue this work.”

Brian Cummings, investment director at Clarendon Fund Managers, added: “The application of Liopa’s latest developments is an exciting glance at technology of the future. We’re delighted to play a part in this funding round and look forward to journeying with the team as it grows and develops over the coming years.”

The Future Fund, which is delivered by the British Business Bank, was developed by the UK government to support high-growth, innovative firms through the current period of economic disruption caused by the pandemic.

The fund’s goal is to enable high-potential companies to continue their growth and reach their full economic potential, despite the obstacles or challenges that may have arisen during the pandemic. So far, the scheme has approved more than £468m of convertible loans agreements to 450 companies.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic