Automated lip–reading company Liopa gains Future Fund support for innovation

Belfast start-up Liopa is among the first Northern Irish companies to receive Future Fund support for its development of automated lip-reading technology.

Belfast-based start-up Liopa, a spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast and The Centre for Security Technologies (CSIT) has received significant investment for its research in automated lip reading technology.

Investment in the company has also been supported by QUBIS, the commercialisation arm of Queen’s, Invest Northern Ireland’s Access to Finance funds Techstart NI managed by Techstart Ventures and Co-Fund II managed by Clarendon Fund Managers, and the company’s founding team.

The funding will be used to bring two new products to market, LipRead and SRAVI. LipRead will leverage automated lip-reading to significantly increase the accuracy of video and media transcriptions. The second product SRAVI is an app which enables people to communicate with healthcare workers, or their friends and family, while they cannot use their voice.

SRAVI is currently being trialed in a pilot study with the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The demand for the communications aid has increased due to the raise in patients who have undergone a tracheostomy as a result of COVID-19 complications.

The Future Fund was developed by government, delivered by the British Business Bank, to support high-growth, innovative firms through the current period of economic disruption caused by COVID-19.

Recipients of the fund are regarded as essential in ensuring the UK retains its world leading position in science, innovation and technology. The Future Fund enables high-potential companies to continue their growth trajectory and reach their full economic potential. So far the scheme has approved over £468 million of convertible loans agreements to 450 companies.

Liam McQuillan, CEO of Liopa, commented: “We are delighted to receive this funding in support of innovative businesses within the UK. The award will help Liopa achieve global impact with our automated lip-reading technology and ensure our continued success as a sustainable high growth tech company in Northern Ireland.”

Brian McCaul, CEO of QUBIS, commented: “We’re always excited to see how the companies we’ve worked with continue to grow and innovate producing cutting edge research. 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.”

Hal Wilson, Partner at Techstart Ventures, added: “Liopa’s technology has utility in a number of exciting markets and we are pleased to be able to continue to support the company with this further investment.”

Brian Cummings, Investment Director at Clarendon Fund Managers, said: “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.”

Techstart NI and Co-Fund II are part of Invest Northern Ireland’s Access to Finance portfolio and are supported by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland Programme (2014-2020).