Speechmatics raises £6.35 million

The automatic speech recognition market is expanding at an unprecedented rate, joining other markets in the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence solutions.

Machine learning and automatic speech recognition Speechmatics has raised £6.35 million in a Series A funding led by AlbionVC with participation from IQ Capital and several angel investors.

The Cambridge-based company said it will use the funds to expand globally and open new headquarters in Denver USA, Brno in Czech Republic, and Chennai in India.

It will also look at expanding its team to grow from 50 to 100 people by the end of the year.

The news comes after John Milliken as CEO in January this year. Commenting on the news, Milliken said: “We’ve invested heavily into our product and machine learning capabilities to provide our customers with what we believe is the best speech recognition technology on the market.

“We recognise that businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of unlocking their voice data and utilising it for core business functions such as compliance, analytics, training and improving customer experience. This latest investment opens up not only global expansion but the opportunity for new product development and traction in new markets.”

Automatic speech recognition market on the rise

The automatic speech recognition (ASR) market is currently worth $7.5 billion and is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years, with an estimated worth of $21.5 billion by 2024.

Applications of this technology include the transcription of audio files, live subtitling in broadcast, and the conversion of call centre recordings into text.

Speechmatics’ technology is is currently available in 29 languages, both in the cloud or on-premises. This second option is particularly alluring for companies that don’t or can’t share their data on the cloud.­

The company counts clients such as Deloitte,  BBC and Channel 4 for subtitling, and for security checks on social media videos.

“Speech software is a large and rapidly growing market and we believe Speechmatics’ small footprint language models, capable of flexible deployment in the cloud, on-premises or on-device will become of strategic importance in the evolving landscape, “commented Robert Whitby-Smith, Partner at AlbionVC .

”We believe Speechmatics, led by John, is poised to become a significant global software company.”

AI investments: a wider industry trend

While it is out of doubt that the automatic speech recognition market is growing substantially, it represents only a part of the share of investments in artificial intelligence today.

Down below are listed some of the biggest AI investments of 2019, together with involved companies and monetary value:

  • Microsoft announced it will invest $1 Billion in OpenAI, to improve Azure Cloud credits and infrastructure and to “create new AI technologies and deliver on the promise of artificial general intelligence.”
  • SoftBank announced an AI-focused second $108 billion Vision Fund with LPs including Microsoft, Apple and Foxconn. These funds would be generally aimed at growing AI startups.
  • SAS said it will invest $1 billion in artificial intelligence over 3 years, to improve their AI-powered deep dives into trends and analysis with a focus on machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision.
  • MIT Schwarzman College of Computing pledged $1.1 billion to work on transformative solutions to global-scale problems.
  • Russia raised $2 billion for Investment in Artificial Intelligence, which allegedly will go towards introducing AI technologies into the Russian economy, systems of state governance, industry and agriculture.
  • IBM invested $2 Billion in a New York Research Hub for AI to further develop its computer-chip technologies
  • VW invested $2.6 billion in self-driving startup Argo AI as part of Ford alliance.

It is therefore clear that investments in artificial intelligence are consistent but extremely varied. From self-driving cars to speech recognition and computer vision, the applications of this technology are ever-new and ever-changing.

Which of them we’ll see more of in 2020?

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