Friday 20 June 2014
Amadeus Capital Partners, the technology investor, has made the first investment from its latest UK early stage fund, the Amadeus IV Early Stage Fund, which announced a first close at £33m in January this year.
Amadeus is leading a £750k seed financing in VocalIQ (www.vocaliq.com), a spin-out from the University of Cambridge’s Dialogue Systems Group. Cambridge Enterprise is also investing in this round.
VocalIQ has developed proprietary software to improve dialogue interactions in voice-activated systems. The global voice recognition market was valued at $53bn in 2012* and is forecast to grow to $113bn by 2017. Current technologies do not always offer a smooth user experience, with irrelevant or inappropriate automated responses to questions being one source of frustration – a problem that VocalIQ’s new method of dialogue management addresses.
Spoken dialogue technology is used in an increasing range of situations, from electronic devices in cars to digital language learning and video gaming. VocalIQ will develop its first products for automotive, education and retail businesses; it is already working on a prototype application for one of the world’s largest car manufacturers.
VocalIQ’s Chairman, Steve Young, is a Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge and an expert in speech processing. Professor Young was the original developer of the HTK speech recognition toolkit and a co-founder of Entropic, a company that Amadeus backed in the 1990s before its acquisition by Microsoft. VocalIQ CEO, Blaise Thomson, is an expert in dialogue system design and has won several awards for new approaches to building spoken dialogue systems.
Commenting on the investment, Amadeus Partner Hermann Hauser says: “VocalIQ’s team are a smart group who have identified a need for enhanced customer experience in speech technologies and are applying a combination of deep technical knowledge and commercial understanding to that need. With this funding, they will be able to expand the team and develop specific applications for testing. We are delighted to be on board.”
Hermann Hauser will represent the Amadeus Fund on the Board of VocalIQ. Legal advisers for the investment were Taylor Vinters.
For further information, please contact: Chantal Ligertwood, PR for Amadeus, +44 (0)7976 229 210 firstname.lastname@example.org