Liopa secures Seed Round

Liopa has secured $1million in funding – led by its initial backers, techstart NI, and QUBIS – which will enable it to commercialise the LipRead platform and actively market it for global use. Its latest investors include the AI Seed Fund which exclusively supports start-ups that harness Artificial Intelligence to create leading edge tech solutions. The funding round was also supported by Co-Fund NI which is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers.

Liopa 1

Liam McQuillan (Liopa CEO), Richard McConnell (Liopa COO), Hal Wilson (TSNI), David Crozier (CSIT)

Developed following 10 years of research by the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University, LipRead uses the camera on a smartphone or tablet to analyse lip movement and decipher words and phrases.

LipRead’s primary function will be improving the accuracy of commonly used voice-driven assistants (such as Siri, Cortana or Alexa) and voice activated applications in noisy environments such as vehicles, offices & factories.

Other potential uses of the lip-reading technology, which will be multi-lingual, include:
– An aid for the hard of hearing via automated subtitling
– Word/phrase search in uploaded video
– Human-robotic interaction; and
– Preventing authentication fraud (aka Anti-spoofing)

Confirming the latest funding milestone, Liam McQuillan said: “Voice is forecast to overtake the keyboard and mouse as the primary means of interacting with mobile & computing applications. The big stumbling block however is the accuracy of current voice technologies in real world environments – commands get misinterpreted frequently due to background noise. LipRead will augment current technologies and provide this much needed accuracy, thus ensuring the success of the ‘Voice UI’.

Hal Wilson of techstart NI added his support: “Liopa brings together great technology, a strong team and an exciting market opportunity This latest funding round marks a significant step forward and will support the team’s plans to bring the LipRead technology to market.”

As another early stage funder, John Spindler, General Partner at AI Seed said: “Liopa is a great example of a team with a pedigree of research tackling challenges in visual speech recognition using the latest advances in machine learning.”

Liopa is led by seasoned entrepreneurs Liam McQuillan and Richard McConnell. Together they have been involved in the creation of several indigenous NI tech start-up companies that have successfully developed software products for the worldwide market and have achieved substantial exit values.

Dr Darryl Stewart and Dr Fabian Campbell-West, world-renowned authorities in Visual Speech Recognition & Computer Vision, are also part of the Liopa team and have spearheaded the research behind LipRead.

Liopa raise pre-seed funding

Liopa recently completed a ‘pre-seed’ funding round designed to take the company through development of technology demonstrator and early market proving.

Liopa CEO, Liam McQuillan, commented “we are greatly encouraged by the willingness of our investor partners to support us at this early point in our journey.  This strong backing, clear market need for our Visual Speech recognition technology and our exceptionally strong founding team give Liopa every chance to succeed”

Liopa win Regional Final of Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition

Liopa were today named the best new start and best early stage companies respectively at the regional final of the 2016 InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition.

With a global market for the technology, Liopa’s CEO, Liam McQuillan, viewed the Seedcorn process as an opportunity to develop the company’s pitch as Liopa gained exposure to the investment community.  They will use the prize money to assist in the production of the first market-ready product.

Now in its 14th year, Seedcorn is the island’s biggest business competition for new start and early stage companies in any sector, from any part of the island.  The competition, aimed at companies which have a new equity funding requirement, has an overall cash prize fund of €280,000, with no equity stake taken.  Since its inception in 2003, companies that have gone through Seedcorn and reached regional final level, have leveraged in excess of €200m.  Encouragingly, so far for last year alone, this figure stands at more than €10 million.

InterTradeIreland Picture Conor McCabe Photography

InterTradeIreland Picture Conor McCabe Photography

Photo – SeedCorn CEO Connor Sweeney with Liopa’s Liam McQuillan

Liopa completes spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast

Liopa have completed the ‘spin-out’ process from Queen’s University, Belfast.  The founding team have been joined by Belfast-based hi-tech start-up veterans Liam McQuillan and Richard McConnell and by Richard Davidson, ex-Principal Software Architect at Intel/AePONA. Queen’s University retain a shareholding in the company through their Research Commercialisation vehicle, QUBIS.

Liopa CEO, Liam McQuillan, commented “We have a exceptionally strong founding team within Liopa with a proven track record in creating and developing hi-tech software product start-ups, and in achieving high shareholder ROI on exit. We have world leading expertise in the fields of image processing, facial, phoneme and viseme analytics and an in-depth knowledge in the design of highly resilient and scalable software solution.  All this, coupled with strong commercial skills makes me very confident

Liopa selected as Finalist in IPASCO ICT Security Awards

Ipacso

Liopa were recently selected as a Finalist in the prestigious IPASCO ICT Security awards.  Liopa’s unique Lip-based Biometric Authentication solution impressed the judges in this highly competitive category.

Liopa CEO, Liam McQuillan, commented “It’s great to get such a strong validation of our unique solution from the IPASCO panel of experts – both from a technical and market perspective.  We plan to commercially launch our solution by mid-2016 and this type of recognition will undoubtedly help in our roll-out”

ABOUT IPASCO AWARDS :- IPACSO (Innovation Framework for Privacy and Cyber Security Market Opportunities) is a private consortium aimed at supporting Privacy and Cyber Security innovations in Europe. Its aim is to support ICT Security innovators with State of the Art methodologies and best practices in their innovation process, that will help them to find their road to market faster, more effective and more efficient. IPACSO is supported by the European Commission, and aims to improve the competitiveness of the European Cyber Security & Privacy market. Each year in October, Europe’s most innovative and forward-thinking researchers and entrepreneurs gather in Brussels, recognising those who are bolstering Europe’s cyber security landscape. With the awards, the IPACSO consortium, supported by the European Commission under FP7, support Privacy and Cyber Security Innovations ‘Made in Europe’.

Liopa secures category win at 25K Awards

Liopa has been named the winner of the Software and Digital Media category, sponsored by Intel, at the 25k Awards. The team was one of two spin out ventures competing in this category being incubated by the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) based at Queen’s University Belfast’s ECIT Institute.

The prestigious annual 25k awards, which are sponsored by Bank of Ireland, are made under the NISP CONNECT entrepreneurship programme, based at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. The awards are designed to showcase the most innovative research and intellectual property from the publicly funded institutions in Northern Ireland.

David Crozier pictured with category sponsor Michael Black of Intel after winning the Digital Media & Software Award at the NISP CONNECT 25k Awards 2013, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, on Thursday 26th September 2013.

David Crozier pictured with category sponsor Michael Black of Intel after winning the Digital Media & Software Award at the NISP CONNECT 25k Awards, sponsored by Bank of Ireland.

Liopa won the Software and Digital Media category for the development of our biometric technology that authenticates people using lip movement, replacing passwords. This technology will enable more robust authentication and verification solutions designed for preventing fraud and theft in mobile commerce.

To date, we have taken the technology out of the lab environment with end-to-end user enrolment and verification now running on mobile device’s over the mobile data network. This work has been funded and supported by the UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB) through their “Preventing fraud in mCommerce” Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) call.

Commenting on the success David Crozier Liopa co-founder said:

“We are delighted that our technology and potential has been recognised by the judging panel of the 25k Awards. The support we have received throughout this process has enabled us to bring Liopa to a point where we are actively engaging with potential new customers globally. I would also pay credit to my fellow team members – Dr Darryl Stewart, Dr Michael Loughlin and Dr Fabian Campbell West – without their research and engineering Liopa would never have become a reality”

Congratulating both teams Prof John McCanny, ECIT Director and CSIT Principal Investigator commented:

“As an Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC), CSIT’s remit is to accelerate the commercialisation of world class science and emerging technologies into new products, processes or services. Liopa is an exemplars of the cross-functional approach we take to driving innovation featuring team members from across our research, engineering and business development disciplines. Well done to Liopa for winning the category.”