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Liopa receives Innovate UK financial award during the Covid crisis

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BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – 30 July 2020Liopa today announced that the company has successfully achieved funding from Innovate UK in its “Funding Competition for Business-led Innovation in Response to Global Disruption.” The financial award is part of a £40m package from the UK government to bolster technology and research-focused companies who are working to build resilience during the Covid crisis.

From Gov.uk:
“The competition aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the Coronavirus crisis while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups – helping to build the businesses of tomorrow and propel their future prosperity.”

Liam McQuillan
Liam McQuillan

Of the overall fund, Liopa has received a significant investment for R&D for its SRAVI application – a communications aid for patients who cannot speak, such as those who have a tracheostomy as a result of Covid complications. SRAVI provides automated lip reading in a mobile phone app, so people can communicate with healthcare workers, or their friends and family, while they cannot use their voice.

SRAVI is being trialed in a pilot study with the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, led by Consultant in Critical Care and Anaesthesia, Shondipon Laha.

About the project, Dr Laha said:
“Covid has created significantly more patients with tracheostomies. There is a great deal of interest, on a national scale, in the rehabilitation and long-term challenges of caring for Covid patients. Any communications aid, including SRAVI, is a badly needed lifeline for these patients.”

Patients who have been tracheostomized as a result of being on ventilators will sometimes have the tracheostomy in place for up to four weeks, Dr Laha indicated. “For those patients, engaging with SRAVI to communicate may improve their outcomes,” he said.

For the time period until 26 June 2020:

• There were 12,881 admissions to hospital for critical care from Covid (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) [Source: ICNARC]
• 60 per cent of patients were mechanically ventilated within the first 24 hours (5,820 out of 9,694 patients) [Source: ICNARC]
• Patients who remain on ventilators for longer than 10 days will typically require a tracheostomy
• At least 1,200 Covid patients have been tracheostomised to date

Dr Laha said, “Tracheostomies are breathing tubes placed below the level of the vocal cords. That means that patients cannot make a sound. We can only resort to lipreading these patients, which is clearly frustrating for patients, their medical care team, and their families. Liopa has worked with us to develop the SRAVI app which uses machine learning to analyse a person's lip movements and display the phrase on the screen.”

He concluded, “This prototype, trialed successfully on our critical care unit, shows very exciting results.”

Liam McQuillan, CEO of Liopa said, “The further funding award from Innovate UK will make it possible for us to widen the scope of our R&D efforts for SRAVI. Eventually it will mean we can roll SRAVI out to more types of patients, such as those who have suffered paralysis or strokes. We are dedicated to helping bring a voice to the voiceless.”

Notes to Editors

About the Fast Start competition:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/40m-boost-for-cutting-edge-start-ups

About Innovate UK:
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/innovate-uk

About Liopa’s SRAVI application:
SRAVI brings a voice to the voiceless through a mobile phone-based lipreading app. Sign up for our trial, or find out more, at www.sravi.ai.

About Liopa:
Liopa is one of the world’s only startups focused on automated lip reading, using deep learning techniques. Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Liopa has been borne out of PhD research at Queen’s University Belfast. Find out more at www.liopa.ai

About Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust:
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides district general hospital services to a local community of 390,000, and specialist services to 1.5m across Lancashire and South Cumbria. Services are provided from Royal Preston Hospital, Chorley and South Ribble Hospital and the Specialist Mobility and Rehabilitation Centre, as well as a wide range of services in community settings and at other hospitals in the region. Find out more at www.lancsteachinghospitals.nhs.uk

Press contact
Emily McDaid
Marketing Manager, Liopa
Emily.mcdaid@liopa.co.uk
+44 (0)745 609 4649