Written by Llinos Iorwerth, Director, Ateb
Creators of a brand-new bilingual digital events platform are calling on investors to help them challenge sector giants, including the likes of Zoom and Hopin.
The north Wales-based team at Haia has developed a product designed to be friendlier and more accessible than its largest competitors – one which can rise to the challenge of meeting and exceeding expectations of online and hybrid events.
It offers real time text and voice translation in Welsh, and will develop over time to offer additional languages. The platform can also facilitate hybrid events and has built-in accessibility features so that anyone can use it – USPs its creators believe that make it stand out from rivals in the market. Now nearing launch, Haia is looking for around £1.5million to take it to the next level.
Tom Burke is one the new platform’s founder. He explains: “This is an opportunity to invest in a market which has an estimated growth of $269.20 billion over the next five years. We’re looking for investors who share our vision for inclusive, usable technology that improves people’s experiences of online events and changes communication for the better.
“In early trials Haia has already proved to be a game changer for multilingual web-based and hybrid events – brining real innovation to this market. It allows users to create events which connect people in ways they can anywhere else.”
Pryderi ap Rhisiart is Managing Director of Wales’ first science park, M-SParc, and a partner in the venture, he said: “We’re really excited to be part of the Haia team and look forward to seeing the difference it will make to Welsh language on-line events and networking. We have worked closely with Canolfan Bedwyr at Bangor University to develop its multilingual capabilities, it’s the first of its kind. It also ties into the Government’s ‘Cymraeg 2050’ strategy, which outlines how technology can help reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
“We realise online meeting platforms have been around for a while, the last year has shown us how useful they can be, but also where the shortfalls are. We need to do more to include everybody including Welsh-speakers. This is exactly what Haia aims to do – taking what we’ve learnt from 18 months of remote networking and socialising and adding the human touch.”
Professor Delyth Prys of Canolfan Bedwyr, Bangor Univeristy added: “There is huge potential in Wales to use Welsh as a platform to experiment with new multilingual products. At Bangor University we promote language technologies in industry by passing on our latest research in speech technology and machine translation to help create exciting new products like Haia. We look forward to seeing it being used.”
With its multilingual capabilities Haia has attracted the attention of large cultural events and high-profile individuals including BBC broadcaster Huw Edwards, who said: “This is one of the most exciting developments in Wales at the moment. This ground-breaking project is likely to revolutionise our ideas about translation and technology.”
Aiming to launch in September, confidence in Haia is riding high. It has already attracted £470k from an Innovate UK fund, private equity and early sign-ups. It has also been shortlisted as a Rising Star in the Wales start-up awards.
Click to view short film on Haia
Image Caption: Lois Shaw, Andy Esser, Tom Burke, Anna Burke and Pryderi ap Rhisiart.
About the author:
Llinos Iorwerth is a director with Ateb – a north Wales based communications company, working across Wales with private and public sector clients