Using ground-breaking technology, their aim was to create a fun and effective way for people with neurological conditions to do speech and language therapy. By simplifying and enhancing therapy delivery they are now helping hundreds of people to improve their communication issues with ease.
We caught up with Beautiful Voice’s founder, Andre Hallack, who tells us their success story. “The other co-founders and I met studying together at the University of Oxford. We have all studied neurological conditions and the technology available to help patients. We got to meet a lot of stroke survivors, neuroconsultants, people with Parkinson’s disease and this is when we realised there were lots of unmet needs of speech and language therapy for these people.
Communication issues can be really debilitating. To overcome these issues, people need to be doing speech and language therapy every day, at least 45 minutes per day, but there just aren’t enough resources to provide this. So, we started having discussions with consultants and speech and language therapists and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool to compliment what speech and language therapists do in clinic, but at home?’. So those who need additional therapy or don’t have a therapist at all, can do speech therapy by themselves at home, as much as they want and need. So, in January 2022 Beautiful Voice was born.
Andre explains how Beautiful Voice’s innovative technology works. “We created a digital platform with an engaging user experience and an element of gamification to make it more fun for the patient. You can also personalise it, based on topics of your interest. So if you like football, the exercise content will be tailored around football, for example. You can set up exercises and quizzes on certain subjects (such as your favourite band). We also incorporated AI and signal processing to be able to listen to the person when they are doing their exercises and give them live feedback on their progress and suggest therapy materials based on what we heard.
The platform is also built for therapists. They have access to all the tools so that they can monitor how their patients are doing. With a few clicks they can create bespoke exercises, which saves them time creating homework for their patients, allowing them to take more clients while providing better care.”
As a start-up business based in Oxfordshire, Beautiful Voice were eligible for no cost business support from OxLEP Business. Andre tells us how he connected with OxLEP, and how their support made a difference. “As a new business, with our platform still in development, we were looking for external support and investment. We received an email from OxLEP Business about potential grant opportunities to boost Oxfordshire
based businesses. We then visited their website and completed the business support tool which signposted us to the Innovation Support for Business programme (ISfB). We applied for the Go-Create grant, quite late on in the process, in fact we only had one week to complete the application. The team at OxLEP were very helpful, they gave us one-to-one support and helped us through the process and guided us every step of the way. Without their support we probably wouldn’t have been able to complete the application in time. But we succeeded and were awarded the funding.”
"We were very happy because the grant enabled us to accelerate through the final phase of product development for our platform."
Andre continues, “We used the funding to work with a digital product designer who helped us refine the design, button interactions and overall user journey on the platform, which made it launch ready. The grant allowed us to get our platform to a professional level for commercialisation. Without this funding we wouldn’t have been able to launch the platform when we did, which was in May this year.”
Alongside the grant funding from OxLEP, Andre also took part in a number of ISfB webinars and events. He elaborates, “We attended some innovation events which were great. You’re put in a space with other like-minded entrepreneurs and also surrounded by experts who have many years’ experience in business. If you’re new to being an entrepreneur, it’s so valuable to learn from other businesses and experienced innovators. It also opened up networks and opportunities in the county for us. OxLEP’s webinars are great. They are run by specialists on a variety of subjects. As an entrepreneur you often think that you don’t have time to do these things, but you must make time because they are so valuable.”
Andre shares the exciting next steps for Beautiful Voice. “Since its launch the platform has been going
really well. Feedback has been very positive, with people saying the platform is making a difference
and it’s easy to use, which was the main goal of this project. We have multiple clinics using the platform and hundreds of patients using it too.”
He continues, “We have a lot of ambition. Soon we’re about to start a pilot with a large neuro rehab centre which is very exciting and a great testament to the amazing progress we have made. We‘ve also received a grant from the NHS which will allow us to collaborate with the University of Manchester to test the platform over two months so we can see how people progress over a period of time. We’re going to be working with Oxfordshire University Hospitals to identify how our platform can fit into the NHS, a project that is incredibly big and exciting for us.
We’ve also applied to patent the technology which will be fantastic to have in place. And, in the future,
we want to expand to Children’s therapy as well.
It’s with big thanks to OxLEP Business that we are in this strong position. Their organisation is clearly helping and encouraging business growth in the region. A start-up business needs external support to make a difference. For us, their help has put us a number of months ahead of where we would have been otherwise. We wouldn’t be selling now had it not been for OxLEP’s support.”