Finnish Industry Investment makes a seeding investment in Puheentunnistus

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Finnish Industry Investment Ltd (FII) has made a seeding investment in Suomen Puheentunnistus Ltd. Puheentunnistus has developed a Finnish-language automatic speech recognition (ASR) application that can handle, for instance, routine customer service calls normally handled by human helpdesk staff.

"We have, in fact, taught computers to understand spoken Finnish as well as to speak Finnish," explains Esa Rimpiläinen, CEO of Suomen Puheentunnistus. "The system understands all Finnish accents. We collected 10,000 voice samples from Finns when developing the application."

"The demand was generated by consumers, who are fed up with holding the line in queue to give or receive simple and routine information, such as to place an order or notify a change of address. Our ASR application can handle such calls very effectively, freeing customer service personnel for more demanding tasks."

"The ASR server saves the information given by the caller in a database, and converts the information in the database into normal speech for the caller."

Finnish Industry Investment Ltd is a government-owned investment company and Finland's leading provider of seed financing. The company makes capital investments in Finnish companies during their seeding and growth phases so that they can expand the operations, grow into large-scale enterprises and internationalize. In 2004 FII launched a EUR 50 million seed-financing programme to speed up the seeding phase of companies. So far FII has invested in 56 companies in this programme. An individual investment in a target company ranges from EUR 50,000 to EUR 1 million.

"The ASR service model developed by Suomen Puheentunnistus Ltd opens up fantastic opportunities for growth in the company's operations," says FII's Director Mika Räsänen.

"The timing of FII's display of confidence is excellent. It will enable us to launch our product and start generating sales," says CEO Rimpiläinen. "In addition to providing stability, capital investment gives a small company credibility. As customers, large corporations want to be sure that cooperation stretching for years into the future has a sound financial basis."

Based in Lahti, Finland, Suomen Puheentunnistus Ltd was established just over one year ago and currently employs seven people.

Finnish Industry Investment Ltd (FII)
is a government-owned investment company administered by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The company invests the proceeds accrued from the privatization of state-owned companies in promoting the growth and internationalization of Finnish businesses. FII is Finland's leading provider of seed financing. FII's investments and investment commitments amount to some EUR 330 million.

Suomen Puheentunnistus Ltd (PUH.e) is a speech technology company that has co-developed with IBM a high-quality Finnish language speech recognition and text-to-voice application that covers all Finnish accents and dialects. The application is integrated into IBM's WebSphere Voice software.

Further information:

Mika Räsänen, Director, Finnish Industry Investment Ltd
Tel. +358-9-6803 6817 and +358-50-352 9984,

Esa Rimpiläinen, CEO, Suomen Puheentunnistus Ltd
Tel. +358-3-3393 3301 and +358-400-481 509,