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Deaf Smart Space startup Visualfy secures €2.55M with Horizon 2020 boost

deaf startup funding horizon 2020
Written by Tim Hinchliffe

With the ability to translate sounds into visual notifications with its Deaf Smart Space devices, Visualfy secures 2.55 million euros, including a boost from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 progam.

The latest round of funding for the Valencia-based startup was led by Ship2B and Inelcom, in addition to Horizon 2020.

With this 2.55 million euros, Visualfy will be able to develop and commercialize its Deaf Smart Space (DSS) device that transforms the sounds of the user’s environment into notifications on a smartphone, smartwatch, and other mobile devices.

deaf startup funding horizon 2020

Manel Alcaide

“Our goal is to have about 12,000 users in the first year of commercializing the DSS for home use, but not only this, we are working to implement this technology in public places such as airports or hospitals, something that would definitely change the lives of deaf people,” said Manel Alcaide, CEO at Visualfy.

After passing through Tech4Health, the investment and acceleration platform for startups in the health sector, Visualfy managed to close an investment round, with 1,200,000 coming from Ship2B and Inelcom and other business angels, and was complemented by Horizon 2020 with 1,350,000 euros.

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 360 million people suffering from hearing loss in the world.

In Spain there are more than one million people affected by deafness or some type of hearing difficulty. For deaf people, acting in front of situations such as the cry of a baby or a fire alarm becomes a challenge.

deaf startup funding horizon 2020

Deaf Smart Space device

The Deaf Smart Space is a pioneering system that listens to sounds at home through its microphones and sends all the information to a SmartPhone, SmartWatch or Smart TV.

For example, if someone rings the doorbell, the DSS shows two green vibrations; for babies crying, three yellow vibrations; and four red vibrations for when the fire alarm goes off, etc.

Visualfy also has an accompanying app that interprets received notifications in a visual and sensorial way, illuminating the green screen when receiving a WhatsApp message or blue for Facebook notices.

deaf startup funding horizon 2020

Maite Fibla

“Visualfy is a magnificent example of how not only has an innovative device been created that will help improve the lives of deaf people, but it is also a leading technology project and interesting for investors,” said Maite Fibla, co-Founder at Ship2B and director at Tech4Health.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.

A total of 262 small and medium-sized companies have been selected for funding under the latest round of Horizon 2020’s SME Instrument. The total amount to be distributed to the companies under both Phases of the program is €114.237 million. With this funding, companies will be able to finance their innovation activities ranging from feasibility studies to market launch.

According to the European Commission, 69 small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) from 22 countries were selected for funding in the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2.

The total amount to be distributed between the SMEs working on 62 projects is €104.587 million. In this phase of the SME Instrument, each project will receive up to €2.5 million (€5 million for health projects) to finance innovation activities like demonstration, testing, piloting and scaling up. The companies will also benefit from 12 days of business coaching and free business acceleration services.

Spanish SMEs were the most successful with 16 companies selected for funding. They were followed by companies from Italy (11), Sweden (6) and Germany (5). The majority of projects are in the field of transport (9), energy (9) and ICT (8).

About the author

Tim Hinchliffe

Tim Hinchliffe is a journalist, editor, and regular contributor on the tech scene. Previously, he was a reporter for The Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa, and Colombia Reports in South America.