Rhetorical Systems expands

Speech synthesis company, Rhetorical Systems has secured GBP4.3 million to continue its expansion into worldwide markets. The capital will enable the company to expand the current sales, marketing and support functions in both European and US markets. The fund raising, undertaken by Bell Lawrie White, has attracted major investments from Scottish Equity Partners, Pentech Ventures, Friends Ivory & Sime, Capital for Companies, Artemis and Pennine VCT.

Rhetorical develops software capable of transforming written words or texts into natural sounding speech. With a wide variety of accents and speaking styles, the company is currently working with telephony, games and Internet organisations.

The company’s core product, rVoice was launched in May 2001 and currently offers six different voices ranging from a Bronx drawl to a Scots accent. Rhetorical has expanded rapidly and has grown from just two members of staff to over 40 in just 18 months.

The global market for Rhetorical’s text to speech application is estimated to be worth around $6 billion by 2005. Gary Le Sueur of Scottish Equity Partners, one of the company’s largest investors, said: “The company’s rVoice technology appears to be the strongest offering in this market, and with endorsements from Philips and Nuance, we believe it is well placed to be successful in a variety of sectors, including call centres and in-car navigation.”