A translation company that uses artificial intelligence alongside human editors has raised $23 million from investors including Microsoft Ventures.
Unbabel, which is currently in Microsoft’s UK accelerator programme for start-ups, is being used by travel, retail and digital companies to automatically translate their websites, emails or other content into dozens of languages.
The firm said it will use the money, which takes its total funding so far to more than $30 million, to increase development of its product and expand internationally. Unbabel was founded in Portugal and also has an office in San Francisco.
“We started this business with the ambition to reach the 70% of internet users who don’t speak English, even as a second language,” said Chief Executive and Co-Founder Vasco Pedro. “But the demand for global brands to serve customers in their native language has accelerated so fast that Unbabel must now take the next step of scale to meet it.
“Our mission is unique, and has attracted some of the finest minds and partners in machine learning and Software as a Service to achieve it. In an Unbabel-powered internet, every business will be able to go global from day one.”
Microsoft runs seven accelerators across the world. They help companies grow their business by offering free use of office space; one-to-one mentorship and support; a curriculum featuring workshops on market strategy, fundraising, finance, intellectual property law, and marketing; open-source-friendly Azure cloud credits and free software; and access to Microsoft’s products and potential investors.
Itxaso del Palacio Aguirre, a Partner at Microsoft Ventures, said: “We’re excited to support Unbabel as they bring their AI-powered human translations to more enterprises around the world. By positioning themselves at the nexus of machine translation and professional services, Unbabel offers a unique solution to help organizations reach more customers, more effectively, at scale.”
Unbabel has used its residency to develop its technology, which uses neural machine translation, natural language processing and quality estimation algorithms to translate text. Human editors – Unbabel has 55,000 of them – then refine the work, before AI takes over again to ensure it is accurate.
The technology is being used by companies including easyJet, Maclaren, Lush and Buzzfeed, among others.
Unbabel’s fundraising was also supported by Salesforce Ventures, Samsung Next, Scale Venture Partners, Notion Capital, Caixa Capital and Funders Club.