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Grant helps us get chatty with AI to help business cope with COVID-19

We are delighted to announce that Versantus are to receive a significant grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, as part of a new £40m fund designed to accelerate high-tech advances that will benefit individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

There was an overwhelming response when this important competition was announced in April, with over 8,600 applications from across the UK. After a rigorous selection process, Versantus was chosen as one of the innovative businesses that had the expertise and capacity to deliver exciting new technological advances during the current crisis.

Can we ease some of the burden businesses are facing with communication?

Businesses that have in the past communicated face-to-face (physical or virtual) are now overwhelmed by the impact of COVID-19:

• Increased working from home
• Increased anxiety and questions leading to more telephone and online queries
• Increased absence due to sickness amongst front-line responders

All of these combine to limit service efficiency, increase wait times, increase frustration and degrade the present and future relationship with their customers. At this time of increased social isolation, many people want to talk to a human to have their questions answered, but businesses are not able to cope.

How we propose to resolve these problems

We’ve been developing clever, conversational AI applications for a number of years, from answering complex questions about sporting events through to voice based commerce on the Alexa & Google Assistant platforms, and most recently a conversational application that performs triage of chocolate toxicity in dogs for a large veterinary group.

With such a wealth of experience and the support from Innovate UK, we’re building the free Chatterbox platform that will help businesses of all sizes deal with a much higher volume of inbound queries in a human-like way. This will allow them to continue providing excellent customer service, retaining and building customer loyalty, and improving their revenues both during and after the pandemic.

Accessible to all

We want to make Chatterbox accessible to all regardless of technical prowess. A simple user interface and workflow will put the power in users’ hands, allowing them to build, test and launch their chatbot capable of handling business and support conversations without the need for technical expertise and with the minimum of fuss.

Nik Roberts, Founder and Managing Director of Versantus is excited by this opportunity to accelerate product development:

“At Versantus we have a strong culture of learning and innovation, and this grant will allow our team to move even further and faster. Businesses are struggling in so many ways right now, and we believe that Chatterbox will help to relieve some of the pressure, so that they can focus on delivering outstanding customer service and strengthening their bottom line.

Like many small businesses, we’ve had to adapt rapidly during the pandemic, and I’m pleased to say that our team have risen to the challenge brilliantly. One of our core values is “Being Good”, and if we can use our skills to help other SMEs then I’m satisfied we’re doing the right thing.”

Announcing the grant funding, Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said:

“The coronavirus crisis has created challenges that impact the way we live, work and travel but has also prompted a wave of new innovations as businesses look at ways to solve some of the challenges facing our world today. This funding will support UK start-ups to deliver potential solutions, services and ways of working and help ensure the long term sustainability of these businesses.”

The Chatterbox project will start to deliver results during Summer 2020. This is just the start and we have ambitious plans for the future – stay tuned!