An eight-person Israeli start-up that provides therapeutic language and speech technologies will now expand its services to North America, after the company signed a joint venture contract with New York’s Mount Sinai Health System.
The Ra’anana-based Novotalk provides on-demand, self-directed speech and language courses for individuals suffering from stuttering and other speech problems.
One of the company’s founders, Moshe Roth, struggles with stuttering. After completing the Hadassah Medical Center course for people who stutter, Roth wanted to create a way for patients like himself to practice speech lessons.
Eventually, he developed his own modules for the course, and had a hunch that the lessons could be done without assistance from clinicians.
“Over time, we discovered that our algorithms are providing much better feedback or much more accurate feedback than the actual clinician,” said Novotalk CEO and chairman Zohar Beeri. “This is when we realized that maybe there’s no need for clinicians to be there.”
Novotalk, a small company run by eight full-time employees and five off-shore developers, expanded its services to other speech issues beyond stuttering and partnered with Hadassah in 2014 to provide services throughout Israel. The on-demand tele-therapy technology allows patients to practice therapeutic modalities that can lessen, and in some cases, cure speech disabilities and impediments.
Beeri said that a year-and-a-half ago, the company started making plans to expand its global reach. “For us, it was somewhat intuitive that the first market we would enter in would be the US.”
Worldwide, 1.5 billion people suffer from voice disorders or speech problems. Roughly 1% of the population suffers from chronic stuttering, which is a lifelong challenge, Beeri said.
“We started exploring, and [Mount Sinai] was the best option available for us,” he said, also noting the organization’s Jewish origins.
Beeri said it was a “dream come true” for Novotalk to be partnering with such a big American company like Mount Sinai, which he said gives the start-up a stamp of credibility.
“Mount Sinai aims to advance breakthroughs that benefit patients. We look forward to expanding Novotalk’s proven capabilities in delivering on-demand tele-therapy to our clinical setting, so that we may better serve our patient population,” said Erik Lium, executive vice president of Mount Sinai Innovation Partners.
Novotalk expects its products will be available in the New York metropolitan area by the end of 2018, and will be expanded to other states shortly after the initial launch.