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Sault text-translation startup secures $900,000 in federal funds

Skritswap will use capital to advance artificial intelligence platform
Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan announced on June 10 funding of $900,000 for Melissa Kargiannakis to support the development of her online text-translation program Skritswap. (Supplied photo)

A Sault Ste. Marie tech startup is receiving $900,000 in federal funding to help advance her online text-translation platform.

Sault MP Terry Sheehan announced the funding for Melissa Kargiannakis in Ottawa on June 10.

“Sault Ste. Marie has a wealth of innovators like Melissa, eager to help drive our economy forward,” Sheehan said in a June 10 news release.

“Our government’s investment in her company, Skritswap Inc., will help unleash the economic and job creation potential of this homegrown and forward-thinking information technology company.”

Skritswap, first envisioned by Kargiannakis about six years ago, is an online literacy platform designed to make information on the internet easy to understand.

It uses artificial intelligence to “translate” jargon into clear text, adapting information to different reading levels. It helps people with low literacy skills more easily understand information, while gradually increasing their reading proficiency.

Kargiannakis’ first paying clients have come from the finance and insurance sectors, including the Business Development Bank of Canada and Manulife.

Of the $900,000 announced, $800,000 will come in the form of an interest-free loan, which will help Skritswap to build, test, and commercialize an artificial language platform to convert complex language found in technical documents – such as employment contracts, wills, or medical instructions – into plain, everyday language.

An additional grant of $100,000, provided through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, will pave the way for a new patent and support the company’s growth into the United States.

Kargiannakis expressed gratitude for the support to advance her business.

“In a year and a half, we have doubled in team size, creating jobs in artificial intelligence right here in Ontario,” Kargiannakis said in a news release.

“As a young, female founder who started this company in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, I am grateful for the resources from the Government of Canada to continue building on Skritswap’s momentum.”

Kargiannakis previously raised US$500,000 in pre-seed startup funding from a Silicon Valley, Calif.-based group of investors. She has also been a tenant at the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre.

She splits her time between Sault Ste. Marie and Silicon Valley.