By Ian McConnell

A GLASGOW-based firm, which describes itself as “the world’s first social intelligence company for the pharmaceutical industry”, has raised £1.1 million of funding to scale up its data technology platform for measuring patient sentiment.

Talking Medicines, led by chief executive Jo Halliday alongside co-founders Dr Elizabeth Fairley and Dr Scott Crae, will use the funds to support the launch and roll-out of a new artificial intelligence data platform, which will “translate what patients are saying into actionable pharma grade intelligence by providing a global patient confidence score by medicine”. As part of these development plans, Talking Medicines, formed in 2013, will recruit nine new employees for its natural language processing (NLP) data technology team.

Specialist Internet of Things investor Tern led the syndicated funding round, in which taxpayer-backed Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) arm also participated.

Talking Medicines is focused on “mapping the patient voice from social media and connected devices to regulated medicine information”, to “build data points to determine trends and patterns of patient sentiment across medicines”.

This intelligence is aimed at enabling pharmaceuticals companies to “make patient-centric marketing decisions, driving more effective medicines and marketing spend”.

A spokesman noted the "social listening" platform listened to conversations among people who are talking about medicines, health conditions, symptoms etcetera.

Talking Medicines then uses machine learning and NLP tools to translate those conversations into intelligence which the pharmaceuticals industry can use, filtering out what is irrelevant. The firm can also use data it collects from Medsmart, which now has around 100,000 users. Medsmart is an app which helps patients keep a digital log of all their medicines, including how and when to take them.

Talking Medicines has now raised £2.5m to date, including three previous seed funding rounds. Investors in previous rounds have included SIS Ventures and SIB.

Ms Halliday said: “We are delighted that Tern is joining our investor group, and [Tern chief executive] Al Sisto will be bringing his wealth of experience to the board. This investment will scale our team and the development of our AI, ML, NLP tech tools to translate what patients are saying into actionable pharma grade intelligence.”