A fiercely contested contract to provide translation and transcription services to the European Parliament landed in favor of language tech developer RWS, company officials announced Wednesday.
Thanks to a technological platform designed by CEDAT85, parliamentary members can keep up on debates, speeches and presentations in real-time, plus review transcriptions online. The service will also provide accessibility for the hearing impaired.
“Winning such a competitive tender is a fantastic result and testament to the team’s commitment,” said Thomas Labarthe, President of RWS’s Language Services and Technology division. “Our end-to-end solution sets a new innovation benchmark for public sector organizations looking to digitize their multilingual processes.”
RWS is partnered with other organizations, including CEDAT85 and Bertin IT, to deliver these European Parliament services. RWS brings machine translation (MT) Language Weaver technology, while CEDAT85 delivers speech-to-text voice recognition and Bertin IT handles voice intelligence. Their combined efforts took the top position following an 18-month competitive evaluation.
“The bid process was organized in several phases, from pre-selection of suitable vendors to a preliminary award to three selected consortiums and a final evaluation of the best solution to be implemented moving forward,” George Bara, VP of Strategic Partnerships and RWS’s Delivery Manager for the project, told MultiLingual.
During the initial evaluation phase of the project, Translated and Microsoft were the two other consortiums selected alongside RWS. The development process led up to a final consideration in September 2021, with RWS ranking first.
“The European Parliament was bold enough to ‘dream big’ in addressing the issue of citizen access to information, and choose an innovation partnership framework for a fully automated solution, working closely with the vendors throughout the process,” said Bara. “Having an ‘always-on’ digital solution that can accurately translate the plenary sessions speeches opens many other opportunities for communicating with citizens across all the 24 EU languages, efficiently and on time.”
According to RWS, the technology shines through the combination of Language Weaver, which securely translates high-volume content across 3,000 languages, and CEDAT85’s speech recognition and speech-to-text tech, developed over 35 years. Company officials say a commercial version of their technology is in the works, for use in live-translated web conferences and training sessions.
The new technology will be in high demand thanks to the European Union’s (EU) dozens of official languages. Starting with the EU’s adoption of Dutch, French, German, Italian in 1958, it gradually added Danish, English, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Finnish, Swedish, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak, Slovene, Bulgarian, Irish, Romanian, and finally Croation in 2013, adding up to 24 total languages.
“We are extremely proud of this result which is down to the hard work of our team, alongside our consortium partners, who worked day and night to overcome the significant challenges involved in such an innovative initiative,” said Enrico Giannotti, Managing Director of CEDAT85.
Note: This article was updated with additional comments from RWS executives.