Innovation & Enterprise


UCL startup transforms social spaces so everyone can hear and be heard

Mumbli is helping venues in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park think about and adjust their noise levels, so people can have conversations more easily.

Marion Marincat, founder of Mumbli

3 March 2023

The company has come up with the world’s first audio accessibility solution that uses smart sound monitoring in public social spaces. It’s about to be rolled out to more than 60 Olympic Park venues.

As well as making spaces a lot more pleasant for everyone, the technology will also make venues more accessible for people with hearing challenges and sensitivity to sound.

An entrepreneur on a mission

Mumbli was set up by Marion Marincat, a serial entrepreneur and part-time UCL student (Audiological Science MSc). Marion suddenly experienced an 80% reduction in his own hearing aged 26.

“I’d been an entrepreneur since I was 16. I’d built several companies. Everything was going great. And then over the course of six months, I experienced a significant reduction in hearing. As you can imagine, this came as quite a blow,” he said.

The experience led Marion to launch an audiology company called Hearology, before hitting on the idea for Mumbli.

“The more I looked, the more I saw our world simply isn’t designed for sound. It’s just not something we think about when we design our work and social spaces.

“When I lost my own hearing, I realised that places like hotels, bars and coffee shops had become very difficult spaces for me to socialise in because audible conversation became almost impossible due to excessive background noise.

“So I founded Mumbli. Our mission is to make all social environments ‘audio inclusive’ spaces, for all hearing preferences.”

Helping venues adjust noise levels

Mumbli’s smart sound monitoring devices are installed in venue ceilings to capture data on sound. Venues can then use the data to determine appropriate music volume levels, or to install acoustic equipment that reduces echo and reverb.

Initially, Mumbli’s devices capture continuous live data on noise and provide expertise to give a space an Audio Accessibility Score. If the venue score is high enough, they receive a CfS ("certified for sound") kite mark, valid for a year.

If a venue decides to keep the devices permanently, they then receive real time data on noise levels. They can sound map the venue to identify quiet zones, and receive support.

Support for disabled entrepreneurs

Marion got help with Mumbli through the East London Inclusive Enterprise Zone (ELIEZ), an inclusive innovation programme co-run by UCL and 12 partners.

Mumbli was one of 30 fledgling businesses, all with a shared focus on inclusivity, who received training and mentorship. The entrepreneurs also had access to a specially-designed accessible co-working space at Plexal at the heart of the Olympic Park.

“I found out about ELIEZ when I was about to start my audiological science master’s at the UCL Hearing Institute. It made perfect sense to me, as I was both disabled and solving a problem for people with a disability.

“It took me quite a long time to accept and integrate the fact I have a disability, so being part of a programme so focused on all aspects of disability was very powerful.

“As part of ELIEZ, amazing introductions were made that gave us access to the Olympic Park venues. We ran trials with six of them, thanks to a grant from Innovate UK secured with help from the Innovate UK EDGE team (now Innovate UK Business Growth team) in UCL Innovation & Enterprise. And we’re about to roll out our technology to another 60 venues. That’s been an incredible result for us.

“We were also fortunate to tap into other support from the Innovate UK EDGE team, including help with intellectual property, pitching and branding. And we’ve worked with over 80 interns from five universities, including UCL. I’ve been very humbled by that, that so many people have wanted to come on this journey with us.”

Making a difference to users and venues

Signorelli Bakery is one of the venues who’ve installed Mumbli’s technology to monitor and reduce their noise levels. Signorelli’s owner Rebecca Stevenson Rosmini, explains:

“Cafes tend to use hard surfaces like exposed brick that don’t need washing often, so you end up with a lot of sound reverberating in the space. What we are seeing is more and more people trying to work in our cafes, too – which can be difficult if there’s lots of noise. 

“Now, thanks to this new technology, we’ve been able to make adjustments which have had a huge impact on how people feel in our venue – and how much time they spend with us. I would recommend this technology to all hospitality venues to try. The difference it can make is extraordinary.”


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Photo © Rahil Ahmad (rahil@rahil.co.uk)

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