Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

IT firm raises £2.5m in funding

Sophia chairman Chris Horn
Sophia chairman Chris Horn

One of Northern Ireland's most successful homegrown IT companies has managed to raise $3.7m (£2.5m) in funding.

Sophia Search, which is based at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast, will use the money to ramp up its marketing and sales in the US and to speed up the development of new products.

The company, headed by industry veteran Chris Horn and originally a spin out from the University of Ulster, specialises in improving ad placement and automatically finding weblinks for related online content, helping advertisers target the right audience.

Investment in the so-called Series A round funding was led by Atlantic Bridge, an equity fund based in Dublin.

"Sophia's unique solution has shown it can greatly increase customers' ability to work with large data sets, giving insight and understanding into content that previously was unavailable," said Elaine Coughlan, partner and lead investor, Atlantic Bridge. "We were impressed by the list of US Tier 1 customers that Sophia is already working with in the advertising and publishing sectors, and we look forward to supporting the team as they continue to grow in this new and exciting space."

Sophia Search partners with the likes of IBM and Logica while it counts Random House, Lead Horse Technologies and Motoricity amongst its customers.

The company said its product allows advertisers to achieve up to three times higher click-through rates by providing more relevant ad content without using cookies.

"This new funding will ensure that Sophia is well positioned to lead this market and is a strong endorsement of the world-class technology in Northern Ireland," said the chairman of Sophia Search and NISP CONNECT programme chairman Dr Chris Horn.

David Patterson, CEO said: "Having a top tier institutional investor like Atlantic Bridge leading our financing round is a powerful endorsement of our strategy, technology, customer success and team. This funding gives us the means to scale the business further in the north American market and create more jobs in Northern Ireland."

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