Search ends with €100,000 top prize
Belfast technology firm Sophia Search has won one of the top awards at InterTradeIreland's all-island Seedcorn Business Competition.
Sophia Search was crowned the best high growth company at an event in Dublin, taking home a â‚¬100,000 prize.
Limerick company Cauwill Technologies won the other top award for best emerging company among firms from all regions of the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Sophia Search was founded in 2007 by Drs David Patterson and Vladimir Dobrynin.
Based at the NI Science Park in Belfast and in St Petersburg, Russia, they have developed ground breaking semantic search technology which enables companies and organisations to intelligently search their ever increasing volumes of documents and unstructured information, whether it resides internally or external to the organisation.
Chief executive, Dr David Patterson said: "Winning the competition is a tremendous boost for our business.
"Being selected as overall high growth winner will bring excellent validation and credibility to our business plan and put us on a new platform with investors."
Seedcorn, the largest business competition on the island with a â‚¬360,000 prize fund, aims to stimulate new start-up activity, accelerate commercial development and create more opportunities for private equity investment.
A total of 225 entries to the competition were received, a 30% increase on last year's total and the largest number of entries since the competition began
Eight companies made it through to the finals based on the quality of their business plan and an investment pitch to an independent panel of judges, including leading entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and private investors.
Regional winners - which included Lisburn firm Cocoon - walked away from the competition with a minimum prize of â‚¬25,000 each.
The event was attended by An TÃ¡naiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Mary Coughlan TD, who said: "Both companies typify the island's entrepreneurial spirit, using their ideas and vision to develop a product or service with innovative and commercially viable technology to break new ground in a growing market."