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Aepona targets overseas growth after fund boost

Belfast software firm Aepona is aiming to step up its growth in overseas markets after securing $10m (£6.7m) in new funding from venture capitalists.

The company, which supplies software to global telecommunications operators, said the vote of confidence from investors stemmed from its 50% jump in revenues last year and forecasts of a similar increase in 2010.

The latest funding is aimed at accelerating the company's growth by strengthening its sales, marketing and business development resources across key markets in North America, Europe and the Middle East, and helping take advantage of growing demand for mobile-enabled applications.

Toronto-based BlackBerry Partners Fund led the funding round, which was also backed by existing Aepona investors Amadeus Capital Partners, Polaris Ventures, Innovacom, Nordic Venture Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures.

Marc Faucher from BlackBerry Partners said the fund believes Aepona was ideally positioned to capitalise on the major trends shaping the future of the mobile industry and is "poised for significant growth".

Aepona is headquartered in Belfast, and has sales offices in the UK and Ireland, mainland Europe, North America and Sri Lanka. It currently employs 180 people.

The firm produces software that enables broadband and mobile phone network operators to open up their networks to outside organisations, allowing third parties to develop new applications.

Its products are currently used by more than 20 of the world's Tier-1 mobile phone operators - the number one carrier in a particular country.

Welcoming BlackBerry Partners Fund as a new investor in Aepona, the company's chief executive Al Snyder said: "The Fund shares our vision for the future of the mobile industry and we especially look forward to leveraging the relationships that BlackBerry Partners Fund shares with the handset and application developer communities, to develop new propositions that combine the unique capabilities of the mobile device with the power of the mobile network."

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton added: "This is an extremely positive development for a high tech company which has grown its presence in Northern Ireland to become a key player in the global ICT sector.

"Securing this funding round with the BlackBerry Partners Fund will now further strengthen Aepona's reputation for mobile telecoms innovation and highlight Northern Ireland's world class knowledge base."