Belfast Telegraph

Angel delight for e-commerce firm after £1.1m funding boost

An e-commerce software company which began life as an Ulster University spin-out has become the first Northern Ireland company to win support from the Angel CoFund.

The UK government-backed fund joined in a £1.1m round of investment into an advertising platform developed by Sophia, which is based in the Northern Ireland Science Park.

Sophia's Ambiance uses artificial intelligence to ensure users of websites pay attention to banner advertisements.

The company, which spun out of the Ulster University and the St Petersburg State University, has now won a total of £5.75m in funding, including seed funding from Northern Ireland angel network Halo in 2010 and a further cash injection from Irish fund Atlantic Bridge in 2012.

David Patterson, chief executive of Sophia, said the investment was "a great step forward for the business". He added: "Our aim is to help online brands and retailers to connect with consumers in a relevant way and to tackle the growing issue of digital ad blindness.

"Today's consumers are much more empowered than ever before and brands need to find more effective ways to connect and bond with them online."

Board members include former Saatchi & Saatchi chief executive Lee Daley and former Walmart chief operating officer John Rittenhouse. The Angel CoFund was set up in 2011 to back promising businesses and support angel investors. Investment director Tim Mills said: "At the Angel CoFund, we're always on the look-out for innovative and interesting business ideas, and Sophia certainly ticks the boxes for us.

"It's also important that we work to continue building links with angel communities across the country."

Belfast Telegraph