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Angel investors enable Search to pursue the American dream

Belfast-based technology company SOPHIA Search has secured £800,000 in funding from angel investors that will allow it to double its workforce and expand into the US.

The company - which uses advanced search engine technology to help businesses search internally for quality information - was developed as a result of a collaboration between the University of Ulster and the State University of St. Petersburg in Russia.

The investment - the largest ever investment in Northern Ireland by high net worth individuals known as angel investors - will allow the company to create 10 new posts in technology, sales, and marketing, and assist the firm's expansion into the US.

SOPHIA Search's clients are mostly based in the United States, and include IBM and Accelrys.

Chief executive Dr David Patterson, said: "This investment gives the business the resources and breathing room to push forward with our aggressive growth plans.

"It will enable us to accelerate our expansion into the US market, which holds so much opportunity for us."

In 2007, the company raised initial seed capital jointly from the University of Ulster's technology transfer division IUL Ltd and Invest NI.

In early 2009, it secured initial angel funding from business angels in the Halo network. The latest round included significant contribution from a newly formed Belfast-based Angel syndicate - 'Volcano' .

The company has also appointed successful technology entrepreneur Dr Chris Horn as its chairman.

Dr Horn said: "I look forward to mentoring an academic spin-out company with world leading technology in one of the most in-demand software sectors."