HeyStaks to unveil groundbreaking web search tool


HEYSTAKS, A UCD-based start-up which has already won plaudits and awards for a software application that has yet to be fully released, will unveil Version 1 of its groundbreaking search tool over the next few weeks.

The company has developed a browser plug-in that is meant to complement popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

HeyStaks works by adding key organisational and collaborative tools on top of these search engines that enable users to organise and build on search results or “staks” on a particular subject.

These staks can be kept private or shared with others and they can be added to by fellow members ensuring that a multitude of data on any given topic can be kept for future reference and expanded.

This means that someone searching for information on holidaying for example can search already compiled staks for the best tips rather than having to wade through countless websites.

It also ensures that the great hotel you found a year ago while wading through Google results but whose name you can no longer remember, is safely stored and ready to be found again.

Another key advantage to HeyStaks is that because an individual’s contributions to staks remain anonymous to others, user privacy is maximised.

The technology was developed by the company’s co-founders Dr Peter Briggs and Dr Maurice Coyle during their PhD research at UCD’s School of Computer Science and Informatics.

Since then, the two have honed the tool when not working in their full-time capacity as researchers at Clarity, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded centre involving academic research teams based in Dublin City University, University College Dublin and the Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork.

In February, HeyStaks was selected as one of four new initiatives to share the Eircom €100,000 Web Innovation Fund intended to promote, mentor and sponsor innovative web applications in the Irish internet industry.

Since then it was selected as the overall winner of Sussed! UCD’s €10,000 entrepreneurship competition run by the universitys technology transfer centre, NovaUCD and just two weeks ago beat off stiff competition to win the inaugural Europe-wide, Unica Entrepreneurship Competition for Students and Young Researchers and a prize of €20,000.

During the last week, the company has also been shortlisted for the 2009 David Manley Emerging Entrepreneur Award.

Dr Coyne told The Irish Timesthat being based at Clarity had helped the company realise the commercial potential of its application and suggested that such centres have a key role to play in helping start-up firms find success.

“So many people do masters and PhDs on great projects but because there’s not a framework in place to bring them to the commercialisation stage a lot of research gets left on the shelf,” he said.

“HeyStaks is lucky because we are benefiting from Ireland’s willingness to fund centres such as Clarity which creates an environment where research can be carried out but also one in which commercialisation is paramount. This means that the journey to the marketplace for projects which have high potential is much more natural,” he added.

HeyStaks is available to download in beta version from www.HeyStaks.com