NI companies Plotbox and Datactics secure investment
Belfast- based visual speech recognition company Liopa scores government project
Plotbox founders Seán and Leona McAllister
PlotBox, the Northern Ireland company that has developed “death care management” software for cemeteries and crematoriums plans to rapidly expand its workforce and roll out more “enhanced products” after securing a £2 million investment package.
Seán McAllister, who founded the company with his wife Leona, said the finance injection from Par Equity, the Edinburgh-based venture capital firm and London private equity group, Ironbridge Capital Partners, will help to “galvanise” its ambitions to focus on larger customers and expand in its three core markets.
“We’ve decided to go for faster growth and higher growth in the UK/Ireland market, North America and Australia.
“This investment is a major vote of confidence for us because it gives us the ability to focus on these three different regions and accelerate all the things we want to do there, both by expanding our sales and by adding more enhanced products,” Mr McAllister said.
PlotBox, which is headquartered in Ballymena and has offices in Boston, Austin and San Francisco, currently employs 44 people but is hoping to nearly double its workforce by next year.
The founders set up their business in 2014 after they were asked to do a mapping project for a local cemetery.
Mr McAllister and his wife believe that PlotBox can help families deal with the trauma of dealing with death and also help organisations that are directly involved in the bereavement industries.
“We know from feedback from the organisations that we work with that they have three major concerns firstly risk, which includes ensuring that the correct plot is always used, then how to better manage their asset and space and then efficiency.
“Overall they want to deliver a good service and this new investment gives us the opportunity to expand faster and to continue to improve a vital service for grieving families, and simplify the work of those who carry it out,” Mr McAllister said.
PlotBox is not the only Northern Ireland technology company who is looking to its future expansion this week.
Par Equity has also joined forces with Kernel to invest £1.2 million in the Belfast software company, Datactics.
It has developed a range of software products for large scale institutions to help them manage vast volumes of data while at the same time meeting regulatory compliance requirements.
Although the majority of Datactics current client base are banks and financial service firms, it is hoping to expand its operations into other fields and is currently in talks with the UK Government.
Stuart Harvey, chief executive of the Belfast firm said: “Over the past three years we’ve tripled our revenues and had to open offices in both New York and Milan to meet demand.
“Yet we’ve stayed headquartered in Belfast because of its excellent business environment and the available talent, and part of this funding will go towards hiring additional key personnel for the head office.
“The rest will go towards creating additional proof of concepts and extending our software platform and sales”.
Visual speech recognition
Meanwhile Liopa, the Belfast-based visual speech recognition company, has confirmed it has been chosen by the UK Government to participate in a new project which could help improve the UK’s defence and security.
The project will investigate how behavioural analytics could be used to “guide better judgements” when it comes to potential threats.
Liopa will use its Visual Speech Recognition (VSR) technology - which deciphers speech from analysis of lip movements - to identify key specified words in uploaded video content
Liam McQuillan, founder and chief executive of the Belfast company said getting selected for the project is a “considerable stamp of approval”.
“We were able to show how our idea will work, and how it fits in with a larger ecosystem and other data analytics feeds.
We’ve the relevant artificial intelligence expertise and capability inhouse, and we’ll also be looking to grow our team of experts in Belfast,” he added.