Posted on Wednesday 4 April 2012 by Ulster Business

Sophia Search

Norman Apsley, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Science Park; David Patterson, CEO of Sophia; acting US consul general, Kevin Roland; and Invest NI’s Ian Murphy.

Sophia Search, based at the Northern Ireland Science Park, has marked the launch of its new ‘Digital Librarian’ product with the announcement of four new contracts in the US publishing and government sectors.

The ‘Digital Librarian’ understands the meaning of documents including pdfs, word files, news feeds and social media, so that it knows what is discussed in them. It uses this inherent understanding to enrich each document with additional knowledge to make it more findable when people search. Sophia automatically enriches documents with information about its topic and sub topic and also adds new knowledge about its meaning. For example a document that refers to heart attack will be enriched with additional terms such as heart disease, or myocardial infarct to increase the number of ways users can find it.

The company now has a number of customers in the publishing space in the US using the ‘Digital Librarian’ to better understand the interests of their customers on-line. One of them, Random House, is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. The software is also being used by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy (USA), who are interested in the platforms unique discovery capabilities and the extra dimension this can bring to search.

David Patterson, CEO of Sophia, said: “We have set about addressing the limitations of conventional search engines by creating software that automatically understands meaning and context without relying on training, human guidance or ontologies. We enable people to work smarter and become more productive by making information easier to discover within their organisations. Sophia has invested heavily in an export market strategy and have opened an office in Silicon Valley, California. We are now starting to reap the benefits of the lucrative US market with these significant contracts and will continue to adopt a global approach focusing initially on the scientific & publishing sectors.”

Sophia Search recently held its first annual global summit bringing together employees from their international offices in North America and Russia to the company’s headquarters at the Northern Ireland Science Park. At the event members of the Sophia team met with Invest NI and the US consul general to strategise and discuss maximising the commercial opportunities the US market presents.

Speaking at the launch acting US consul general, Kevin Roland, said: “I applaud the Northern Ireland Science Park for supporting the research and development of this innovative digital platform. The creation of ‘Sophia’ underpins Northern Ireland’s capacity to provide world-leading, cutting-edge technologies and services to the global market."

Norman Apsley, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Science Park, added: “Starting out as winners of the NISP CONNECT £25K Awards to receiving the largest ever investment made in Northern Ireland by Halo business angels, Sophia Search is going from strength to strength and is a great example of how companies at the Park are using it as a launch pad to global markets.”

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