Three entrepreneurs from Great Britain are investing £2.5 million in a globally focused start-up company in Northern Ireland that will provide highly innovative technology products and services to the global digital broadcast market using broadband networks, Leslie Morrison, Invest Northern Ireland Chief Executive, said today.

Mr Morrison announced the Invest NI backed start-up company, Latens Systems, with its three founders, Jeremy Thorp, Jason Rogers and Andy Mathieson, who have all held senior positions in digital broadcasting, at a press conference in Belfast. The new company has located its headquarters and R&D operations in the Queen’s University area.

Latens Systems will develop and exploit software for use in accessing new digital television services such as ‘pay-for-view’ (PPV) video on demand (VoD) that are becoming increasingly important with the application of broadband technology.

Mr Thorp was Group Managing Director of NTL, responsible for its digital cable television roll-out and, most recently, was Chief Technology Officer of Tandberg Television. Mr Rogers was Director of Digital and Interactive Television at NTL and Head of Systems Architecture at Tandberg. Mr Mathieson was Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing with NDS, the world’s biggest supplier of systems for accessing broadcasting services.

Latens will offer a radically new Conditional Access (CA) system that prevents unauthorised access, copying and broadcast of television material. This new generation technology will offer an alternative to existing smart card controlled systems.

Mr Morrison said: “This important technology investment, by three highly experienced executives with an impressive track record in digital broadcasting, will harness broadband technology to create a worldclass digital R&D centre in Northern Ireland.

“Invest NI’s engagement with this new technology company is in line with our Accelerating Entrepreneurship strategy which seeks to transform Northern Ireland into a dynamic entrepreneurial hub by attracting and promoting globally-focused start-ups, particularly in knowledge-led industries, with a strong R&D commitment,” he added.

Commenting on the investment, Mr Thorp, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Latens Systems, said: “Our aim is to develop a suite of highly innovative software products for the broadband industry that offer operators greater functionality, increased flexibility and are cost competitive. Our first product is for the growing VoD market and will be launched soon.

“The CA market is valued at around $1.3 billion annually and estimated to be growing at about 20 per cent a year. It therefore presents a significant business opportunity for new technology.”

Belfast, he said, had been chosen as the location for the start-up because of the ready availability of skilled software developers and the quality of the telecommunications network.

Mr Rogers is Chief Technical Officer and Mr Mathieson the Sales and Marketing Director of the new business.

Latens has already commenced the recruitment process for software engineering staff for the new Upper Crescent, Belfast operation.