Yahoo assesses new technology from Northern Ireland

Three local technology companies have been helped by Invest Northern Ireland to pitch for business from Yahoo in the US. The three Northern Ireland companies – Sophia Search and Swarmteams, both from Belfast, and TextHelp of Antrim – were invited by Yahoo to show their innovative technology products to top executives following contacts made by Invest NI with the US internet portal.

The three companies are part of a 13-strong Invest NI mission to San Jose in California’s Silicon Valley, a global centre of information and communications technologies. The mission arrived in San Jose yesterday and will be engaged in a series of business meetings until 16th March.

Sophia Search is an internet search engine specialist from University of Ulster, Jordanstown; Swarmteams, a developer of software for mobile communications, and Texthelp a market leader in literacy software.

Included in the delegation are representatives from ECIT, the Queen’s University research centre on electronics, communications and information technologies, UU Tech, the University of Ulster company which helps in the commercialisation of university research and technology transfer, and Momentum, the representative body for the software industry.

In addition to a cluster of companies specialising in IT, the delegation includes Almac, Craigavon, and Randox Laboratories, Crumlin, two of Northern Ireland’s most successful innovators in life sciences.

Each company has a programme of meetings with existing and potential clients. Invest NI has also lined up a briefing meeting with the SDForum in San Jose,  the leading Silicon Valley not-for-profit organisation that has been providing an unbiased source of information and insight to the technology community in California for the past 23 years.

SDForum provides a venue for engineers, executives, researchers, technology leaders, and venture capitalists to exchange information on emerging technologies and best practices. It reaches 12,000 software professionals annually through more than 20 events each month.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, commenting on the mission, said:

“The mission will enable our companies to demonstrate their expertise, knowledge and products in one of the world’s foremost technology centres.

“It will also enable them to gain vital market intelligence about new developments underway throughout Silicon Valley, technologies which will help to shape ICT and other important industries in both the short and long term.

“The invitation to three of the companies to meet Yahoo executives is a particularly important development.

“Staff at our office in San Jose have played a key role in preparations for the mission and will be able to use the visit by such a strong delegation to raise the profile of Northern Ireland as an important European technology centre.

“The presence of ECIT, UU Tech and Momentum on the mission will help to reinforce the work of the San Jose team in marketing the business opportunity in Northern Ireland,” Mr Hingston added.

The San Jose mission is part of a series of such visits planned this year by Invest NI within its Passport to Export programme and is designed to help expand Northern Ireland exports to the US, now the province’s biggest export market outside the British Isles. Others visits are planned to Washington, New York and Atlanta.