DCU spin-out Iconic Translation Machines acquired by RWS

9 Jun 2020

From left: Dr Páraic Sheridan, Diane O'Reilly of RWS and Dr John Tinsley. Image: Iconic Translation Machines

As part of the acquisition, Iconic Translation Machines will form a new vertical language technology business within RWS.

Today (9 June), Irish start-up Iconic Translation Machines announced that it has been acquired by RWS Holdings, a translation and localisation provider that offers intellectual property support solutions and life sciences language services.

Iconic Translation Machines is a spin-out of Dublin City University (DCU), founded in 2013 on the back of research conducted at the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centre for Next Generation Localisation in the DCU School of Computing, which is now the SFI Adapt Research Centre.

The start-up specialises in the development of neural machine translation (NMT) solutions adapted for specific industries and blue-chip clients. It has recently worked with the RWS Life Sciences division, delivering NMT solutions to pharmaceutical clients.

The acquisition

Iconic Translation Machines will now form a new vertical language technology business within RWS and will be led by its co-founders, Dr John Tinsley and Dr Páraic Sheridan. The Irish Times reported that the deal is worth up to $20m.

“We are very excited about the opportunities this acquisition will give us to serve our clients with an enhanced service delivery model as we expand our capabilities and leverage RWS’s scale, global footprint and comprehensive suite of services and platforms,” Tinsley commented.

He said that the start-up has been engaging with RWS for several years, and that the companies are complementary in terms of the clients and sectors they work with.

Sheridan added: “As co-founders of Iconic, we have worked extremely hard to make our company and team what it is today. We have been really impressed with the high calibre of people at RWS to date, and believe this is the perfect place to continue the development of our vision.”

Richard Stokes, director of commercialisation at DCU, said that Iconic Translation Machines represents a “great success story” that turned academic research and early-stage intellectual property into a viable business through “professionalism and perseverance”.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic