Campus firm partners with online giants


30 Sep 2005

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A campus company based at the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has forged partnerships with major online retail giants Amazon.com and eBay to enable them to sell and distribute digital content through their sites, siliconrepublic.com has learned.

Aceno, which is based at the Telecoms Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at WIT, specialises in mobile content retailing on behalf of online retailers. The firm is among a vanguard of WIT-based applied research projects that are leading the field in commercialising third-level research and turning it into proven business concepts.

The company’s technology enables firms that traditionally sell DVDs, books and other forms of physical merchandise to sell any type of electronic media – ringtones, music, games, graphics, videos – by forging a seamless link between the content provider (such as 20th Century Fox or Warner) and a retailer such as eBay.

For example, Aceno enables eBay to sell music on behalf of major labels as well as powering the sale of ringtones and mobile phone games from Amazon’s z-Shop store. “The Amazon store has 15,000 items of content and the purchaser buys the content through Amazon payments. Aceno then delivers the content over the air to the mobile phone,” explained Paul Savage of WIT, who was speaking at an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Showcase at the RDS yesterday.

Aceno was founded in 2003 as a spin off from the TSSG, which is regarded as one of Europe’s leading telecoms service research and development centres. The company is headed up by CEO Conor Ryan, chief technical officer Eamon de Leastar, chief financial officer Elaine Fennelly and director Barry Downes.

Aceno’s technology embraces web-to-mobile content distribution and digital rights management technology.

Savage explained that the company so far has invested €1.2m in research and development (R&D) to date and has secured a further €250k to continue its R&D strategy. “This platform uniquely allows e-tailers to sell mobile content and ultimately multimedia content across multiple channels,” he explained.

“While e-tailers are skilled at selling books, clothes, music and DVDs online, they don’t have the ability to sell mobile content, that’s where Aceno comes in,” Savage explained, adding that the young firm has high revenue potential. The company passes on 50pc of the revenue from the sale of a ringtone or song to the content provider.

Going forward, the priority for Aceno will be raising more funding to increase the company’s profile and drive sales.

By John Kennedy