20 Irish start-ups mining data science for business opportunities

28 Sep 2015

Young Irish-based, Irish-founded and Irish-led companies are catching the data science wave that is sweeping over the tech industry.

With data analytics becoming an increasingly important part of every business, these start-ups span many different areas and industries — from working with elite athletes, to analysing media coverage, to helping cinema chains increase profitability.

Siliconrepublic.com is acknowledging the growth in this area with Data Science Week, where we will take a detailed look at the movers and shakers, opportunities and pitfalls, in the area of data science.

Read on to discover 20 Irish start-ups hoping to make an impact in this growing area.

1. Datahug

DataHug is a customer relationship management (CRM) tech start-up that mines communications data within a company, automating the process to improve customer relationships.

Founded by Corkman Connor Murphy in 2010, the company was named a ‘future giant’ by the European Business Awards back in 2013, the same year it received fresh investment from Salesforce.com and spearheaded its expansion into the US.

The company now has 50 staff across both Dublin and San Francisco, with more than 1bn client emails processed through its software in the last five years.

2. Showtime Analytics

Showtime Analytics, our Start-up of the Week this week, is a start-up aiming to improve the analytical tools used in cinemas, an area the company feels lags behind competitors such as TV and online media.

Founded by Richie Power, Joe Spurling and Paul Lynch, the company produces a data analytics platform that relies on collection, collation and visualisation of real-time customer information.

Arguing that innovation in cinema has largely been behind the shift towards digital projection over the past decade, Showtime Analytics wants to disrupt a global market worth an estimated US$25bn.

3. HeyStaks

HeyStaks analyses smartphone behaviour and identifies user intent, allowing mobile operators to build accurate interest profiles of their subscribers while respecting individuals’ right to anonymity.

It recently expanded on the back of a €1.5m investment from Digicel, with the company now seven years old.

Based at NovaUCD, HeyStaks is a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company from the Science Foundation Ireland funded Clarity Centre for Sensor Web Technologies, now part of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics.

4. Orreco

Orreco was founded by Dr Brian Moore and Dr Andrew Hodgson in 2009 with the aim of using advanced haematology and rapid analytics to improve athletes’ performances by providing sports-specific feedback and guidance.

The Sligo-based start-up has enjoyed huge success already, securing deals with Premier League football clubs in the UK and Major League Baseball teams in the US. Just last week, Orreco announced a new partnership with IBM Watson, utilising the start-up’s tools to create Coach Watson, a new app for the supercomputer that will enable sports teams to make better-informed training and treatment decisions for star athletes.

In a recent funding round, the company raised US$1m, which will be invested in software infrastructure and increased targeting of the US market.

5. Vidiro

Co-founded by Simon Factor and Kevin Magee, this video analytics company is tapping into the vast analytical treasure troves that are YouTube and other video platforms where hundreds of millions of hours of video are watched each day.

Vidiro’s claim to fame is a pair of major deals with Syco Entertainment and Fremantle Media – the companies behind The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent – which utilise Vidiro’s Talent Radar to mine the millions of YouTube videos uploaded every day to find rising stars.

Based in NexusUCD at University College Dublin with an additional office in London, Vidiro also provides advertising solutions, promising to identify top-performing YouTube videos before they go viral to ensure that ads are placed in the most impactful places.

6. Mohago

Founded by University College Cork graduates Declan Gordon and Dylan Buckley, Mohago aims to be the bridge between deep analytical content and R&D engineers who might not be able to write the code to create data captures and data visualisations.

Using both Gordon and Buckley’s engineering background, the company’s Looking Glass product assists those developing the next technologies, such as the internet of things.

Mohago’s ultimate goal is to change how people in R&D and manufacturing think about data and make it more valuable.

7. Boxever

In the airline industry, big data analytics is more than just a benefit, it’s essential – which is where the Dublin-based company Boxever steps in.

Founded in 2011 by Dermot O’Flanagan, Dermot O’Connor and Alan Giles, Boxever uses big data analytics and predictive analytics to gather and analyse customer data in real time, creating a single customer view that powers one-to-one marketing and personalisation.

Last year marked one of its largest funding rounds, with VC firm Polaris Partners investing US$6m in its data analytics platform.

8. Qstream

Qstream, developed at Harvard in 2008 by Irishman Duncan Lennox, is a sales performance platform that utilises science and data analytics to boost sales teams’ confidence and improve the bottom line.

Using Qstream and a mobile device, busy sales reps respond to scenario-based questions in just three minutes. A competitive angle keeps users interested, while an analytics engine captures data points and churns out actionable insights.

Headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts, Lennox returned to the old country in 2013, establishing an EMEA office in Dublin. The business intelligence firm recently raised US$4m in Series A funding, bringing its Series A total to US$6.85m.

9. Kinesense

Kinesense is a Dublin-based company that specialises in video content analysis, primarily lending its skills to law enforcement for the analysis of CCTV footage during criminal investigations.

Kinesense saves investigators countless hours of sifting through video footage searching for events with software that can perform this task itself.

Kinesense’s technology has been used by police across Europe and in the US, and last year it got involved in a project with London Zoo. The zoo was broadcasting live from its meerkat enclosure on YouTube and Kinesense technology was used to detect when there was any movement in the video footage.

10. Asystec

Limerick-headquartered Asystec also has facilities in Cork, Dublin and Belfast delivering data management solutions to national and international clients.

Founded in 2011 by Les Byrne and Brendan McPhillips, Asystec designs IT solutions to help companies manage, secure and leverage key data assets. Clients include global brands and multinationals in Ireland and the UK, and the firm is also involved in data analytics projects in China and the US.

Last year, the young company laid out plans to double its Irish workforce, its expansion fuelled by growth in markets such as security, data analytics and IT transformation. This included the establishment of a R&D operation to explore innovations in the use and exploitation of big data, data analysis and strategic business development.

11. Aylien

Previous Siliconrepublic.com start-up of the week Aylien is a Dublin-based software company applying artificial intelligence to news and media.

The brainchild of CEO Parsa Ghaffari, Aylien’s Text Analysis API is a package of eight natural language processing, machine-learning and information-retrieval tools, which can easily extract valuable meaning from documents.

Founded in 2011, Aylien has received venture funding from SOSventures and private investors. This year, the company struck a deal with image analysis provider Imagga, adding image recognition to its apps and platforms. Ghaffari said this would be the first of many more hybrid solutions to come from this business-to-business technology.

12. NewsWhip

Another Irish start-up analysing data for the benefit of the media is NewsWhip, whose cutting-edge story detection technologies are used by premium news organisations such as the BBC and The Washington Post.

Founded in 2010 by CEO Paul Quigley and CTO Andrew Mullaney, NewsWhip recently scored a US$1.6m investment from a number of high-profile investors, including the Associated Press, 500 Startups, Tribal.vc and Matter.

NewsWhip’s aims are to continually increase the insights that can be drawn from its data pipeline, and to get even better at detecting early signals of trends from online social interactions. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to expand its R&D efforts in Dublin in order to add more layers of intelligence and data to its five key products.

13. Logentries

While now headquartered in Boston, Logentries’ origins are in the Irish capital where the company was founded in 2010 by Dr Viliam Holub and Dr Trevor Parsons.

Logentries spawned from the pair’s decade-long joint research project with IBM at UCD, where they worked in the university’s Performance Engineering Lab looking at root cause analysis of common performance and IT issues.

The thing about log entries is that less than 1pc of them contain significant game-changing information, and they are hidden among the other 99pc. Logentries’ cloud-based software-as-a-service collects and analyses data from log files in real time, leaving its customers to focus on the data that matters most.

14. Profitero

Dublin-based Profitero offers business intelligence for the e-commerce sector through its software-as-a-service platform, which aims to provide clients such as Staples and Waitrose with valuable insights.

Profitero’s platform monitors more than 220m prices in real time and has been described by investor Noel Ruane as a best-in-class technology thanks to its product-matching capabilities and scalability.

The company’s grand ambition is to become the Nielsen for global retailers and brands, and with reported 300pc year-on-year growth last summer, expansion is well underway.

15. Nuritas

Onstage at Silicon Republic’s 2014 Innovation Ireland Forum, Nuritas founder Nora Khaldi declared that her company was “creating the future of food”. To do this, Nuritas specialises in a new field of science, nutritional bioinformatics, which blends computational biology with nutritional science at the molecular level.

What this means is Nuritas uses advanced computer algorithms to break down a food source to molecules that can then be used for scientific research. By using artificial intelligence and machine learning, this Dublin start-up is identifying functional ingredients that can have therapeutic qualities, and can, therefore, be added to food, cosmetics and dietary supplements.

This kind of discovery typically takes industry years and millions in investment to achieve, and Nuritas has done it for a fraction of the cost and in a matter of months.

16. Social Honey

Fledgling start-up Social Honey sources ratings and reviews for web content and provides consumer insights based on a combination of user-generated feedback and big data analysis.

Its team of four founders previously helped top airlines keep users in the purchase flow, and now they’ve turned their attention to publishers, analysing audience and content performance. Social Honey’s analysis offers publishers an insight into what content is working with a particular demographic and reader interest segment, and this data is visible in real-time through its API and dashboard.

Having started up just last year, Social Honey has already worked with notable clients such as American Express and The Next Web.

17. Altocloud

Altocloud is an Irish-US start-up with a HQ in Silicon Valley and a R&D lab in Galway. Its trio of founders are two-thirds Irish, with Barry O’Sullivan and Joe Smyth taking the roles of CEO and CTO respectively.

Founded in 2013, Altocloud provides companies with communications software that uses predictive analytics to improve voice, video and chat interactions with customers. This software-as-a-service platform uses data analytics and machine learning to boost clients’ customer support, service and sales capabilities.

In its essence, this technology enables companies to reach out to prospective customers at a time when they’re most interested, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful sale and a positive customer experience.

18. Eagle Alpha

Eagle Alpha was founded by Irishman Emmet Kilduff, son of entrepreneur Tony Kilduff, chair of Elgin Capital.

The elder Kilduff is a shareholder in his son’s firm, which analyses statistical and financial information from social media and the web for Wall Street banks. Kilduff, a former investment banker, heads up the company as CEO, overseeing staff in New York and London as well as Dublin.

Online data from social networks such as Twitter, Weibo and LinkedIn is known to be littered with inaccuracies, but Eagle Alpha uses a combination of technologies and skilled engineers and analysts to sift through this and provide clients with reliable, curated data.

The company has targeted investment bankers and hedge funds in the City of London, and 80pc of sales are expected to come from the US in a few years’ time.

19. Olytico

Olytico is listening closely and carefully to the chatter on social networks and in online news media in order to discover what’s being said about the things that matter to its clients, such as their company, product, industry or their competitors.

Analysing public conversations from around the world on Facebook, Twitter, message boards, forums, YouTube, TripAdvisor and Amazon, Olytico claims to have a database of more than 70bn comments, posts, tweets and articles archived and indexed, with more than 60m new results added every day. And the best way to tap into all that data is to talk to the gatekeepers.

Olytico was founded in 2009 by Stephen O’Leary and includes RTÉ, TV3, BBC and The Washington Post among its list of clients.

20. Derilinx

Founded just last year by Deirdre Lee and Fergal Marrinan, Derilinx deals in linked and open data.

A spin-out from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway, the company is now based in Dublin where it hopes to fulfil its vision to support the provision of effective public services through the coordinated use of linked and open data.

Derilinx has collaborated with many government departments and public bodies on linked data, data sharing and open data projects, including working with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the implementation of Ireland’s National Open Data Initiative.

Siliconrepublic.com’s Data Science Week brings you special coverage of this rapidly growing field from 28 September to 2 October 2015. Don’t miss an entry worth your analysis by subscribing to our news alerts or following @siliconrepublic and the hashtag #DataScienceWeek on Twitter.

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