MetaCompliance plans to double Derry~Londonderry workforce

Pictured (L – R) are Robert O’Brien, MetaCompliance, and Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI.

Pictured (L – R) are Robert O’Brien, MetaCompliance, and Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI.


North West based technology firm MetaCompliance is recruiting 69 new jobs over the next three years to help develop its worldwide sales and market presence. The company develops software and creative content for the cyber security sector and is aiming to triple its turnover by capitalising on the demand for cloud based cyber security products. To deliver on its objective, MetaCompliance is recruiting a combination of sales and IT roles to implement a new sales model targeting prospective customers across Europe and the US.

Welcoming the expansion, Invest Northern Ireland’s Executive Director of Business & Sector Development, Jeremy Fitch said: “MetaCompliance is one of our most innovative technology companies with a long standing commitment to the North West. The company has used a range of Invest NI support to enhance its competitiveness in the global marketplace which has included support for research and development, skills development and marketing. This new investment will support its global ambitions and create valuable employment opportunities in the Derry and Strabane District Council area. The 69 jobs being recruited at the company, 29 of which are already in place, will generate £1.7million annually in additional salaries into the local economy and will see the company triple its workforce over the next three years.”

The market opportunities are driven by the growing global threat from phishing and ransomware, as well as the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018 and the need for policy management solutions throughout all industries.

The company provides clients with cost-effective cloud first software which makes compliance easier for organisations governed by stringent legislative and regulatory requirements such as Data Protection, Privacy and Bribery laws. Invest NI has offered MetaCompliance £652,000 towards the creation of the new jobs.

Speaking about the expansion, Robert O’Brien, Chief Executive of MetaCompliance, said: “This is an exciting stage in our business’ growth, as we implement ambitious plans to double our workforce and triple our turnover. Invest NI’s ongoing support is central to the continued growth of our business. Invest NI’s ongoing support is central to the continued growth of our business and we are delighted with the progress of recruitment to date and also the calibre of talent available in the North West.

“Enhancing our market development team in Derry supports the targeted approach we plan to take to maximise the sales potential of our cyber security and compliance products. We are focused on expanding our customer base and will be working hard to engage prospective clients from both public sector and commercial industry throughout Europe and the US.”

The company’s product suite includes IT Governance, Risk and Compliance (IT GRC) solutions that enable organisations to automate, enforce and manage the key tasks associated with user awareness and employee engagement for information assurance. MetaCompliance’s recruitment drive will increase its workforce total to 102 by 2019. The company will be holding a recruitment day in City Hotel, Derry, on Friday 01 December between 09:00 and 17:00.

Ulster University one of eight UK universities in major data science partnership with the BBC.

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Ulster University has been announced as one of just eight UK universities to form a major five-year research partnership with BBC Research and Development to unlock the potential of data analysis in the media.

The Data Science Research Partnership will be at the forefront of machine learning in the media industry, helping create a more personal BBC that can inform, educate and entertain in new ways.

The partnership brings together industry experts from across the BBC and world-leading UK data scientists from Ulster University, with the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and Surrey, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London, and University College London.

Ulster University will contribute its wealth of research and sectoral expertise from media and journalism, film and television to data analytics. The university’s advanced research into data driven journalism and viewer engagement will be of particular relevance to the partnership.

The partnership will also collaborate with media and technology organisations from across the UK, Europe and internationally on a range of projects. These will focus on the following four areas, all combining anonymised BBC data with cutting-edge algorithms and analytics. The aim is to create a body of research, insights and prototypes that can start making a real impact on the BBC and its audiences.

The research will assist with:

Understanding audiences: Use data to better understand what audiences want from the BBC, why they want it, and what impact these programmes or services have on them.

Understanding content: Explore what machine learning can teach the BBC about its programmes and services,and what it stands to gain from it.

Curation and personalisation: Create a more personal BBC, designing tools and algorithms to help programme makers with editorial and commissioning decisions.

Content of the future: Design future audience experiences, based on BBC R&D’s object-based broadcasting concept, and new forms of data journalism.

Alongside this will be a range of educational opportunities to help the BBC and its staff improve the skills they’ll need in a data-driven future. This will include the development of tailored courses ranging from entry-level to advanced, MSc Data Science apprenticeships, and secondments between the BBC and all the research partners, including Ulster University.

Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice Chancellor Ulster University said:

Ulster University continues to work at the forefront of data analytics, pioneering advances across multiple domains including health and medical research, financial technology, international finance, advanced manufacturing and energy and, media.

“With the launch of our Cognitive Analytics Research Laboratory earlier this year, the first data analytics institute in Northern Ireland, Ulster University cemented its reputation as a global leader, a position which is now even further enhanced by this partnership with the BBC.

“Combined with our work in the broader creative industries and the development of industry-relevant courses, this partnership will see Ulster University play an integral role in shaping the future of broadcasting. It will ensure that one of the world’s biggest public service broadcast organisations can fully harness the power of data and computer systems with cognitive thought processes to deliver unrivalled audience experience.”

Matthew Postgate, the BBC’s Chief Technology and Product Officer, said:

“The BBC has always been at its best when it combines creativity with technology. As we reinvent the BBC, we can see the opportunities that data and machine learning are opening up for us, our creative talent and our audiences. This partnership will help us break new ground and ensure we continue giving audiences the very best in public service broadcasting well into the future.”

Samantha Chadwick, Head of Partnerships, BBC R&D, said:

“Machine learning is going to play an increasingly important role in the world. Together with our partners and funding bodies, we want to apply these advances in data science to the media industry, and to make a real difference to people’s lives. The partnership will also address the scarcity of data scientists in the UK, training a new generation of data scientists on real media problems, to create new audience experiences that don’t even exist yet.”

At the announcement Ulster University presented key aspects of ongoing research including work carried out through a recently formed Ulster University spinout, NeuroCONCISE. The firm develops technology that enables people to interact with technology and communicate by analysing brain waves. Although the research initially was developed for healthcare, Ulster University is now applying it to journalism and creative media as one method of predicting and understanding audience behaviour.

Padraig Canavan (Acorn Angels) and Oli Cavanagh (Flender)

Padraig Canavan (Acorn Angels) and Oli Cavanagh (Flender)

Irish-based company Flender has won a funding package including the first investment by the Derry/Londonderry Acorn Angel Group, which included Padraig Canavan, Liam Bradley and Paul McElvaney. Flender is an online platform that creates a marketplace for businesses and individuals in the Republic of Ireland to borrow and lend money safely and at better rates than those offered by the banks.

In a significant development following this investment, Flender was awarded full FCA authorisation to launch in the UK, a market nearly 300 times larger than the Irish Peer-to-Peer market. The Flender UK offering will launch in June.

Flender is the brainchild of Strabane born Oli Cavanagh and business partners Kris Koik and Jeremy Davies Betancourt. They have secured funding of nearly £1M to develop the opportunity. This marks the first investment by the Acorn Angels group, whose focus is on investing in the North West and who hope to attract more businesses to pitch for investment.

As well as the Acorn Angels, which was facilitated by Halo at Catalyst Inc, the funding package includes a number of private investors, including Mark Roden, cofounder of Esat Digifone (sold for over £1Billion) and founder of Ding, the world’s largest mobile top-up network. The company is also ‘backed by the crowd’, having reached their £500,000 funding target on crowdfunding platform, Seedrs, in January this year.

Flender enables businesses and consumers to borrow money through their existing networks of friends, family and customers. This market alone is estimated to be worth £2.9bn per annum and it is the aim of company to be first to formalise and automate it.

The platform has just gone live in Ireland and is launching in the UK in June. The company already has many businesses on their flender.ie site seeking a total investment of over €900,000 plus a pipeline of others ready to go onto the platform.

Flender’s Co-Founder, Oli Cavanagh, explains:

Flender lets people take advantage of a disruptive marketplace that is seeing triple-digit growth, making access to funds easier and generating better returns for lenders. It is a web and mobile offering that lets borrowers decide the amount they wish to repay over a period that suits them. They are quickly matched with lenders who also get the return they want. Borrowing and lending happens via a smartphone, in a paperless transaction, and with automated payments setup and digital contracts that provide a secure legal framework. It also lets businesses reward their customers by inviting them to participate, and directs the repayments to them rather than to a bank. The knock-on effect of this is increased loyalty from customers.”

Liam Bradley, Acorn Angels, commented:

“The ability of the Flender platform to engage lenders from within a business’ own social circles is what the group identified as a real gap in the market. Within an addressable market of over £5.4bn between the UK and Ireland, we believe that the company has an opportunity for massive growth. With our first investment under our belts, we would welcome more companies from the North West applying to the group for investment. ”

SIGFOX Tech

SIGFOX Tech

Ulster University has become the first university in the UK and the only commercial organisation in Northern Ireland to install the revolutionary Internet of Things (IoT) technology, SIGFOX.

IoT technology supports the networking and sharing of information between physical devices such as smartphones, tablet and other suitably enabled electronic devices via the internet. The innovative SIGFOX wireless technology remotely connects devices with the cloud, transferring valuable data sets for end-user evaluation by phone, tablet or computer.

SIGFOX is the next generation of wireless technology and can work alongside other networks such as Wifi, Bluetooth and 4G. It excels for its wide range connectivity to the internet, as well as its low power consumption and cost. The new SIGFOX base station has been fitted at Ulster University’s Jordanstown campus.

Dr Philip Catherwood from Ulster University’s Engineering Research Institute said: “To give you an idea of the power of SIGFOX, it takes only one base station to service an area the size of Belfast. As the first university in the UK to install a SIGFOX base station, Ulster University is at the forefront of the Internet of Things revolution. This is supported by our world-leading research in connected health and data analytics, as well as our innovative teaching practices.

“This emerging technology offers enormous opportunities for innovation and discovery at Ulster University. We will use SIGFOX enabled technology in our future research into wearable devices; remote data analysis and connected health platforms to further improve patient outcomes and transform the global healthcare sector. The SIGFOX base station at Ulster University will receive a wide range of information from remote healthcare data such as blood analysis, diabetes and heart rate results, to livestock tracking and chemical detection.

“Ulster University’s engineering students will benefit from the new base station as we plan to deliver dedicated modules on this emerging network. This will guarantee students first-hand experience of this next generation technology, helping them to thrive in careers in the fast-paced technology and engineering sectors.

“We are delighted to have the first base station installed at Ulster University, which will benefit not only researchers and students, but also Northern Ireland’s wider business community who can tap into its potential.”

Led by Ulster University’s School of Engineering, the installation of the new SIGFOX base station was supported by cross-border partners including VT Networks and 2nr. The base station equipment was provided by global operator WND Networks with installation expertise from Barrett Contracts.