Two funds managed by Manchester-based Enterprise Ventures (EV) have made a joint investment in Isis Forensics, a university spin-out that uses language analysis tools to detect adults masquerading as children and grooming victims in internet chatrooms.
The deal marks The North West Fund for Venture Capital and Lancashire County Council’s Rosebud Fund’s first joint investment, EV said in a statement.
Based at the Lancaster University’s Infolab21, Isis Forensics was founded in 2007 by the chief executive Dr James Walkerdine, a university researcher who has worked on a number of law enforcement projects involving online forensics and cyber security.
The company’s technology profiles people’s language use in online conversations, and can identify particular age groups and individuals.
Already in use by some law enforcement agencies, it also has a wider range of potential applications such as detecting fraud and undertaking advanced market analysis.
The company has already had approaches from partners and customers in these sectors and the funding will allow Isis Forensics to further capitalise on this both in the UK and internationally.
As part of the funding round, Isis has also appointed former SurfControl director Patrick Jolly as a non-executive chairman.
“Language analysis software can play an important role in protecting children online,” said Isis Forensics CEO James Walkerdine.
“The technology we have developed has the potential for use by website operators, internet service providers, law enforcement agencies and children themselves.
“This investment will allow us to further develop products for each of these audiences and also enable access to the technology for other markets.”
Douglas Stellman, investment director at EV, added, “We are delighted to have been able to work with Lancaster University to secure significant funding for this exciting new technology company, and to have helped bring about the first joint investment by the Rosebud Fund and The North West Fund for Venture Capital.
“It shows how regional funds can work together to support emerging businesses with the potential to address global export markets.”
The North West Fund’ for Venture Capital is part of The North West Fund, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.
The deal follows the fund’s recent £525,000 investment in LabelSneak, an online men’s fashion business backed by former rugby union player Austin Healey.
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