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AI company invests £11m in new centre in Belfast River House

Published on 31 October 2023

Software development firm plans to increase workforce to 50 in River House location.

An artificial intelligence company with an American football team among its clients has invested £11m in a centre here.

Ocula Technologies’ new software development centre is located in River House in Belfast city centre.

And it said the investment was enabling it to develop its advanced insight platform in order to create “the online winners of tomorrow, through actionable AI today”.

Ocula has 10 highly-qualified employees here but plans to increase its workforce to 50 in the next three years.

It works with clients including Super Bowl winner Kansas City Chiefs, AO and Boots to improve their e-commerce experience and compete on pricing.

Thomas McKenna, chief executive and co-founder, said: “Our vision is to level the AI playing field for our clients so they can compete with the most advanced players in their fields.

"The effortless, impactful AI software that Ocula provides is now more important than ever due to the explosion of generative AI and all the benefits it can deliver.

“With its rich talent pool, we certainly made the right decision in choosing Northern Ireland to help us build this capability.

"Our Northern Ireland team has developed our new software platform which is at the cutting edge of AI and is already benefiting some of the largest brands in the world — for example, we have helped the Kansas City Chiefs deliver significant revenue uplifts of 15%.

“We want to continue pushing the limits of innovation and building on our success in markets such as North America, where we are aiming to achieve significant sales by the end of 2024.”

The company won £5m in investment from UK-based Lloyds Banking Group and the Castelnau Group.

It said it now has “strong growth ambitions” with NI a critical driver for its growth.

Its investment has been backed by economic development agency Invest NI.

Anne Beggs, its director of trade and investment, said: “An ambitious company like Ocula Technologies had many options to establish its headquarters.

“Choosing Northern Ireland is an important vote of confidence in our talent, infrastructure and R&D capabilities and the company is a great addition to our thriving software development sector.

“R&D is a key component of the Department for the Economy’s 10x Vision, which will drive Northern Ireland’s future economic success.

"The benefits of investing in R&D are rich, and Ocula is testament to how R&D can enable the development of game-changing products which can drive competitiveness in the global marketplace."

She said the agency was working with the company in other ways.

“To support the commercialisation of Ocula’s R&D in both GB and the US, the company is also working with our trade division, which is supporting Ocula’s presence at two upcoming key e-commerce events in GB and the USA.

“In addition, our team in the US has provided advice and guidance on growing sales in the market, including supporting the company during a trade mission to Atlanta.”

Mr McKenna previously worked at management consultancy Bain and Tesco-owned data science company Dunnhumby Limited.

Invest NI’s R&D support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Source: Belfast Telegraph