A COMPANY which uses technology developed at Aberdeen University has made its debut on the Alternative Investment Market and been valued at more than £160 million.
Arria NLG's main product is based on research in natural language generation done at the university's school of computing science with the AIM-flotation meaning a group of Scottish based academics are sitting on paper fortunes running into millions.
Professor Ehud Reiter, Dr Somayajulu Sripada, Ian Davy and John Perry started spin-out company Data2Text four years ago.
Initially it was involved in looking at ways to generate high quality text for weather forecasts.
It has since adapted that model to cover different industries and its technology is being used in health
and safety monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico in the oil and gas sector as well as at the Met Office.
London-based Arria took a minority stake in Data2Text in May 2012 before more recently acquiring the company.
As part of that deal the Data2Text team and the university were given shares in Arria.
Prof Reiter, Dr Sripada and Mr Davy each have more than 5.3 million shares in the company which is equivalent to 5.21% of the share capital.
At Thursday night's closing price of 162.5p each man's stake is worth in excess of £8.6m. Mr Perry is
though to have a stake of slightly less than half of the others.
But the Data2Text executives are understood to have lock-in periods of one year so they cannot cash in their shares straight away.
The university has more than 4.8 million shares, just short of 4.8% of the share capital, which is worth around £7.8m.
Stuart Rogers, chairman and chief executive of Arria, said: "We are delighted to be joining AIM at this exciting stage in the commercialisation of Arria's innovative technology.
"The increasing growth in 'Big Data' in recent years has led to the significant expansion of our target markets. Our listing at this time is therefore highly appropriate.
"Our admission to AIM will raise the Company's profile and support the development of the Arria NLG
brand internationally. In addition, our AIM admission will give access to equity capital as needed and
facilitate the recruitment of high calibre employees to help us fully meet the company's many
NLG is a field of artificial intelligence and involves computer programmes being set up to analyse complex sets of data then translate the numbers into reports which are easily readable. Arria said it believes financial services and healthcare are other potential markets which it can break into.
It said: "Global corporations have to deal with an ever-growing amount of data resulting from the digitisation
of transactions and industrial processes and from technological advancements in data capture.
"Computer networks are producing and storing digital data at such a rate that this data is becoming ever more difficult to utilise fully. The Group's software teams first learn how experts in a given field analyse and interpret specific data, and then automate the use of these skills in the Arria NLG Engine."
Arria has raised around £25m from investors in the past 15 months but the Data2Text founders are among the largest shareholders.
Data2Text has 17 staff based in Aberdeen.