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Arria is aiming to stay strong with client help

ARRIA NLG has signalled it will continue to grow its development base in Aberdeen as it picks up new clients.

The AIM-listed company, which uses technology developed by natural language generation (NLG) and computing academics from Aberdeen University, counts Shell and the Met Office as its main customers.

Interim results for the six months to March 31 showed a 57 per cent increase in revenue from £200,000 to £330,000. The bulk of revenue, £301,000, came from outside the UK where Arria's system is used on Shell's offshore platforms across the Americas.

The Met Office was responsible for the £29,000 of revenue in the UK where Arria provides three and five day forecasts online for the organisation.

Arria chief financial officer Wayne Thornhill admitted the revenue growth was from a low base but the uptick was "encouraging".

Pre-tax losses for the six months came in at £5.3 million, compared to £7.3 million in the comparable period.

The company said its underlying net monthly operating costs had dropped one per cent from £528,000 to £521,000.

Staff numbers at the end of March stood at 54, compared to the 30 employed at same point in 2013. Professor Ehud Reiter and other scientists at Aberdeen University developed NLG technology which could turn large amounts of data into readable text. He and his colleagues then spun-out a company called Data2Text which was acquired by Arria in October last year.

The interim results show Arria paid £3.125 million for the Aberdeen business as well as issuing more than 23.16 million shares.

Prof Reiter holds a 5.175 per cent stake in Arria as do his colleagues Dr Somayajulu Sripada and Ian Davy while John Perry, also part of the Data2Text team, holds 2.25 per cent.

Aberdeen University has a 4.725% stake in Arria.

Mr Thornhill confirmed the London company, which floated on AIM in December last year at 120p, expects to continue adding to its team in the north-east of Scotland which currently employs around 30.

He said: "Our core development business is in Aberdeen. As we increase our commercial activity we need to staff up there and as we bring on new clients you will see that increase."

As well as increasing its customer base in oil and gas Mr Thornhill indicated fracking and drilling activities are also being targeted.

Outside the energy industry he highlighted the potential for NLG in financial services plus sectors such as health, mining, power and defence.

A new software platform, called NLG Studio, is also expected to speed up software development times. Mr Thornhill said: "Natural language generation is a niche skill and you needed highly skilled engineers who had a background in computational linguistics.

"What the NLG Studio does is sit above that and allows ­engineers and developers without that specific expertise to develop in NLG.

"Effectively it turbocharges our development process. That fits very nicely with our increased business development activity and pipeline as it creates the capability for us to deliver."

Shares were down 1p at 63p.

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