Law enforcement software orders roll in as company goes for growth, says Kristy Dorsey

MEMEX, the intelligence analysis software developer based in East Kilbride, is set to announce several significant new contract wins on the back of completing a management buy-out of the business.

The company, whose products are used by law enforcement agencies and others to detect crime and fraud, has been purchased from US parent company Lason for an undisclosed sum. It is now aiming to more than treble is turnover within four years, and will announce a clutch of new business from the US within the coming few weeks.

Memex already generates about a third of its turnover - which this year is expected to amount to between (pounds) 2.5m and (pounds) 3m - from the US. Clients include the Pennsylvania State Police, the FBI's Drug Intelligence Group, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau in Chicago.

Managing director David Carrick said he didn't necessarily expect to gain new business in the wake of heightened security concerns following last week's terrorist attacks in the US. He predicts the tragedy will translate mainly into additional people being employed in a variety of ways to ensure safety.

However, he does believe Memex will be able to capitalise on a trend that was emerging prior to the disasters in New York and Washington, DC.

''I think a lot of (US organisations) are coming around to the kind of intelligence-led policing we do in the UK,'' Carrick said.

''I think it's down to economics. You can only employ so many people, so you've got to use your resources more effectively.''

Carrick led the buy-out of the business together with Paul Millan, sales director, and Sir David McNee and John McCormick. They, together with Memex's 30 staff, have an approximately 75% stake in the business.

Additional financial support was provided by the Strathclyde Investment Fund, which has a roughly 20% stake, while the remainder is owned by Scottish Enterprise Lanarkshire and Scottish Enterprise's Business Growth Fund.

Carrick and Millan joined Memex, a 1984 spin-out from Heriot-Watt University, as programmers in 1990. The company was bought a year later by London-based M-R, which in turn was taken over by Lason in the summer of 1999.

Carrick said the idea for the management buy-out emerged when Lason started discussing the potential disposal of its UK operations. They put forward their buy-out plan, but the deal was complicated when Lason subsequently decided to sell off the UK operation, excluding Memex. The buy-out of the Scottish operation eventually took some 18 months to complete.

Customers have been supportive of Memex's transformation into a stand-alone company, Carrick said. There are also advantages in taking the business out of a larger corporate structure.

''Clearly we can re-invest our profits now back into the business, so from that point of view it's very important for us,'' Carrick said.

''We've got a couple of (new projects) that we're working on behind the scenes, but we probably won't want to talk about those until the end of the year.'' These include software products targeted at both the law enforcement and commercial markets, Carrick added.

Increased activity across the Atlantic has prompted Memex to hire a third sales person at its US office. This will likely be followed in a few months by an additional technical support person, Carrick said.

The company's two main products are the Information Workbench and the Crime Workbench. They are used to record and store information from a variety of sources, and then make links between nuggets of data, thus turning it into intelligence.

For example, a traffic report places an individual and his car at a certain location, and at a certain time. While it might not seem important at the time, it could later be crucial in solving a crime.

In the UK, Memex products are used by the Metropolitan Police, the British Transport Police, five out of nine Scottish forces and a further eight in England and Wales. It has also been sold in countries as far-flung as Poland, Russia and Australia.