News story

Media tracking firm wins Knowledge Transfer Partnership 2015

Signal Media and Essex University carry off 'Best of the Best' award after KTP associate joins company as head of research.

A tie-up between a London-based media monitoring start-up and Essex University has been named Best Partnership in the annual Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) awards announced at Innovate UK 2015.

Developing natural language processing apps

The aim of Signal Media’s KTP with the university’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering was to develop the innovative natural language processing applications that would underpin the new company’s products and services.

Signal, founded in 2012 by David Benigson, now analyses more than 3.5 million blogs and news sources every day to create targeted feeds. As well as offering de-duplication and advanced filtering options, the software adapts and learns as the user interacts with it. Customers include Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Daily site.

Signal achieves fast growth in staff numbers

The collaboration with Essex University led to considerable growth as Signal’s staff numbers grew from 3 to 23 in less than 2 years. Miguel Martinez-Alvarez, the young graduate brought in at the outset to deliver the project as KTP associate, has since become head of research at Signal and a shareholder in the company.

£1.2 million in private investment in 2015

The company has raised £1.2 million through private investors this year. The partnership and its results also featured in many scientific publications and won the award for best demonstration at the European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR).

Dr Martinez-Alvarez said:

We developed our first prototype six months into the project. We are now 25 people, and our customers range from big corporates to SMEs. Without KTP it would have been very difficult to achieve that, especially being able to bring academic researchers into the business to work with the software developers.

Professor Udo Kruschwitz, the academic lead for the partnership, added:

The collaboration with Signal has been highly beneficial for all partners. There has already been a number of undergraduate and postgraduate students working at Signal via paid internships, and this is expected to continue.

Signal and Essex University are co-organising a workshop on recent trends in information retrieval at next year’s ECIR conference in Italy.

Business Leaders of Tomorrow

Dr Martinez-Alvarez was named a Business Leader of Tomorrow in the 2014 awards. This year’s winners are:

Winners of the KTP Business Leaders of Tomorrow awards on stage at Innovate 2015
Winners of the KTP Business Leaders of Tomorrow awards at Innovate 2015

The KTP Awards recognise the people and partnerships that are behind the most inspirational and successful KTP projects. Other categories and winners were:

The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme has been helping businesses for 40 years to improve their competitiveness and productivity through better use of knowledge, technology and skills to be found within the UK knowledge base.