iCMSResearchers at the Belgian University of Leuven have developed algorithms for a new generation of (enterprise) search engines and knowledge management systems.

The technology is ‘injected’ in ICMS Group, a firm that’s active in the field of information management and knowledge management. It’s one of the rare times the K.U. Leuven university has chosen not to go for a traditional spin-off model but for a less usual approach of participating in an existing firm with the technology it developed.

The market increasingly demands a complete solution for searching and managing digital information instead of vertical, fragmented solutions. Therefore the university opted for a contribution to a Belgian company that has already proven its reliability and market knowledge in this field.

Automatically connecting words, document and people: contextual enterprise search

The technology was developed at the Center for Industrial Management – Department of Mechanical Engineering – and the Department of Electrical Engineering (Faculty of Engineering) by research groups led by Professor Joost Duflou and Professor Bart De Moor.

The developed methods automatically and statistically connect words, documents and people using algorithms and thus artificial intelligence. As a result, there is no more need for (semi-) manually created taxonomies or ontologies.

A practical example. When looking for documents containing the term ‘speed’, the technology will also look for documents containing words such as ‘velocity’ and others, without the use of a dictionary is used.

If, however, a doctor (the ‘person’ aspect) searches for the word ‘speed’, the search will be performed with, for instance, ‘drugs’ as the essential term. In other words: the user profile of the ‘searcher’ is automatically detected and used to refine the search.

Investing in areas beyond enterprise search

The technology also allows for a whole series of applications that can go beyond the pure document search functionalities and ICMS intends to commercialize these functionalities (for instance analytics).

Allegro Investment Fund, an investment group operating from Leuven which provides capital to high-tech start-ups, is investing in the IT company. The capital injection aims to help fulfil the European growth plans of ICMS with the newly developed algorithms.

Professor Koenraad Debackere, general manager of the Belgian university explained that by taking this approach with ICMS Group, there are several benefits over a conventional spin-off approach: the technology can be marketed faster while benefiting from the existing expertise ICMS Group has in house regarding information and knowledge management, as well as its existing marketing share.

Furthermore, less financial investment is required and the management experience is already present. Debackere sees it as a good example of collaboration between local SMEs and the academic world.

Update: ICMS Group is now active under the name Knowliah.

Also published in Dutch on CMSCenter