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Winners of Pitch Challenge Taking Advantage of Business Opportunities in UK’s Digital Hot-Spot

Palo Alto, California(PRESS RELEASE – January 29, 2010) – Five Silicon Valley start-up companies recently toured and met with high level executives from businesses in the North of England as part of their award for the inaugural Geeks Going Global pitch challenge. The companies-Equilibrium, Visuvi, CrowdZone, LinkedNow and Hear Planet-were given a chance to follow several other successful Silicon Valley enterprises that have planted their roots in the sought-after North of England region.

The newly formed Geeks Going Global, sponsored by the North of England and Liverpool Vision, hosted a pitch contest last October at Sun Microsystems’ Enterprise Business Center. At stake for five winning companies was an all-expense paid trip to Liverpool to meet with potential partners and customers, and establish a lasting presence in Europe’s largest digital and IT market.

“We were impressed at the level of competition,” says Gareth Lewis of the North of England Inward Investment Agency. “To witness so many companies vie for this opportunity with such intensity further demonstrates the value that the North of England region holds for the industry.”

Liverpool and the wider North of England region has become a top location for many Silicon Valley companies, including HP, Cisco, Google and Yahoo, to set up their UK and European operations. Major cities like Manchester, Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Sunderland are home to a large cluster of digital media and IT-based companies. The region boasts a low cost of doing business and an existing infrastructure that makes it simple for companies to hit the ground running. Successful local grown talent, like Wildfire, YR Free and WorkCast, add to the area’s appeal, making it a strategic entrepreneurial location for Silicon Valley-based companies to dabble in the European market.

During the recent Geeks Going Global five-day trip to Liverpool, winning companies met with more than 250 high level executives from the city as well as the region’s most successful investors. The group was given the opportunity to learn about cultural differences as well as what it takes to be successful in the UK market before taking the leap of setting up an office.

“Liverpool and the North of England as a whole have a lot to offer early stage businesses,” says Steve Echtman, founder and CEO of Hear Planet. “The personal and professional climate is very appealing and we have already had very productive follow-up meetings and communications based on introductions made during our trip. I am extremely impressed by the excellent emissaries from the North of England and I fully expect we’ll be involved in the region within the next year.”

Sean Barger, CEO of Equilibrium, confirms that the trip has helped them establish roots in Preston where they intend to roll out their products utilizing the region’s strong sports and media environment.

As a result of the success from this collaboration, The North of England and Liverpool Vision is replicating this trip for Bay Area investors and entrepreneurs to meet with some of the region’s hottest entrepreneurs. Geeks Going Global plans to hold another pitch contest later in 2010.

Gareth Lewis of the North of England Inward Investment Agency’s California office provides ongoing support to local companies considering an expansion into the UK market. They currently offer comprehensive packages to reduce the risk and cost of setting up a business in the UK.

About the North of England Inward Investment Agency (NoE)

The North England Inward Investment Agency is a British Government-funded consultancy and UK-based inward investment agency whose role is to advise and assist North American companies considering UK/European expansion. Our services are free and confidential and include the provision of information on a wide range of important issues such as: market feasibility studies, business plan support, site selection, potential procurement of financial assistance/public grants, taxation issues, work-force training and recruitment, supply chain opportunities, skills availability, labor costs and regulations, market data, links and collaborations with universities, introductions to key professional services and regulation advice. For more information, please visit www.northengland.com

Liverpool Vision is a city on the up. A city transformed into one of the UK’s leading business destinations by an ambitious and far-reaching regeneration program. A city where £4 billion has been committed to physical regeneration and investor confidence is at an all time high. Liverpool Vision is the economic development company charged with the city’s physical and economic regeneration. It will lead the next phase of the city’s transformation. http://www.liverpoolvision.co.uk or contact ssmith@liverpoolvision.co.uk

Equilibrium is a software company which specialises in helping enterprise clients of all sizes to manage, monetise and mobilize content. They help clients save significant time and money when redistributing or repurposing content across multiple platforms. Many multichannel retail, manufacturing, publishing, financial, education, healthcare, government and media and entertainment companies throughout the world use their patented automated media processing solutions. www.equilibrium.com

Crowdzone is a B2B mobile application platform which enables any venue to create a branded, custom mobile application to enhance the customer experience during events, increase venue and vendor revenue and communicate directly to attendees through their own interactive in-pocket marketing channel. A custom mobile application can benefit any venue where a large number of individuals with similar interests congregate and Crowdzone works with stadiums, malls, airports, theme parks, schools, resorts, hotels, cruise ships, casinos and conferences. www.crowdzone.com

HearPlanet is a mobile publishing platform for content providers and an ad distribution network that delivers targeted customers to advertisers and businesses. It’s like having a professional tour guide always by your side. It helps you leave those bulky tour books behind and lets HearPlanet show you the way. You get global coverage with hundreds of thousands of locations with additional enhanced content added daily. Geolocation brings you instant info on what’s nearby, making travel convenient and stress free. www.hearplanet.com

LinkedNow claims to be the best social networking platform for working professionals and has two main goals. The first is to help you find, review and talk about what’s great – and not so great – about your current and past employers. The second is to enable the best ways of looking for a new job online. www.linkednow.com

Visuvi is a visual search engine with patent pending technology in content-based image retrieval. The image query processing technology examines the content within an image, categorizes that information as mathematical vectors to deliver relevant, real-time search results. Visuvi technology is robust enough to accommodate areas as diverse as e-commerce search, automated image tagging, and medical image feature detection and analysis. Visuvi is a privately held company based in Redwood City, California. Additional information can be found at www.visuvi.com