The entrepreneur behind a Manchester firm hopes to secure a $50,000 prize from Unilever after being nominated as one of the world’s top data start-ups.

Canadian entrepreneur Andrew Ko is heading to the I-COM Global Summit in Porto, Portugal next week after his company Personalyze was recognised by the I-COM Global Data Startup Challenge 2017.

Ten firms – three from the UK plus entries from the US, Germany, France, Israel and Turkey – have been nominated for the data award. The winner will receive the funding for a pilot.

“The award recognises start-ups who leverage value from marketing data and measurement as the central selling point of their product or services,” he told BusinessCloud.

“We definitely think we have a great chance of winning, especially with all of the amazing work we’ve done with our clients so far and the response they’ve given us.

“Hopefully, this nomination has started to give our brand the global awareness we believe it deserves.

“Winning would be an incredible shop window for us, which would help in all aspects of our business: exposure to potential new clients, strategic partners and potential investors.”

Personalyze is a data-driven tech firm which enables brands to understand customer behaviour on social and mobile platforms.

One strand of the tech, TopicDNA, can decipher a person’s interests, behaviours and passions from their social media handles within five seconds, while the other, MobileDNA, can assess personality from music listening habits.

Ko told BusinessCloud earlier this year that he was forced to park the "scary" profiling technology until recently because it was two years ahead of its time.

“All the finalists look very interesting, in particular the US companies who seem to be at a more mature stage and taken on millions in seed funding,” Ko continued.

“As a whole, we’re up against much more established companies, all of which have taken on significantly more investment.

“There will be an incredible array of marketing and data companies in attendance in Porto. Some are already our clients, but hopefully we’ll pick up lots of new potential clients and strategic partners.

“The necessary evil of being a start-up is trying to raise investment. So it’s good to know that there will be notable angels and investment funds/VCs in attendance.

“We expect to do a lot of talking over there, so if our voices aren’t hoarse by the time we come back, we’ve not done our job right.”

Personalyze is one of the Northern Stars while last year it was also a finalist in the Global Twitter #Promote competition. Ko has high hopes for the future of the firm.

“In the next 12 months, we are looking to scale up our team to cope with the tremendous demand for our technology,” he said.

“We’re rolling out different products and services as we speak.”