A language analysis tech firm based in Lancaster has secured funding from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Relative Insight was born out of a 10-year research project with Lancaster University’s linguistic and cyber security departments.

It initially used its language analysis technology to help law enforcement agencies identify criminals masquerading as children in chat rooms.

Alongside that use, it now also applies the same methods to help brands such as includes Disney, Unilever and Havas interact and communicate more effectively with their audiences, focusing on comparison of the way people speak to derive insights that fuel sharper strategy and smarter communication.

It received the investment from Maven Capital Partners, which manages the £57.5 million NPIF.

The fund is intended to provide flexible equity funding to high-potential SMEs primarily based in the North West with a focus on supporting their growth aspirations and contributing to regional economic development, job creation and innovation.

“The investment from Maven will allow us to ramp up our customer facing operations, accelerate development, and capitalise on the proliferating opportunities in the UK and, increasingly, the USA,” said Ben Hookway, CEO at Relative Insight.

“Having customers like Unilever and Disney proves that we have a valuable solution and the investment will allow us to scale to new customers.”

R/GA, a New York-headquartered international advertising agency and subsidiary of Interpublic, the worldwide marketing agency group, has selected Relative Insight as one of eight early stage technology businesses onto its Marketing Tech Venture Studio programme.

Martin Clark, investment manager at Maven, said: “Maven is very pleased to have secured this investment into Relative Insight and look forward to working with the talented management team, helping them achieve their ambitious growth plans.

“Relative Insight epitomises the kind of early stage growth business that the equity finance part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is designed to assist.”

Edwin Booth, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “Relative Insight is a great example of collaboration between higher education and industry in Lancashire, and the LEP actively encourages all of our businesses and colleges to find exciting ways to work together to drive innovation.

“But as well as great ideas and passionate people businesses need investment to help them grow.

“This is why investors like Maven, working with the NPIF, to support firms like Relative Insight are vital to the county’s economic growth.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.