Newcastle software company targets £3m in new sales

iParadigms Europe Ltd, based in Charlotte Square, has doubled its headcount from 25 to 50 in the past 12 months, having secured a number of significant contracts since setting up on Tyneside

Julie Sunderland, James Thorley, Helen Murray, Mark Harnor, Will Murray and Sam Allan
Julie Sunderland, James Thorley, Helen Murray, Mark Harnor, Will Murray and Sam Allan

A Newcastle software company is set to boost its workforce by more than a third over the next year as it targets new sales of more than £3m.

iParadigms Europe Ltd, based in Charlotte Square, has doubled its headcount from 25 to 50 in the past 12 months, having secured a number of significant contracts since setting up on Tyneside.

The company supplies Turnitin plagiarism prevention software to universities, colleges and schools in more than 120 countries worldwide, a system which works by comparing submitted work to a vast database of content including web pages, journals and student papers and highlighting similarities.

During October 2010, when the iParadigms’ international arm was established by its US parents company, more than 214,000 students were using Turnitin. Three years later, in October 2013, this had risen to almost a million.

Having doubled in size during 2013, the firm is poised to create 19 new jobs in the new year, a rise of 38% in staffing levels.

Will Murray, Turnitin’s vice-president product and international, said: “This is a fantastic success story for the North East, particularly in the midst of a recession. It demonstrates how hardworking and dedicated employees are in this region when given the right environment and tools.

“It’s a great area for recruiting talent, especially software engineers and multilingual marketing talent.

“I started with eight staff in a spin out from Northumbria University in October 2007. In December 2012 we had 25 staff, we now have 50 and in 2014 we will have 69 staff.

“2014 is going to be another huge year for growth, we’ll be taking on more staff and we are hoping to achieve at least $5m (£3.07m) in new sales.”

Almost 100% of UK universities, and 10,000 institutions worldwide, now use Turnitin and next year, the company will continue to target emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

This year it clinched a country-wide government-backed deal to supply Turnitin to all universities in Nigeria. The national rollout, the first in Africa, is worth more than $500,000 (£307,000).

iParadigms Europe originated at Northumbria University in 2002, established by academics and business people with the aim of providing the type of support and customer relations the founders have liked from their own e-learning suppliers.

In 2007 the start-up, then called nLearning, span out from the university and three years later was acquired by US-based iParadigms, which announced nLearning would become iParadigms Europe Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of California-headquartered company.

In 2001, the university was chosen by JISC, the UK expert in digital technologies in education, to host a national plagiarism detection project.

In tandem with advice and guidance from the then newly-formed Plagiarism Advisory Service, universities and colleges were given access to Turnitin software free of charge for an initial three years.

Recent analysis showed that the nationwide rollout resulted in a 59% reduction in unoriginal – or potentially plagiarised – essay content between 2002 and 2012.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer