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aQtive was formed by Dr Russell Beale, a research lecturer at the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham, Professor Alan Dix of Lancaster University, Dr Andrew Wood, a postgraduate from the University of Birmingham and has more recently been joined by Peter Marchant, aQtive's Chairman.
The ideas for the company were formed in the autumn of 1997 based on over 10 years of academic research and commercial experience in IT. Together, the founders developed aQtive's first software product, onCue. The technology was based on Andy's PhD work influenced by Russell's interest in agent technology and artificial intelligence and Alan's theoretical work on user-interfaces.
Before these ideas could be turned into reality, aQtive sought funding for the project from a number of different venture capital firms. Earlier in 1997, Russell had secured a potential deal from backers from Silicon Valley, but after much soul searching decided that the deal was not right and turned it down. The decision proved to be the right one, but it took a further year of work, numerous refinements of the business plan and approaches to several potential venture capital companies to secure the necessary finance. One of the companies approached was 3i, the UK and Europe's leading venture capital company. After endless meetings and much uncertainty, the team secured its backing with an initial seed investment. 3i were later joined by Specialist Technology Fund (STF) a hi-tech investment company co-owned by Peter Rigby and SCH (Specialist Computer Holdings), the biggest privately owned computer seller in the UK.
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