AICorp of Waltham, Massachusetts is letting Schroder Ventures take the strain of its further expansion into Europe. In return for an injection of $7m of venture capital, Schroder becomes the owner of AICorp Europe, a holding company based in Holland, which manages AICorp’s offices in the UK, Germany, France and Benelux. AICorp US retains the […]
AICorp of Waltham, Massachusetts is letting Schroder Ventures take the strain of its further expansion into Europe. In return for an injection of $7m of venture capital, Schroder becomes the owner of AICorp Europe, a holding company based in Holland, which manages AICorp’s offices in the UK, Germany, France and Benelux. AICorp US retains the option to buy its offspring back at any time with price depending on the timing of the offer and the European sales performance. Meanwhile, the subsidiaries have an agreement to sell and support AICorp products exclusively in their regional markets, and AICorp US will earn royalties based on these sales. Basically, the venture capital will be used to promote AICorp’s knowledge based management system KBMS within Europe, thereby establishing it as a major player in business expert system solutions prior to the Single Market of 1992. Over the past 10 months that the IBM mainframe version of KBMS has been on sale in the US, 60 copies have been sold into 30 different customer sites, and this is a sales pattern the company would like to repeat in Europe. It expects to have a 40% world wide market share of knowledge-based business software within five years with a projected 25% to 30% of that coming from Europe. One European customer already voicing its satisfaction with AICorp products is British Gas North Thames which has bought KBMS and the proprietary natural language system Intellect to capture data at source and report back in Intellect from the IBM DB2 relational database. Indeed, the key to AICorp’s competitiveness is probably its Intellect natural language system which makes KBMS perfect for the introduction of knowledge based management at a clerical level, the company claims. Unfortunately, the company has no plans at present to offer any version of Intellect other than English. In view of its interest in the Single European Market, surely AICorp should, at the very least, make a token effort and polish up its Esperanto.
The company also took the opportunity to announce the launch of its new KBMS/PC product which began shipping 30 days ago in the US. This version of KBMS for micros is not a cut-down of the mainframe version, rather it constitutes a implementation of that version into the desktop environment under OS/2. (An MS-DOS version starts shipping next week.) AICorp claims that both the micro and the mainframe versions are 100% compatible so that developers can run anything built on the mainframe on a micro by using the file transfer facility on, for example, the ASCII file format. The range of database interfaces on the mainframe version, however, is not on KBMS/PC, but via file transfer it can reason with corporate data stored in DB2 or IMS databases with the products’ Systems Application Architecture Common User Access compliancy offering seamless integration. The company sees two main markets for KBMS/PC: buyers taking a first look at Expert System technology who would see the stand-alone product as a low cost, low-risk way of bringing knowldege-based management into their company; the second market will be composed of developers wanting a workstation tool on which to build, test and maintain mainframe applications without using up precious mainframe resources. Both the OS/2 and MS-DOS versions cost UKP6,500, run on 80286 or 80386 machines and respectively run under OS/2 1.0 and above, or MS-DOS 2.0 and above. The management system takes up 2Mb of memory, but requires 4Mb to function properly with a knowledge base and data storage. A run-time version of specific applications on multiple in-house and remote micros will also be available later in the year. – Katy Ring