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July 5, 1993

NEURAL NETWORKS START TO FIRE UNDER UK INITIATIVE

By CBR Staff Writer

Four months into life, the UK Department of Trade & Industry’s drive to tell us about neural computing has a 7,500-strong database growing at the rate of 300 a week, and even a few customers. It has UKP5.75m to spend on spreading awareness and boosting the work of focussed consortium development clubs, and it has to get 1,000 firms to use the technology and 6,000 to consider ‘going neural’ within three years. Ray Browne, the Department’s programme co-ordinator, is confident targets will be made. Most interest has so far been shown by a mix of small, medium and large companies from the manufacturing, finance and business services sectors. Touche Ross & Co, which is handling the initiative for the Department, will now use neural computing to identify the needs and profiles on the database. One of the first customers is Thomas Cook Holidays which is getting Neural Technologies Ltd to develop software that analyses the characteristics of prospective travellers and matches them to a destination. Nick Ryman-Tubb, Neural’s technical director, said Thomas Cook did not use this technique to save money, but to make business, by targeting the same number of clients, but doing so more accurately. However, neural computing is a relatively inexpensive technology: Thomas Cook paid Neural a UKP6,000 flat fee, though the total bill will be more.

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