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Surviving The Crunch

The credit crunch and global recession was bad news for most businesses — but not for Causeway Data Communications. With property values in meltdown, there is a good profit to be had for a company producing software that provides accurate, but affordable, property valuations.

Selling software to banks to provide up-to-date values on the homes on which their loan books were secured has become a lucrative development. Yet it is a departure for a company initially focused on providing low cost valuations for property taxes.

Causeway Data Communications (CDC) emerged as a spin-off company from Ulster University’s Coleraine campus in 1997. Adrian Moore is managing director of the company, on secondment from the university, where he is Professor of Geographic Information Science.

In The Beginning

The genesis for CDC came originally from research by Moore and Ulster’s Professor of Telecommunications, Gerard Parr. Their work attracted attention within the university, keen to develop Academic Enterprise and Technology Transfer activities to increase commercial income, including the creation of spin-off companies. The University, through its UUTech company, remains a minority shareholder in the company.

At first, CDC provided consultancy services, but in 2002, the company changed direction and moved into the production of its own property valuation software.

Its first major contract was to Northern Ireland’s Valuation and Land Agency, selling software for computer-assisted mass appraisals of property values, which became the basis for local rates bills.

Following the commercial success of this product, CDC looked to external markets.

The most lucrative of these has been the United States, where every county (small local area) has to conduct property valuations on a frequent basis. The collapse in banking confidence and inter-lending was, to a large extent, caused by a lack of confidence in the underlying value of the securities on which financial institutions loaned money. In particular, it was unclear how much the properties were worth on which sub-prime home loans were awarded. CDC’s software had an obvious application in providing the answers. Consequently, property valuations for home lenders — on new and old mortgages — has become the fastest growing part of CDC’s product range.

“We will be growing the business in the next 12 months and making a push in that market place.”

The Next Phase

CDC is well positioned to achieve that surge in the next phase of development. It is now in advanced negotiation with an investor to finance substantial expansion of turnover and staff. The company has nine staff and will soon look to increase this.

With the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus on its doorstep , finding highly qualified graduates has not been a problem. The irony is that as the value of the world’s assets plummeted, the value of this company — which values those assets — has multiplied.

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