firstRain , a Foster City, Calif.-based research service firm, upgraded its research service adding "ecosystem" coverage for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 and the Russell 3000.

The ecosystem approach is designed to allow investment managers to make informed decisions on information relevant to their specific needs, with fewer resources, and delivers idea on a company's competitive landscape, supply and demand chain and other qualitative factors.

firstRain uses patented search technology to deliver information from a variety of open, obscure and subscription Internet sources and then models the results into "ecosystems" for a sector or stock. The service scans 12,000 authoritative information sources, including blogs, regional, trade and business publications and international media. The research is delivered on a daily basis and each company is able to customize the information they receive.

This is pertinent to the industry, as more and more fund companies are starting to conduct their own in-house research to save money. "Fund companies look at the long-term investment horizon and need to be able to access hidden information that is relevant to the stocks and research they cover," said David Frankel, vice president of financial services. There has been an equal interest from mutual funds and hedge funds alike, he said.

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