About Us

Gnowsis was a European startup developing Refinder. Founded in 2009 in Vienna, we were building the next generation of collaborative information management. Our aspiration was to increase the productivity of knowledge workers by separating the signal from the noise. We shut down on 6th December 2013, read the story here.

Many people in various projects are facing a multitude of applications, people, and data. Knowledge work is often a mess of copy-pasting data from one application to another. Keeping an overview of all activities in a project is a headache. To solve this, our vision was 

  • help you organize your work
  • while you keep working with your existing tools
  • and Refinder learns about your data and recommends you the relevant data when you need it.

To make Refinder a learning, intelligent system, we were applying research from artificial intelligence and text analysis. Our software was based on the idea of the Semantic Web and the Social Semantic Desktop and free&open standards.

More information...


Our management team brings in outstanding experience in the Semantic Web and Semantic Desktop areas.

Leo Sauermann, Founder and CEO

Leo Sauermann is CEO of Gnowsis and responsible for sales and strategy. His Mission is: making information work easier. He is a pragmatic expert on semantic web, personal information management, and enterprise social software. He worked for the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Impact Business Computing, Compaq, and contributed to projects of the World Wide Web Consortium, Eclipse.org, and others.
He envisioned the first "Semantic Desktop", a tool to get a good overview on all your information and finding the right thing when you need it. This idea lead to the NEPOMUK Social Semantic Desktop EU Project, where he and others created a vision for the next-generation software of semantic-web-based knowledge work.
His career started in Vienna as a software architect for startup companies, learning how to make customers happy.
Privately, the believing Christian is married, enjoys netculture and the digital revolution.

Bernhard Schandl, Founder and CTO

Bernhard has been a researcher at the University of Vienna since 2004, and has been actively driving development towards the semantic desktop in the SemDAV and MobiSem project. He finished his PhD thesis in the field of semantic desktop infrastructures, for which he won the Award of Excellence by the Ministry of Science and Research in 2009. He has published numerous papers about semantic technologies and gives multimedia and semantic web technology lectures at the University of Vienna and the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien. He is also an active musician and enjoys playing drums and violin.

Supported by

Refinder was supported by aws: Gefördert durch JITU - PreSeed des BMWFJ, abgewickelt durch die aws. A substantial monetary investment by aws makes our technical research possible and we are very thankful for their continuing support.
Gnowsis was supported by FFG, the Austrian research promotion agency, an institution owned by BMVIT and BMWFI.
Research projects running to improve our products are funded by FFG.
Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft
INiTS Universtitäres Gründerservice Wien supported Gnowsis by their incubation services. INiTS is a company of the University of Vienna, the Vienna University of Technology and the ZIT as a participant of the AplusB program.
We learned a lot through the continuing support by INiTS consultants in all business areas.
Frequentis AG, the leading global supplier of communication and information solutions for safety-critical applications, supported Gnowsis with office space and networking in their incubator "Frequentis Gründerzentrum".
We are proud to have had our offices in a place where we can feel the Frequentis spirit.