Oak Ridge partnership merges strengths of lab, private sector
An Oak Ridge engineering services firm with an international footprint has teamed with three Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists to form a subsidiary and market a 2007 R&D 100 award-winning text analysis system.
The subsidiary, Global Security Information Analysts LLC, is the product of Professional Project Services (Pro2Serve) and the inventors of Piranha, software used by the military and Department of Homeland Security to analyze large sets of streaming data.
"Piranha can find similar documents to a document of interest, remove duplicated documents such as identical news stories from different sources, and automatically classify documents by topic," says ORNL's Tom Potok, one of the software's inventors. The technology has been used to find and arrest child predators and to uncover illicit activities.
Barry Goss, founder, chairman, and CEO of Pro2Serve, sees the licensing of Piranha as a triple play for ORNL, the scientists, and his company.
"Melding the software with subject matter experts and providing expert analytical services can have a profound impact on solving national security issues," Goss says. "Having direct involvement of the scientists who developed the software will obviously help our subject matter experts more effectively apply the software to solve critical problems for our government clients.
"Our hope is that this new venture will grow, expand the local business base, and create high-quality jobs in our community."
Potok and co-inventors Robert Patton and Jim Treadwell will remain at ORNL to continue research and development of Piranha while Global Security Information Analysts will help broaden the user base of Piranha through added technical and analytical support.
"It has long been a dream to see Piranha commercialized and widely used," Potok says. "This new model and company make this possible."
Global Security Information Analysts will provide the services of subject matter experts equipped with the latest high-powered software tools like Piranha to analyze large amounts of textual data and provide accurate and relevant information gleaned from the data.
The concept for this novel business model for strengthening technology transfer emerged as part of the Piranha software product development.
Like Goss and Potok, Mike Paulus, director of ORNL's Technology Transfer Division, believes the Global Security Information Analysts component will make this a winning formula.
"It is often very valuable for inventors of a technology to participate in its commercialization," Paulus says. "ORNL's 'outside activity' program enables staff members to participate in entrepreneurial activities outside the laboratory while maintaining their primary jobs of developing technology inside the laboratory.
"We believe that this business model will prove successful and we hope it can be applied to a number of other technologies developed by ORNL in the future."
Piranha, which won an R&D 100 Award in 2007, was developed through DOE's Work for Others program.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory