IBM Teams with NC State to Push Big Data, Tech Transfer

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-08-11
 
 
 

IBM and North Carolina State University have announced what they described Aug. 11 as "a new project that matches university-invented technologies ... with global business opportunities."

An IBM statement said:

"The project is designed to encourage economic growth and get new inventions and scientific advancements from NC State researchers into the marketplace quickly.

Commercializing new technologies is a multi-phase process that involves matching academic research with potential investors and then working closely with the inventors to provide counsel regarding patents and copyright to assist in determining the most effective methods to take the inventions to market. The biggest challenge in this process is the ability to quickly sort through massive volumes of data to uncover potential investors and partnerships.

To address this challenge, NC State will use IBM's advanced analytics technology to streamline the time consuming process of searching and matching potential university research projects with investment and partnership opportunities."

Indeed, it is IBM's analytics technology that enables NC State researchers to "search through massive amounts of Web data, such as blogs, forums, reports, industry-related news sites and government Websites to produce a short list of potential investors. By streamlining the matching process with business analytics, more advanced technologies are expected to be brought into the market," IBM said. The statement continued:

"For example, a team of researchers at NC State is investigating new strains of Salmonella for use in vaccines. With IBM Big Data analytics technology, it took less than a week for the university to analyze 1.4 million Web pages including opinion blogs, social networks and documents. The analytics technology sorted through a wide variety of information and analyzed the contents in real time to find relevant details [...] ultimately identifying potential investors and partners to grow the project. Prior to the use of IBM analytics, this process would have taken months and involved dozens of people clipping newspaper reports, visiting Web pages, making telephone calls, hiring translators, and then trying to figure out a way to compare all [this] information."

"In our pilot project, IBM Big Data analytics allowed our team to understand the potential opportunities for our research projects, while at the same time reducing the tedious workload of finding potential investors," Billy Houghteling, director of the Office of Technology Transfer at NC State, said in a statement. "This project allows us to concentrate on those activities of highest value and payback for the university."

The IBM statement said, "Faculty and MBA students in NC State's College of Management and the college's Center for Innovation Management Studies are part of the team working with Houghteling on this project." It continued:

"The goal of this project is to improve the efficiency [with] which NC State identifies potential high priority industry partners when they are trying to move university-owned early stage technologies into the marketplace. Using IBM's "Big Data" analytics technology, NC State can mine and analyze large amounts of web-based data, resulting in a short list of companies that might be interested in licensing technologies created at NC State.

With the amount of digital data created annually predicted to grow 44-fold over the next ten years, NC State, similar to business and industry, is faced with a big data challenge. The expansive growth and sheer volume of data, some of which contains valuable information for an organization, is making it difficult if not impossible to sort through [data] using traditional methods. Businesses are quickly turning to technology to process the petabytes [...] of data, also known as "Big Data," and extract relevant information. [...]

Developed in IBM labs around the world, the analytics technology used in the pilot project mines large amounts of unstructured Web data, IBM said. The analysis is based on factors such as business relevancy, government policies, market needs and trends, etc.

"The volumes of data on our planet are growing exponentially, which represents huge opportunities for organizations that can unlock the insights hidden within the mountains of information," said Rod Smith, vice president of software technology at IBM. "N.C. State University sets an example of using smart analysis of big volumes of data to explore and kick start new businesses that push our economy forward."

The statement went on, "As part of this project, NC State is using [several IBM technologies, including] IBM BigSheets, a software engine" out of IBM's Emerging Technologies team "that helps get insights from really large data sets easily and quickly." BigSheets is aimed at line-of-business professionals and is part of IBM's BigInsights portfolio. NC State also uses "IBM LanguageWare, a text analytics tool created by IBM's Dublin Software Lab in Ireland for the purpose of harnessing the wealth of unstructured data contained in text documents, Website content and enterprise applications." The university also is using IBM Cognos Content Analytics, which IBM described as "an analytics software [technology]" that provides organizations with "the necessary tools to access and analyze the volumes of unstructured content. These three components were running on IBM Distribution of Apache Hadoop."

The statement concluded, "Today, IBM is working with more than 250,000 clients worldwide on analytics projects, including 22 of the top 24 global commercial banks, 18 of the world's top 22 telecommunication carriers and 11 of the top 12 U.S. specialty retailers."

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