UA Computer Science Startup Wins $150K SBIR Grant

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
UA Computer Science Startup Wins $150K SBIR Grant

TUCSON, Ariz. – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded University of Arizona startup company Dataware Ventures, LLC, almost $150,000 for the development of “software analysis tools for field specialization of database management systems,” according to the grant. 

"This grant will help us scale our tools, in terms of more precise analysis and shorter running time, to handle the literally millions of lines of source code comprising modern database management systems," explains Richard Snodgrass, CEO of Dataware Ventures.

This Phase 1 SBIR award not only provides development funding now, but also makes Dataware eligible for an additional $30,000 in Phase 1B funding and $750,000 of Phase 2 funding.

SBIR/STTR Programs, such as the one that funded this award, are federally funded initiatives designed to develop innovative technologies and stimulate small business growth and economic development.

The company’s original technology, an invention called micro-specialization, was developed in the UA College of Science's Department of Computer ScienceSaumya Debray, Ph.D., and Richard Snodgrass, Ph.D., professors of computer science, led the research.

Rui Zhang, Ph.D. initiated the work as part of a computer science research project while he was a doctoral student in Debray and Snodgrass’s lab. The technology then was developed over three years; the last six months were spent developing a working prototype, with a patent application for the technology submitted in December 2012.

To commercialize Zhang's innovation, Debray and Snodgrass partnered with Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), the UA office that brings inventions stemming from University research from the lab to the market, to create a new company, Dataware Ventures. TLA helped the team to evaluate the commercial landscape, develop and protect the intellectual property, license it to the new company, and strategize for the startup. TLA also provided proof-of-concept funding to help the team further define and validate their software.

To ensure on-target business strategies to get the company off the ground, Dataware Ventures joined the Arizona Center for Innovation, a business incubator at Tech Parks Arizona (part of TLA); AzCI provided training and assistance via their Mentored Launch program as the company moved towards commercializing the invention.

"This grant was possible only because of the support, training, and advice that first AzCI and then TLA provided throughout the last three years from the original patent application to this award," Richard Snodgrass emphasizes. "TLA's involvement has been critical to getting us to where the NSF is investing in our technology and in our company."

“We’re very proud of and excited for Dataware’s success,” says TLA Vice President David Allen. “On a larger scale, this is yet another indication that the UA is making headway in terms of bringing more SBIR/STTR funding to the region to help these business increase their contributions to our economy.”

Through a community initiative it calls Tech House, TLA working to increase SBIR competitiveness in Arizona, with specific attention to the Southern Arizona region. Through the initiative, the office is bringing together associations, incubators, accelerators, services firms and consultants, and connecting them within an ecosystem of researchers, small businesses, prime companies and government agencies to build effective teams to pursue SBIR and STTR funding opportunities.

Photograph: The Dataware Ventures team, from left to right. Top: Ben Dicken, Saumya Debray, Rick Snodgrass, and Sean Mason. Middle: Rui Zhang and Steve Thomas. Front: Josh Gustafson and Christian Convey. Image credit: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

- written by Paul Tumarkin
Paul Tumarkin