Local contest underway for best software use

Local contest underway for best software use

October 8th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Aerial photograph of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.

Aerial photograph of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant...

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.


• When: Nov. 8, 10 a.m.

• Where: Business Development Center, 100 Cherokee Blvd.

• Contacts: Enterprise Center, 423-425-3772, or doll_c@theenterprisectr.org

Technology designed to help predict where U.S. soldiers are most likely to encounter explosives in Iraq is at the center of a Chattanooga competition to commercialize the military software for civilian use.

"It's getting the technology ready for market," said Chris Daly, the director of technology development and transfer for the Chattanooga Enterprise Center, which is overseeing the third annual Y-12 Innovation Competition in Chattanooga on Nov. 8.

While competitors may develop a business plan on any Y-12 National Security Complex technology, the competition will focus around two pieces of predictive and logistics software.

In addition to the probability based analysis tool that was crafted to help locate improvised explosive devices in Iraq, another software evaluates a group's characteristics to determine their behavior. The intended use of this software is to predict when a change of behavior is beginning to occur so the user can respond to the anticipated trend in a timely manner.

Wayne Cropp, who heads the Enterprise Center, said it has a contract with Oak Ridge's Y-12 complex to conduct the competition, which is in its third year. The winner will receive $2,500 and business assistance for the development of a potential startup company.

Daly said a winning software team taking part in the competition could license the software, or it could simply enhance the tool for use by a business or entrepreneur.

"We want to be able to reference their enhancements," Daly said.

He said a five-judge panel will pick the winning team. While the competition is open to any team, the Enterprise Center is focusing on the Chattanooga area and the Southeast.

"We think we'll have regional participation," Daly said.

He said plans are to have an in-house work session in Chattanooga on Nov. 7. The next day, teams will unveil their work products, Daly said.

In past years, a pair of technologies coming out of the competition eventually were licensed, said Cropp. He said the competition helps create opportunities for business and shortens processes.

Daly said the competition helps push ahead the culture of entrepreneurship that the Chattanooga area is trying to encourage. He said all of the teams taking part likely will use the ultra-high-speed Internet offered through Chattanooga's EPB.

Built during World War II to help create the atomic bomb, the sprawling Y-12 facility's role now is to process and recycle enriched materials and do nuclear component manufacturing and testing. It disassembles weapons, disposes of materials and does packaging and storage. Located near Oak Ridge National Laboratory, it sits on 811 acres. More than 6,700 people work at Y-12.

The Enterprise Center promotes high-tech economic development in the Chattanooga area.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.