MSU-guided international security competition reaches next stage

Contact: Robbie Ward

STARKVILLE, Miss.--Five high-technology companies specializing in functions from eye scanning to data encryptions are semi-finalists for the North American leg of the Global Security Challenge organized, in part, by Mississippi State University.

The semifinals will take place Sept. 5 in Washington, D.C.

MSU and GSC joined earlier this year to serve as host for the U.S. competition, where the top North American selections present business plans to a panel of judges. Entrants submitted executive summaries of their business.

Organizers of the international competition seek the world's most promising security technologies. Along with other semi-finals in Singapore and Germany, companies in North America, Europe and the Far East are seeking to earn a spot to present business plans Nov. 8 at the overall finals event sponsored by the London Business School. The overall winner will receive a $500,000 prize and mentorship from Paladin Group Capital, a top worldwide venture capitalist company.

"This year, the number of submissions to the challenge has increased by leaps and bounds, which seems to indicate a global understanding of the need for innovation in these areas," said Simon Schneider, co-director of the GSC and a former homeland security consultant with the IBM Corp.

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Kirk Schulz, MSU's vice president for research and economic development and panel moderator for the semi-finals, said he anticipates the competition stimulating significant interest among high-technology companies for entrepreneurs. He said the 129-year-old land-grant institution shares many goals of the competition, such as finding ways to transform research into commercialized products, techniques and concepts.

"As a leading research university and economic development engine in Mississippi, we encourage competitions that allow researchers in the security sector to learn about business aspects of their inventions and meet potential partners to move their ideas forward," Schulz said.

The five U.S. semi-finalists include:

--NoblePeak Vision of Wakefield, Mass., the rapid detection and identification of people and objects at night without active illumination;

--EyeMarker of Morgantown, W.Va., which scans the eye to rapidly and non-invasively assess a person's health;

--Stealth Technology of Los Angeles, Calif., privacy-preserving data mining software to enable information sharing between agencies or enterprises;

--MagiQ of New York City, hardware-based quantum key distribution to protect data transported over fiber networks; and

--MICA of Stow, Mass., disruptive encryption software combining asymmetric keys with unique relationship identifiers.

The North American semi-finals will be held at the Crystal City Marriott, where business plans will be presented to leaders from the U.S. government's Technical Support Working Group and National Science Foundation, along with MSU and Accenture and Redshift Ventures, two private international service firms. Jay Cohen, undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will open the event.

Founded by London Business School graduate students, the Global Security Challenge is sponsored by TSWG and Homeland Security, as well as Smith's Detection and Accenture. Designed to identify the most promising security technology start-up business, it is the first such international challenge created to help feed the growing market for new security technology.

Mississippi State traditionally is among the U.S. research institutions ranked in the top 10 percent by the NSF, based on recent science and engineering research expenditures. The university's aggressive technology commercialization program emphasizes engineering and agriculture. In recent years, the university's Thad Cochran Endowment for Entrepreneurship has collaborated with federal agencies and industries to help increase technology-oriented, start-up companies.

Mon, 08/20/2007 - 05:00