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IBM Helps North Carolina State University Address ’Big Data’ Challenge to Bring Innovative Technologies to Market


ARMONK, N.Y., - IBM (NYSE: IBM) and North Carolina State University today announced a new project that matches university-invented technologies and scientific advancements with global business opportunities. The project is designed to encourage economic growth and get new inventions 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.

Analytics technology allows 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.

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 and 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 these information.

From genetics and engineering to technology and climate change, NC State researchers are investigating some of the planet’s toughest questions. As a public institution, NC State is committed to making research results available for public benefit, including through the commercialization of new technologies. Over the past five years, NC State has contributed to the economic development in North Carolina and beyond by spinning out 23 new start-up companies, creating more than 200 jobs.

The goal of this project is to improve the efficiency in 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 using traditional methods. Businesses are quickly turning to technology to process the petabytes volumes of data, also known as “Big Data” and extract relevant 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,” said Billy Houghteling, director of the Office of Technology Transfer at NC State. “This project allows us to concentrate on those activities of highest value and payback for the university.” 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.

Made in IBM Labs - Analytics Addressing Big Data Challenge

Developed in IBM labs around the world, the analytics technology used in the pilot project mines large amounts of unstructured Web data. 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.”

As part of this project, NC State is using IBM BigSheets, a part of IBM’s BigInsights portfolio, a software engine that helps get insights from really large data sets easily and quickly, 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, Web site content and enterprise applications and IBM Cognos Content Analytics, an analytics software which gives organizations the necessary tools to access and analyze the volumes of unstructured content. These three components were running on IBM Distribution of Apache Hadoop.

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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For more information on IBM Big Data solutions, visit:

For more information about NC State’s Office of Technology Transfer, visit:

For more information about IBM’s Emerging Technology projects, visit


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