Cultivating Innovation: A Working Partnership

At NSIN, the National Security Innovation Network, our mission is to build
new networks of innovators to solve national security problems in new ways. We are dedicated to bringing together defense, academic and entrepreneurial innovators. The alliance of these vital communities provides an arena for collaborative
solutions to real-world security challenges. Virtualitics joined the NSIN network because the company saw an opportunity
to put the knowledge of its high-powered data scientists and machine learning experts to work with the Department of Defense. CEO Michael Amori talks about who Virtualitics is and
what the partnership can do for the company. Virtualitics is a unique, um, data analytics and data visualization platform that is based on over
10 years of research at Cal Tech and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. What we’re trying to do is enable domain experts to find insights in their data. The partnership has, has been great because NSIN has enabled us to connect with many different parts of the DoD that we would otherwise not even know existed. We can then find out a whole new universe of potential customers and a whole new universe of people who might really benefit from our solution. So they really are like the great connectors and I think
in that sense that’s been very valuable. A partnership with NSIN also resonated with Virtualitics because
the network stressed two major points: the prominent role of academic institutions and fueling the startup community. Virtualitics, with its origins as a spinoff from Caltech
— the California Institute of Technology — and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, exemplifies the huge potential for innovation at the intersection of academia and venture communities, as well as how NSIN
can leverage solutions coming out of the nation’s top universities. About four years ago at a Cal Tech Alumni event, I met Professor Jorgoski. Who is the head of the astronomy department at Cal Tech. He is also the founder of the big data center at Cal Tech. And he showed me the research that he had been doing combining A.I. with 3D visualization and with virtual reality to really understand his own data. I was really intrigued by what he was doing. At the time, I was working on Wall Street. I was head of a large trading desk. And using a lot of data science as part of what I was doing and I thought that what he was working on really made a lot of sense. And through him I met the key guy, Ciro, who was spearheading, um, this initiative at Cal Tech, and he became our CTO. I also met Scott Davidoff, who runs the team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that created virtual Mars, for the mars rover, And with all these guys we decided to start a company. Since partnering with NSIN, Virtualitics has achieved significant growth, and also experiencing other benefits of the Network One of the greatest benefits is that it allows the people from our company to work shoulder to shoulder with DoD people on real life problems,
understanding what’s really important to them and – this is really important – together with them, trying to figure out how to solve these problems. The value to Virtualitics comes in the fact that
we are exposed to a much bigger set of potential customers, a much bigger set of potential use cases, We also understand better the perspective of the DoD.
So if we want to become someone who really helps the DoD solves some big problems, it’s important
for us to really understand the perspectives of a wide variety of people within the DoD.
And NSIN allows us to understand the perspectives of many different parts of the DoD For Virtualitics, being part of the NSIN network isn’t just important to its business development today. Amori sees it as part of the company’s plan for future growth in the form of opportunities to work on the emerging needs of those
who serve in the defense of our national security. I see several things. One is having NSIN continue to educate us on what are the potential use cases within the DoD for the kind of technology that we’re developing. And also, helping steer us toward how we develop this technology going forward. So, given the needs that are out there, given the call to action from the DoD, how should our technology change over time to meet that call to action. And I think NSIN can basically be seen as a great intermediary between startups such as ourselves and the DoD.

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