DHS Commercialized A Tool That Applies AI To Pharmaceutical Research

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It comes as the seventh piece of tech the agency shepherded from lab to the marketplace this year.

A government-funded artificial intelligence tool that finds patterns in complex datasets will be loosed on commercial drug research, a division of the Homeland Security Department said Friday.

This is the seventh technological tool to transition from government and university research labs to the private sector this year under the program managed by Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate.

The directorate on Thursday granted Bullfrog AI, a Maryland-based artificial intelligence company, exclusive rights to use the data analytics tool Socrates in the field of biopharmaceutical research. Initially developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Socrates can be used to discover patterns in complex datasets related to finance, energy, cybersecurity and a number of other fields.

It was licensed to Bullfrog AI as part of S&T’s Transition to Practice initiative. The program aims to push technologies developed by the government and academia to the global marketplace, and has transitioned nineteen tools through commercial and open source rollouts since 2013.

“This commercialization shows conclusively that the ‘Transition to Practice’ Program is living up to its name and fulfilling its mission by consistently transitioning innovative technology to the marketplace where it can make the most impact,” said Douglas Maughan, director of S&T’s cybersecurity division, in a statement.

Every year the agency selects eight pieces of promising technology and puts them through a development process intended to make them more mature and market-ready. Nadia Carlsten, program manager of TPP, compared the initiative to a startup accelerator designed to make federally-funded technologies more attractive and useful as commercial products..

Academic and government researchers often lack the resources and professional relationships to commercialize the technologies they develop. TPP is a “connection point” where they can meet investors and industry experts who can get the projects off the ground, Carlsten told Nextgov.

“There are really great technologies out there, but because transition is such a hard process, they haven’t been utilized,” she said. The biggest goal of TPP is “making sure those technologies get [the] visibility [and] resources they need to grow from a project in a lab somewhere that nobody knows about to something that actually can become a product that someone’s interested in.”

The program currently has 40 different technologies in its portfolio, and S&T is continually looking for new areas where they can be licensed out for commercialization, she said.