Acquisition will advance commercialization of Lab's security screening technology
SafeView acquired by security firmRICHLAND, Wash – Transferring a technology from a laboratory into a successful commercial venture is not an easy process. But when the technology is so relevant to national and world needs, it can navigate the challenges to commercialization – not once but twice. Such is the case with the millimeter wave technology developed by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to detect hidden weapons. The technology was the basis for creating a successful company and now is enhancing the security offerings of another.
L-3 Communications, a major provider of military and security products, has acquired SafeView, Inc., which originally licensed the millimeter wave technology from PNNL in 2002. Over the past several years, SafeView, in collaboration with research and development staff at PNNL, continued developing the technology used in Safeview's security screening systems which are currently in use around the world.
"It's vitally important that the R&D team continues to be a resource to the licensee," said Cheryl Cejka, director of technology commercialization at PNNL. "We all win when the laboratory is very deliberate about finding the right organization and then working with that licensee to help build value in the company, which in return benefits the lab, our licensee and the marketplace."
PNNL researchers originally developed the scanning technology with funding from the Federal Aviation Administration beginning in 1989, although the technology has its roots in three-dimensional holographic imagery used for nondestructive evaluation of nuclear reactors in the 1970s.
Millimeter waves generate holographic images which can be used to identify hidden weapons, explosives and other items – even plastic, ceramic and other non-metallic weapons. SafeView's ScoutTM Personal Screening system is safe and ensures personal privacy while rapidly identifying contraband that someone may be carrying. Its detection capabilities go far beyond metal detectors, passive millimeter waves and backscatter x-ray systems.
The portal-based technology takes about one second to scan a person and the scan is then reviewed in a matter of 7 to 15 seconds. Systems are currently used to secure soldiers and workers in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, at border crossings in Israel, railway stations in the United Kingdom, international airports in Mexico City and Amsterdam, ferry landings in Singapore, government buildings like The Hague and commercial buildings in Tokyo.
"SafeView has done an amazing job of deploying this potentially lifesaving technology already, and we expect that becoming part of L-3 will allow SafeView to further expand the placement of screening portals to serve a wide range of security needs," said Cejka. "This is a good return on the original investment of taxpayer dollars."
SafeView also had an early investment boost from Battelle Ventures, an independent venture fund that invests in early stage technology companies. Battelle Ventures was established in 2003 and invests primarily in businesses that will benefit from Battelle-owned or-controlled technologies. PNNL is managed by Battelle.
In 2004, the millimeter wave holographic scanning technology won the prestigious R&D Magazine's Editor's Choice Award as "Most Promising New Technology."
In 2005, PNNL received a Federal Laboratory Consortium award for excellence in technology transfer. That award was shared by SafeView and another company, Intellifit Corp., which licensed the basic technology for a very different application. Intellifit uses the holographic scanning process to measure people to ensure accurate sizing in the apparel industry.
PNNL is continuing to leverage the technology for other scanning and measurement applications that have promising commercial potential.
Susan Bauer, PNNL, (509) 375-3688
Greg Koller, PNNL, (509) 372-4864
Photo available upon request
PNNL (www.pnl.gov) is a DOE Office of Science laboratory that solves complex problems in energy, national security, the environment and life sciences by advancing the understanding of physics, chemistry, biology and computation. PNNL employs 4,100 staff, has an annual budget of more than $700 million, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab's inception in 1965.
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