Start-up Company for Homeland Security Software Gains Spotlight

Feb. 7, 2006
RiverGlass software used to analyze threats in real-time, parse useful threat data

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Amidst corporate heavyweights in the Illini Union, was a table for a less known enterprise, RiverGlass Inc., a company that traces its origins to the University of Illinois.

Part of the first of the two-day Winter 2006 Business Career Fair, the company specializes in the creation of homeland security software, in addition to other products that deal with intelligence gathering.

RiverGlass recently received the Innovation Award for Best Early Start-Up Company from the University's Vice Chancellor for Research, Charles Zukoski.

The company also recently received a $150,000 Innovative Product Grant from Gov. Rod Blagojevich in recognition of its role in producing high-tech homeland security products. Illinois is the first state to fund this type of program.

"The company is growing at an incredible speed," said Helen Min, a public relations intern for RiverGlass and a University graduate student.

Min is one of many interns, all of which are enrolled at the University as undergraduate or graduate students. Many of the interns are seniors and RiverGlass is looking for students to fill those positions, Min said. Significant portions of the full-time employees are also affiliated with the University, she said.

Using their software that can organize and analyze data in real time, the company is dedicated to helping customers manage risks, solve critical problems and make informed decisions.

This software has already proven useful to the Illinois state police who signed a million-dollar contract with RiverGlass to speed up the analysis of crime data.

"The technology started to be developed at the University," said Gwen Niequist, an account executive at RiverGlass and University alumna.

Professor Michael Welge, head of Automated Learning Group at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, decided to transform the software research project into a commercial venture in December 2003.

Welge worked with IllinoisVENTURES to acquire capital for the young company to begin collaborations with major corporations. IllinoisVENTURES is a start-up services company that works to turn University research projects into viable commercial ventures.

The company still conducts business from Enterprise Works at Research Park, which acts as the University's incubation space for businesses developed by faculty and staff. All development is done in Champaign, Ill., though the company has expanded to west Chicago where its business headquarters are partly located, said Peter Groves, who works in technical sales and is a University alumnus.

In the future, the company hopes to assist law enforcement agencies in tracking crime and terrorism. It also aims to help corporations in competitive intelligence gathering.

Businesses looking to maximize portfolios and telecommunication companies working to update inefficient procedures and plug revenue leaks, are all potential customers of RiverGlass.

(U-Wire -- 02/06/06)