BUSINESS REPORT: Georgia – GT Info Security Center Supports Cyber Start-Ups

By Jack Rogers
From the March/April 2012 issue

Pindrop Security has developed technology that hopes to stem the growing problem of phone fraud. The Internet and free software tools have made it easy for criminals to spoof Caller ID and pretend to be whomever they like.

Andreeson Horowitz, a Silicon Valley venture firm that’s invested in Facebook, Groupon and Twitter, is betting the Atlanta, GA startup can make good on its goal of reinvent a more secure Caller ID. The Pindrop startup is based on “acoustic fingerprint” detection techniques developed in the Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC), Pindrop Security says it can restore trust to the telephone network and help stem the tide of phone fraud.

[box type=”info” float=”left”]Georgia FAST FACTS

  • Population (2010): 9,687,653
  • Largest Cities (2010): Atlanta, 420,003; Augusta, 195,844; Columbus, 189,885; Savannah, 136,286
  • Targeted Industries: Aerospace, Agribusiness, Logistics, Biosciences, Health IT, Manufacturing, Energy & Clean Technology
  • Key Incentives: Quality Jobs Tax Credits, Mega Project Tax Credits, Single Factor Apportionment, R&D Tax Credits, Regional Economic Business Assistance Grants
  • GDP (All Industry 2010): $403.1 billion*

*Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce

Pindrop is the second company arising from the Georgia Tech Information Security Center to attract venture capital funding. The first, Damballa, is a network security company launched in 2006.

Georgia Tech’s VentureLab program staff connected the connected the fledgling company to relevant resources in the Atlanta area. Pindrop received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program (the company received help in developing the application the Enterprise Innovation Institute).

VentureLab also connected Pindrop to additional early-stage funding from the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), and supported it in winning $50,000 in funding from the startup competition operated by the GRA and Technology Association of Georgia. The company also obtained office space in the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) incubator in Technology Square. The space allowed it to hold down costs while expanding staff to six full-time and three part-time people.

This spring, Pindrop joined Flashpoint, a new Georgia Tech accelerator that offers early-stage technology companies educational programs and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs. Pindrop is a textbook example of how all the components of Georgia Tech’s commercialization infrastructure can work together to support researchers developing technology that has commercial applications.

[box type=”note”]

Georgia’s Research Alliance

  • GRA Eminent Scholars: Enterprising scholars are recruited to Georgia with each receiving a $750,000 endowment from GRA, an amount that the research university matches in private funds on a minimum 1-1 basis.
  • GRA VentureLab Commercialization Seed Award: This new award is designed to facilitate more university-based discoveries and inventions to market. The Call for Proposals is open to full-time faculty at four-year academic institutions in Georgia. Georgia-based full-time scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also eligible.
  • The Georgia Centers of Innovation provide tech support to businesses and start-ups in aerospace, agribusiness, energy, life sciences, logistics and advanced manufacturing.



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