Cybersecurity is focus of new start-up incubator

Texas uni announces the Institute for Cyber Security.

The University of Texas at San Antonio Tuesday announced a technology incubator aimed at fostering IT security-based start-ups within the state.

Based at the San Antonio campus and funded with US$3.5 million from the state of Texas, the Institute for Cyber Security is organized under the direction of Ravi Sandhu, professor of computer science, and Ravi Ganesan, university researcher (both are cofounders of the firm TriCipher).

"They've given us a lot of freedom," Sandu says, adding that the one-time grant from the State of Texas emerging-technology fund is structured so that selected start-ups -- which must be in Texas -- can turn to help from researchers and engineers associated with the university.

"We're dispensing 'capital in kind,'" says Ganesan, the Institute's director of commercialization, explaining that means giving the selected start-ups the university's assistance in technical research, business, and access to venture-capital contacts, if possible.

The Institute for Cyber Security, founded in 2007 but making its official debut this week, is aimed at commercialization of concepts put forward by start-ups.

The selected start-ups receiving the Institute's backing would have to agree to provide the university with some stake in the business, with those terms not disclosed.

San Antonio-based start-ups Denim Labs and Safe Mashups are the first two selected to participate in the technology incubation project. Denim Labs was established by Denim Group, a local firm that wants to productize an intrusion-detection tool it devised for Web sites, Ganesan says.

Safe Mashups is Ganesan's own fledgling firm, set to officially debut next year, which is tackling the challenge of how complex Web applications that combine data from multiple sources can keep track of it all in mashups of data sources.

The Institute anticipates selecting about three more start-ups to support under the technology-incubator effort.

Sandhu says the Air Force, a major presence in the San Antonio area, and the National Science Foundation are also contributing funding to the Institute to research botnet defenses.

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Ellen Messmer

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