Honors Gallery

Commercialization of ORNL’s Piranha Text Mining Tool by VortexT Analytics, Inc.

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2017

Award Type: National

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Piranha is a software suite developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that enables the cost-effective and efficient evaluation of large volumes of unstructured text-based data across many different formats.

The software provides unparalleled processing speeds and is ideal for data mining applications when large amounts of text-based data must be analyzed quickly and effectively. Prior to their technology transfer effort, ORNL researchers used the technology in their work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to mine large amounts of text-based data in order to help the Bureau with specific cases.

The team was instrumental in the transfer of Piranha via commercial copyright and patent license agreements to Global Security Information Analysts, LLC (GSIA), a subsidiary of Professional Project Services, Inc. (Pro2Serve). They also orchestrated a second transfer via licenses to VortexT Analytics, Inc., which is a joint venture between Pro2Serve and nonprofit healthcare system Covenant Health.

This effort was highly unique for several reasons. ORNL authorized the inventors to participate directly in the commercialization of the technology, allowing them to form a joint venture with Pro2Serve—GSIA—and hold equity in the new company. The inventors helped GSIA personnel learn the software until they were up and running on their own. 

A second license enabled marketing the technology to non-government organizations and the formation of the small company, VortexT Analytics. This resulted in the addition of new licenses between ORNL and Pro2Serve.

The benefits of this effort are significant and have broad-reaching impact. Specifically, the technology transfer effort resulted in the continuation of data mining software and services to ORNL’s original Piranha client, the FBI, by allowing GSIA to continue the work with the FBI when the agency’s growing needs surpassed what ORNL could provide.

The transfer also resulted in the formation of a new U.S.-based small business (VortexT), spurring economic development through the creation of jobs and commercialization activity.  Lastly, the transfer led to the establishment of a joint venture between VortexT and Covenant Health, with the potential to improve patient care and lower health care costs in the largest hospital system in East Tennessee (and potentially other health care systems in the future) by improving data analysis for patient electronic health records.