Washington Business Journal
D.C. Tech Companies Flying High on $1M Deal
The Air Force is giving a local tech firm close to $1 million to develop translation software for military use. D.C.-based StreamSage won a two-year contract worth $995,685 from the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y., a spokesman for the agency confirms.
The deal provides funding to develop technology that eventually could be sold to federal and commercial customers. In a harsh venture capital market, the deal also keeps another tech-heavy firm up and running.
StreamSage, which was founded in 2000, partnered with D.C.-based GMSI as a subcontractor to assist in installing the technology for the military. The companies will not release financial details of the partnership.
Hilton Augustine, CEO of GMSI, says the partnership helps his company break into new areas of technology development for federal customers.
This is not the first contact between the two firms. GMSI invested an undisclosed amount of cash into StreamSage in January 2001.
"We have a successful relationship and this builds on that," Augustine says.
The software being created by StreamSage for the Air Force works as an electronic translating machine. Audio is fed into a device using the software, and accurate translations are spit out in a language the user understands.
"There are several important applications for this technology on the federal and commercial side," he says.
U.S. firms doing business in several regions in China, for instance, would have a need for devices that help managers from here communicate with government officials there.
Before commercial applications can be developed, however, StreamSage plans to help the Air Force improve the way it translates the spoken word.
The Air Force contract comes on the heels of another research funding deal for StreamSage. The company received a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in July to continue work on its search engine software for audio and video documents.
Last year, StreamSage secured $2 million from the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology to fund research and development of its software. The company also receives funding through the federal government's Small Business Innovative Research program.
Industry experts say the company's funding strategy — concentrating on federal grants rather than begging for venture capital dollars — makes more sense now for companies such as StreamSage.
"Getting funding for research and a customer to boot is a great plan," says Al Parker, a financial consultant in Falls Church who helps small tech firms secure financing from different sources. "The venture capital is there for some companies, but there has to be some proven technology with paying customers. No one is putting millions into research anymore."