Northwestern Launches Information Technology Development Laboratory

November 2, 2001

Northwestern University has launched the Information Technology Development Laboratory (DevLab), a technology development center within the University designed to turn promising research prototypes into complete and robust applications, with the backing of DevLab founding member Motorola, Inc.

DevLab will utilize Motorola expertise to support the development and deployment of software technologies for commercial use. Motorola Ventures, the global strategic venture capital investment arm of Motorola, will provide investment funding to entrepreneurial businesses sponsored by the DevLab.

Linked to Northwestern’s computer science department, the DevLab leverages the resources and economies of scale of the University while focusing on the development of commercially viable software solutions. Unlike standard university “technology transfer” organizations that license ideas, DevLab’s mission is to create software solutions that are field-tested, readied for commercial deployment, and finally, commercialized either through technology licensing of the fully developed solutions or through the creation of new companies.

“This is the first step in creating a new model that builds a relationship between the academic community and today’s global leaders in the technology industry,” said Kristian Hammond, DevLab director and professor of computer science at Northwestern. “With the DevLab, we are leveraging the intellectual capital of Northwestern University with a global leader in communications and embedded solutions, Motorola. The DevLab model also will speed the development of commercially viable products while retaining the research strengths of the university community.”

“Motorola is committed to supporting promising business ideas at the earliest stages sponsored by the Northwestern Development Laboratory. This investment reflects our continuing desire to tap top scientific and technology expertise at the country’s leading academic institutions,” said Warren Holtsberg, corporate vice president, Motorola Ventures. “Motorola is always exploring ways to forge productive external relationships that accelerate development of world class customer solutions and provide consumers with new, smarter, synchronized products they can use anytime, anywhere.”

Motorola, Inc. is a global leader in providing integrated communications solutions and embedded electronic solutions. Sales in 2000 were $37.6 billion. Motorola Ventures actively invests at early stages in developing companies of strategic value to Motorola in order to accelerate access to new technologies, new markets and new talent.

Motorola’s funding will help the DevLab launch innovative start-up companies that will foster and grow a number of strategically important technologies. The first application coming out of the DevLab is a proactive software search assistant called “Watson” that reads along with a user and immediately searches for relevant information while he or she is online. Because Watson is literally reading the same documents as the user, it is able to find and present surprisingly precise results. Designed for flexibility, Watson is able to retrieve documents from nearly any online resource and analyze most electronic documents.

“A recent report released by the [City of Chicago] Mayor’s Council of Technology Advisors showed that we in the Chicagoland area must raise the rate of technology transfer from R&D centers,” said Lydia Villa-Komaroff, vice president for research at Northwestern. “We have created a new way to eliminate some of the barriers inherent in technology transfer. The DevLab model, designed in conjunction with Motorola Ventures, is not only good for Northwestern, but also for the Chicago technology scene as a whole because it shows that a partnership between academia and industry can work.”

More information on the DevLab is available from Kris Hammond at (847) 467-1012 or or at Information on Motorola is available at