Volume 11, Number 2 Summer 2003 Software Spotlight
Software Study Yields Areas for Partnering
The US software industry, despite the passing of the dot-com phenomenon, remains a vital component of the nation’s growth and competitiveness in the global economy. A recent study of the industry by Battelle Memorial Institute found that US firms currently account for about 90 percent of worldwide software sales. The US market for software alone is projected to reach $31 billion by 2006, an increase of nearly 37 percent since 2001. Moreover, the application of innovative software technology will continue to spur productivity and other competitive advantages for industries throughout the economy.
In view of the software industry’s vitality, NASA’s ongoing software R&D, and the common drive for new software capabilities, NASA is pursuing software technology transfer and partnering activities to leverage and bolster innovation in the nation’s software sector. As part of this initiative, NASA recently completed a broad review of the software marketplace to assess opportunity areas for technology transfer and collaboration that intersect with advanced software technology that NASA is developing for its programs pushing the frontiers of science, technology and exploration.
The strategic assessment, which was performed by Battelle for NASA’s Office of Aerospace Technology, first considered software technologies and projects reflecting NASA’s investment in software R&D. Armed with this insight, Battelle undertook market research, including industry interviews, to gain commercial/market perspectives on potential areas for transfer, licensing and partnering. Targeted surveys of the NASA Tech Briefs readership provided additional depth to the more intensive review of several opportunity areas, confirming, among other findings, the positive interest in partnering with NASA to develop software solutions.
The strategic assessment resulted in several areas identified as having strong synergy with NASA software R&D and high potential for collaboration with industry. In recent years, the innovative application of software and associated computational technologies to manage, mine and analyze the deluge of biological data from genomics research and other fields has become a competitive necessity for firms operating in the life sciences marketplace. Likewise, in addressing the challenge of extracting knowledge from the immense volume of data generated by its Earth Science, Space Science and Aerospace Research Programs, NASA continues to develop novel software for data fusion, pattern recognition, feature extraction, modeling and simulation, automated knowledge discovery and other applications that are in sync with the needs expressed in the growing market for bioinformatics and other segments of the life sciences. Battelle’s research also highlighted the growing challenge across many industries of exploiting data sets that are increasing in size and complexity. Thus, in addition to the life sciences, this trend presents a broad, crosscutting opportunity for exploring the transfer and collaborative development of software for data management, analysis and understanding.
Another high-potential area for NASA/industry collaboration centers on software for engineering design, analysis and modeling, and the need to integrate such software within projects and across the production process. From the pioneering introduction of NASTRAN for finite element analysis over 30 years ago to the more recent development of the revolutionary CART 3D for aerodynamic simulation and other advanced software tools, NASA has been and remains a significant source of innovation in the overall area of engineering software. In this and other key areas, NASA is seeking partners to transfer and develop software that advances the state of the art and the market. Q
To learn more, go to http://www.nctn.hq.nasa.gov/software/ or contact Jonathan Root, NASA Headquarters, 202/358-1845. Please mention you read about it in Innovation.