Business incubator has homeland security focus

The National Security Agency and Nokia Corp.'s incubator have formed the Chesapeake Innovation Center, a homeland security business incubator that opened this summer in Annapolis, Md.

Innovent, Nokia's incubator, established its East Coast offices at the center and will serve as a conduit between emerging homeland security activity and the resources of Nokia, the Finnish wireless communications firm.

NSA will collaborate with the incubator on commercializing homeland security-based technology, as well as introducing emerging technology into NSA, said Bill Badger, president and chief executive officer of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. in Maryland.

NSA has "a keen interest in doing more procurement with small and minority businesses. I think that is a focus we will be able to help them with," Badger said.

The incubator is an initiative of Anne Arundel County, Md. The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. is the lead agency.

"We are the first incubator we know of that has homeland security as our primary focus," Badger said.

The incubator will provide business startup services, investment networks and facilities to accelerate the growth of early stage ventures in security and defense, communications and information technology. Innovent and Lighthouse Communication Services are the first of up to 25 incubator tenants, Badger said.

Lighthouse Communication Services combines wireless voice and data with global positioning system technology to provide services for emergency response teams, roadside assistance and personal security for mobile users.

Some of the Lighthouse principals developed the technology used in the OnStar service, which uses satellite and cellular technology to link car drivers to safety and information services.

"They are trying to apply that [technology] to some homeland security opportunities," Badger said.

Badger said he hopes to have five more tenants signed by the end of August. Companies nationwide have inquired about the incubator. It has 24,000 square feet of space available, he said.

ARINC Inc. of Annapolis, a transportation communications and systems engineering firm, and Piper Rudnick LLP, a Baltimore law firm, are founding sponsors of the incubator. Each contributed $25,000, and Piper Rudnick also contributed legal services, Badger said.

More information about the incubator is at www.cic-tech.org.

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