Info sharing tools licensed for intelligence users

In-Q-Tel, the CIA's technology investment incubator, has expanded a licensing agreement with one of its client companies to make a collaboration application available to all U.S. intelligence analysts.

The deal with Tacit Knowledge Systems Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., includes the company's off-the-shelf ActiveNet product, as well as technology developed to government requirements. Although In-Q-Tel originally invested in a core product called ESP, ActiveNet is 'of particular interest and undeniable value to a wide range of government customers,' In-Q-Tel chief executive officer Gilman Louie said.

The CIA in 1999 set up In-Q-Tel as a private, nonprofit enterprise to speed development of commercial products for the intelligence community. In-Q-Tel makes direct investments in companies, brings companies together with venture capitalists, licenses products for government use and ensures that products meet specific government needs. It has invested $1 million to $3 million in each of more than 20 companies.

The Tacit arrangement is 'pretty similar to most of our deals,' said Kim Cook, director of technology assessment.

In-Q-Tel originally invested about $11 million in ESP, which discovers business activity and identifies communities of interest. The goal was to acquire application programming interfaces to other applications, and Tacit's commercially packaged ActiveNet product, which was based on ESP and had a user interface, was not of interest at the time.

'They made that product much more functional for our agency customers,' Cook said. When demand for ActiveNet grew, In-Q-Tel expanded its licensing agreement with Tacit.

ActiveNet learns about peoples' activities within an organization by analyzing the flow of information and identifies people who are working on related information. It brokers network connections between users on related projects, monitoring third-party collaboration tools. It manages the shared data internally without needing an outside hub.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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