Grants awarded to forward-looking tech vendors

Seven California companies developing products that could help make the Internet a better place to do business have been awarded Next Generation Internet (NGI) grants by the state of California, the nonprofit group CommerceNet, which manages the grant program, said Monday.

The companies are developing products that should help businesses and governments use the Internet more effectively for commerce, IT outsourcing, customer service and other activities. Most are figuring out ways to exchange information in real time between suppliers, partners and customers, and were chosen in part for their potential to help accelerate the evolution of the Internet as a business medium.

Each company received a U.S. dollar amount "in the low six figures," a spokeswoman for CommerceNet said. Perhaps more importantly, they can also gain access to powerful computers and high-speed networks that are part of the federally funded Next Generation Internet and Internet2 programs, providing a futuristic environment for them to test and develop their products.

The grants were funded by the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency's Division of Science, Technology and Innovation, which hopes the grant program will help the state maintain its lead in technology and create new jobs. The first round of NGI grants was awarded in 2001.

Recipients this year included Saltare Inc., of San Mateo, which is developing supply chain management applications that help companies respond instantly to changes in supply and demand; StoragePoint Corp., of San Diego, which makes software for storing, signing and routing electronic procurement documents among multiple trading partners, and San Francisco-based WebV2 Inc., which is developing Java-based products that link companies' ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems in a distributed, peer-to-peer model, rather than using a central server.

Aside from the injection of funds, grant recipients gain access to advanced computing resources like the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, and the California Research and Education Network (CalREN,) a high speed network run by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC).

San Francisco's Blue Titan Software Inc., another grant recipient, is developing software for managing Web services that are deployed over networks, taking care of security, queuing, performance measurement and other functions. Its grant will help fund a joint project with the SDSC that could one day help the government respond to a disaster such as a toxic spill, said Sam Boonin, Blue Titan vice president of marketing.

The SDSC is working on a way to quickly upload information about a spill into its supercomputing grid, run scenarios based on different winds and ocean currents, devise an evacuation plan based on the results and then distribute it to government agencies. Blue Titan's networking fabric provides a "connective tissue" that stitches various parts of the system together, Boonin said.

"This grant enables us to work with them to deploy a Blue Titan Web services network within their infrastructure and work with some of their data and their knowledge systems," he said.

Grant recipient CRIA Technologies Inc. is building software for use by service providers and corporations to manage outsourced IT services. It covers a range of functions including capturing information about the servers and networks being used, monitoring who uses what services, and providing alerts about network events and performance issues.

"We hope to use one of the NGI centers to do the stress testing and multiple node testing," said Usha Sekar, founder and chief executive officer of the Mountain View-based company. "This will allow us to build a framework where you have multiple customers distributed globally, because we're also looking at offshore outsourcing."

The other grant recipients are Avere Inc., in Palo Alto, which is making software for managing outsourced supply chain management systems that it says can perpetually balance supply and demand, and Open Harbor Corp., of San Carlos, which is developing an automated import/export system for global trading companies that uses XML messaging and can process high volumes of transactions.

More information about the NGI grant program is at

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