AMHERST, Mass. - EnrichNet Inc., of Chelmsford, a start-up software company that grew out of the research of Aura Ganz, a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts, has received just over $4 million in financing from a group of investors. The company, created in 1995 and formerly known as AIM Engineering, is the first to be established through the University''s Office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP).
The company''s investment group is led by the partners and principals of the private investment firm of Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst Inc., of New York City; Andrew Viterbi, of San Diego, Calif., co-founder of Qualcomm, and a member of EnrichNet''s advisory board; Clare Corporation, of Beverly, Mass., a provider of next-generation home network solutions and technology partner utilizing EnrichNet Quality of Service (QoS) Technology; Alan Menkes, of a California-based venture capital firm; and the Mass Ventures Equity Fund.
Shel Horowitz, President and CEO of EnrichNet, says the investment places the post-financing value of the company at nearly $13 million. According to Horowitz, the new capital will enable EnrichNet to hire additional employees experienced in micro-coding software and network technology; provide the company with additional computer and network equipment, establish development facilities; and enable EnrichNet representatives to travel globally in co-development efforts with strategic partners and customers.
EnrichNet offers network communication services and is developing software to facilitate wireless local area networks that support multimedia applications (voice and picture, in addition to data). The challenge, says Ganz, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is to determine how to integrate a number of different applications into one wireless local network, and provide the mechanisms necessary to support them. "The key is to develop the software and intelligence that controls or manages the flow of data," she says.
"EnrichNet is well-positioned at the forefront of the network revolution," says Horowitz. "The convergence of voice, video, and data is expediting us toward a non-geographical society. EnrichNet is an enabling technology that will provide the Quality of Service required for a crisp and clear multimedia connection. It is EnrichNet''s vision to provide local area networks with the same time-sensitive communications and data capability that we enjoy today with real-time phone service and live-feed television.
"The company is engaged in discussion with two of the world''s largest semiconductor companies which have expressed strong interest in a strategic alliance and desire to embed our technology in their next generation silicon chips," he says.
EnrichNet was the first faculty spin-off company assisted by CVIP and established according to newly created University intellectual property policies, according to E. Bradley Moynahan, Assistant Vice Chancellor and CVIP director for the Amherst campus. "The University is very pleased to have been able to work with Aura and Zvi Ganz in bringing this invention to a successful startup." Aura''s husband Zvi was the company''s first president and is now Vice President of Research and Technology.
According to Moynahan, the University holds equity in the company and will collect royalties on products developed or sublicensed by EnrichNet using this technology. One patent has so far been awarded in the U.S., and international applications are pending.
"It is very gratifying to see a University technology move out into the public sector to benefit the economy of Massachusetts. We are very proud of Professor Ganz''s achievement and look forward to many more faculty inventions in the future," says Frederick Byron, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research at UMass.
EnrichNet has recently moved its headquarters from Amherst to Chelmsford, but Horowitz says the company will maintain strong ties with the University because of Ganz''s continuing research.
Says Horowitz: "EnrichNet will provide the University with financial support of Professor Ganz''s network lab. It''s our desire to keep an intellectual path available to develop and explore new technologies that can be translated into applications within the current and future markets."
NOTE: Shel Horowitz may be reached at 978/250-0770. E. Bradley Moynahan is available at 413/545-3606. Contact Aura Ganz at 413/545-0574.
Additional information about EnrichNet may be obtained at: www.EnrichNet.com. The company''s address is: EnrichNet Inc., Four Meeting House Road, Suite 16, Chelmsford, Mass. 01824; telephone: 978/250-0770; fax: 978/250-0777.