Neuro-ID, a company founded on research and technology developed by University of Arizona affiliates, is commercializing software that can identify suspicious behaviors based on a computer or smartphone user's typing, touch, scrolling or mouse movements.
The technology could be invaluable to government and a wide range of industries including insurance, pharmacy, health care and e-commerce. And, with the help of Tech Launch Arizona, Neuro-ID has licensed the technology from the UA.
Joe Valacich, a professor in the UA Eller College of Management's Department of Management Information Systems, founded the company with his former graduate student and current assistant professor at Bringham Young University Jeff Jenkins.
"Our approach lets the data do the talking, providing a common approach for analyzing each field on virtually any type of online form," Valacich explains.
"Results are scored instantly and can scale to any number of users. Literally, millions of data fields per minute can be captured, analyzed and reported. No technology can definitively detect a lie, but our technology is really good at detecting highly suspicious responses and we are constantly improving the software in order to help organizations better manage risk and prioritize investigative resources."
Given the widespread and growing need for such technology, Rod Dunmyre, senior vice president of business development for the company, projects an excellent potential for growth.
While they could have opted to locate in Silicon Valley, Chicago, Boston or New York, company leaders made the strategic decision to set up shop in Tucson.
The leadership team consists of co-founders Valacich and Jenkins, Dunmyre, co-founder and CEO Roger Girard, senior vice president of operations Gerard Hranek and also Michael Byrd, the senior vice president of products.
"I came back to Tucson from Colorado and was introduced to the Neuro-ID team," says Dunmyre, a seasoned entrepreneur.
"I could live anywhere, but I chose to be here because what's going on here with Tech Launch Arizona is important: building businesses and commercializing technologies coming out of the UA is a worthwhile thing to do.
"From my experience working with TLA, I know that the foundation has been done right. The patents, the legal work, the vetting, I know it’s been done extremely well. There are a lot of companies out there that haven’t done that, and that’s where I think TLA has done exceptional work."
In addition to emphasizing the importance of laying solid, dependable groundwork with TLA, Dunmyre underscores the importance of the whole of Tucson's startup ecosystem, bolstered by the UA.
According to Dunmyre, Tucson offers connectivity to the UA faculty who invented the company's technology and can thus continue to contribute to future development. In addition, new UA graduates represent an excellent talent pool the company can draw upon as it grows. In fact, the first two full-time software engineers are UA graduates.
"We'll be hiring software engineers, front-end people, back-end people, data scientists, sales and marketing professionals, channel leaders and more," Dunmyre says. "These are not call-center jobs. These are all professional tech, engineering, research and marketing jobs — top-paying positions."
While Neuro-ID will not have a huge headcount, "the opportunities and the payroll will be big," Dunmyre says.
David Allen, vice president of TLA, sees in Neuro-ID all the right elements for success.
"Neuro-ID is a 'big swing' opportunity. It has a solid management team, demonstrated technology, substantial market opportunities and a vision to be a significant company that creates economic value and social benefit," Allen says. "As the security market has faced new challenges, Neuro-ID has been agile and aggressive in developing products to address these changes. We are fortunate that the company will anchor here in Tucson."