Bloomington-based start-up wins Crane IP Defense Innovation Pitch Competition

From Radius Indiana:

A Bloomington-based start-up, Semiring Inc., won first place in the second-annual Crane IP Defense Innovation Pitch Competition on Wednesday, June 23rd.

Radius Indiana sponsored the virtual competition in coordination with Elevate Ventures, Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division (NSWC Crane), Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3), the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC), and The Mill. Judges included southwestern Indiana defense and economic development industry leaders who had previous experience with pitch competitions and knowledge of NSWC Crane.

The top three contestants shared cash prizes totaling $7,000.

  1. Semiring Inc: ($4,000 prize): Semiring pitched the use of Crane technology for data pre-processing with natural language processing, an existing project into which they incorporated Crane technology. The team consisted of six team members and was headed by Dr. Damir Cavar, a co-founder of Semiring Inc. and associate professor of Computational Linguistics at Indiana University.
  2. Vieaura ($2,000 prize): Vieaura, ran by co-owners Shrikant Yarlagadda and Srini Morampudi and team members Karey Koscevic and Dr. Mohan Tatikonda, focused on Crane technology involving virtual 3D model generation and navigation using opportunistically captured images.
  3. Exocetus Autonomous Systems ($1,000 prize): Exocetus Autonomous Systems, led by Paul Lwin and Joe Turner, directed its pitch on Crane technology to develop a networked buoy underwater communications system.

“After months of uncertainty during the pandemic, fears that we are facing dark and troubled times, this pitch competition was an extremely positive and motivating event and experience,” said Cavar. “The IP coming from Crane and its researchers is amazing, and it was refreshing to see so many people using this unique opportunity to look for ways to make the technologies available to our local and regional communities, as well as the entire nation and world. Such opportunities are essential for so many, and we hope that we can give back to Crane and the Department of Defense in general, as well as to our compatriots.”

Radius Indiana created the royalty-free IP pitch competition as an opportunity for interested businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs to take advantage of NSWC Crane’s Rapid Response Licensing Program, which launched last spring in response to COVID-19. The competition offered royalty-free access for those who seek to commercialize patented technologies and concepts developed at NSWC Crane.

“The participants put together an impressive display of product ideas, and it was amazing to hear ideas and directions to take these patents that haven’t been considered before,” said Annie Bullock-Yoder, NSWC Crane Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Specialist. “We hope that this competition will spark further innovation and support economic growth using Crane’s IP, and we are looking forward to continuing building relationships with all participants from the competition.”

This event was the fourth pitch competition hosted by Radius since 2019. These competitions have included pitch opportunities for high school students, adults, startups, and established businesses or products and ideas.

“Technology coming out of Crane clearly has commercial applicability, and Radius is honored to serve as a conduit to strengthen the region’s defense ecosystem through this competition,” said Keeley Stingel, vice president of Innovation and Economic Development at Radius. “The diversity of businesses that participated, from companies yet to form to ones that have been established for 50 years, was a testament to the innovation housed here in the Radius region through NSWC Crane.”

Radius plans to host additional pitch competitions in 2021. More information will be announced in the coming months.

“This pitch competition was an example of an economic development project that creates success stories in multiple ways,” said Radius CEO and President Jeff Quyle. “We are very pleased with all the ways our partners and participants have benefited from the event.”

To view NSWC Crane’s entire IP portfolio, please visit

Featured photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels