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SRI International Celebrates 70th Anniversary of World-Changing Research & Development – and Looks to New Advances
MENLO PARK, Calif.—November 7, 2016—SRI International today celebrates its 70th anniversary and begins its next 70 years of high-impact research. SRI was founded by the trustees of Stanford University on November 6, 1946, with a charter to promote the application of science in the development of commerce, trade and industry. Delivering transformational new approaches to the world’s most pressing problems and turning ideas into reality for clients and partners has been central to SRI’s success since its earliest days.
As an independent research institute, SRI provides in-depth, unbiased insights, driven foremost by societal impact, not only by financial metrics. For seven decades, SRI has shaped the future by creating ground-breaking advances in artificial intelligence, network communications and security, robotics, treatments for diseases, and assessments of education policies. Innovations from SRI touch our lives every day – when we use the Internet, fly in an airplane, and communicate on mobile devices.
R&D from the Laboratory to the Marketplace
“Throughout SRI’s history, we see how our research in computing, biosciences, education, robotics, engineering, and many other areas have had beneficial impact globally,” said William Jeffrey, Ph.D., chief executive officer, SRI International. “While SRI’s 70th anniversary is both a significant milestone and a testament to SRI’s valuable role in the world, we are equally excited by the new, emerging challenges and helping to set the agenda for the next seven decades of R&D.”
With a successful track record of new venture creation and licensing its breakthrough technology, SRI has launched more than 60 ventures, with a total market capitalization exceeding $20 billion to date.
“Our Silicon Valley roots and time-tested innovation methodology have enabled SRI to nurture new technologies and applications that can help solve some of the most difficult challenges today, and we intend to do just that for the next 70 years, and beyond,” said Stephen Ciesinski, president, SRI International. “As one of the world’s premier research and development organizations, we play an essential role connecting scientific work from government agencies to innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley and throughout the world. At SRI, we apply the basic research we perform for government agencies into real-world opportunities. We are proud of our track record of creating world-changing innovations and look forward to achieving new heights.”
SRI leverages its research to create new solutions to address evolving market needs. Some notable examples include:
- Augmenting Human Capabilities: The first demonstration of the computer mouse and interactive computing in 1968 by Doug Engelbart and the SRI Augmentation Research Center team has been called "the Mother of All Demos." Engelbart’s vision to solve humanity's most important problems by using computers to augment human intellect and improve communication and collaboration was a catalyst for much of the work by the SRI Augmentation Research Center and became the foundation of personal computing and the Internet. Today, SRI researchers continue to make discoveries in computer science to improve communication, collaboration and human-computer interaction.
- From DARPA’s CALO to Siri to Virtual Specialists: Siri, the world’s first Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA), arose from decades of artificial intelligence (AI) research at SRI. The technology was developed through the SRI-led Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes (CALO) project, the largest-known AI project in U.S. history. Siri became an SRI spin-off company before being acquired by Apple. SRI is now working on the next generation of "virtual specialists," more conversational AI with deeper knowledge of topics and understanding of user. One of the first examples of a virtual specialist is SRI spin-off Kasisto Inc., which focuses on improving the consumer experience on mobile devices through intelligent conversation.
- Saving Lives Around the World: The malaria treatment Halofantrine was developed by SRI for the U.S. Army in the 1970’s and distributed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The SRI-developed treatment has saved millions of lives over the years.
- Cancer Drug Development: In 2009, the FDA approved pralatrexate, a treatment for peripheral T-cell lymphoma. Research on drugs of this class began at SRI in the 1950’s. A subsequent scientific collaboration among SRI, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Southern Research Institute led to clinical trials on related compounds conducted by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center starting in the 1980s.
- Robotics to Improve Quality of Life
SRI is enhancing physical capabilities with projects such as Superflex, a wearable, soft robotics exosuit that augments the musculoskeletal system to overcome or prevent damage from injury or disease. The technology is now being used in a collaborative project with Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and Solid Ventures to develop a soft, wearable assistive device for people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Originally developed for the DARPA-funded “Warrior Web” program to enhance soldier performance, reduce injury risk and increase the weight of equipment that soldiers could carry, the technology may one day provide performance and strength enhancement for elderly people, those with physical limitations and people who need to lift heavy objects. Superflex Inc. recently launched as an SRI spin-off company.
- Advancing Medical Robotics: SRI's novel approach to minimally invasive surgery led to the 1995 formation of spin-off Intuitive Surgical, Inc. The prototype for Intuitive’s surgical robot system was developed at SRI in the 1980’s as part of a U.S. Army contract. Today, SRI is pioneering new approaches to robotic surgery. A recent example is the license of transformational robotic technology from SRI to Verb Surgical, Inc. Verb is developing a new robotic surgery platform that will integrate technologies such as advanced imaging, data analysis, and machine learning to enable greater efficiency and improved outcomes across a wide range of surgical procedures.
- Improving Teaching and Learning for All: SRI Education has been actively engaged in democratizing access to learning since 1975, when the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed. SRI designed and conducted the pioneering National Longitudinal Transition Study to follow students with disabilities into adulthood, and policy makers have relied on this information to improve the U.S. Educational system.
- Monitoring our Planet, the Solar System, and Space Weather: Since the 1960’s, SRI has delivered novel radio frequency (RF) and optical sensors to gauge space weather impacts on the Earth. From the Pioneer 6 satellite to the current string of miniaturized satellites (CubeSat) research missions, SRI provides innovative space instruments to the Department of Defense, NASA and NSF. SRI researchers have also developed a low-power miniaturized radar for detecting changes in the Earth’s surface and used the world’s most powerful radars to detect near-Earth crossing asteroids. By leveraging lessons learned from over five decades of research, SRI recently launched spin-off company LeoLabs. Inc. to fill a market need for commercial satellite and space debris tracking.
The Next 70 Years
As SRI embarks on its next 70 years of world-changing innovation, the organization is focused on delivering purpose-driven, cross-functional and collaborative ideas that will help solve critical challenges and move solutions into real-world applications.
“At SRI, we are fortunate to have such a strong legacy and the opportunity to build upon previous research to create new capabilities,” added William Jeffrey. “Because of the deep level of expertise in diverse research areas and the collaborative spirit within the organization, I am confident that SRI researchers will continue to create positive impact in the future and solve problems that we have yet to imagine in our increasingly complex world.”
SRI’s Timeline of Innovation (www.sri.com/timeline) has an extensive list of SRI’s most important innovations, including the foundation of the Internet, instrumented combat training, radar technologies, robotic surgery and medical ultrasound.