Euvision Technologies BV – a spin-off company of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) – has been taken over by Qualcomm, an international market leader in next-generation mobile chips. A specialist in search engine production, Euvision was established five years ago to market scientific ideas developed at the Informatics Institute.
According to UvA Executive Board Vice-President Hans Amman, who is in charge of knowledge valorisation, 'the UvA is working hard to build up Amsterdam's position as a knowledge region by making scientific knowledge available, as much as possible, to society and the economic sector and by encouraging the creation of spin-off companies. With the acquisition of Euvision by Qualcomm, an international player, that knowledge will be disseminated even more widely.'. Qualcomm has a market value in excess of 100 billion dollars and operates in more than 170 locations in over 40 countries.
Euvision is a supplier of software that can analyse image content in digital photos and videos and identify not only whether a picture shows a windmill, a man or a child, for instance, but also the make of a car or the brand of dinnerware. This technology offers a solution for anyone processing large volumes of digital images or recording lots of images by camera – whether business people, researchers, the police or mobile phone users who want to manage their photo collections. The software not only sorts images, but can also make decisions.
The applications developed by Euvision stem from work done in a research group at the UvA's Informatics Institute (IvI) led by Computer Vision Professor Arnold Smeulders and Associate Professor Cees Snoek. 'Ten years ago, the American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched a worldwide competition to see who could design the best and smartest image search engine', explains Smeulders. 'With our research solutions, right from the start we were in the top three of the international competition. More and more universities began to join, including Oxford and Carnegie Mellon University, alongside the research departments of large companies like IBM and Microsoft. But even then we managed to hold onto our leading position, and our automatic image recognition software kept getting better every year. Harro Stokman, who was doing his PhD at the IvI and had experience in business, set up a high-tech company based around this software together with Jan-Willem Klerkx, who became its commercial director.' UvA Holding BV has had a participating interest in Euvision since the first year.
From the outset, Euvision catered mainly for an international market which made the software accessible outside the world of science. Smeulders: 'Our spin-off follows in the footsteps of universities such as Stanford and Oxford, who have been going down this road for years. And that was also a crucial factor in Euvision's success, as this acquisition by Qualcomm demonstrates.'
Negotiations with Qualcomm on behalf of the UvA were conducted by the Technology Transfer Office (TTO). TTO also played a key role in setting up Euvision.
The Technology Transfer Office of the UvA, AUAS/HvA and AMC advises on applying for grants, assists in business development trajectories and provides legal and patent advice.