The MsET story

It could be considered the granddaddy of Mississippi's geospatial technology effort.

The Mississippi Enterprise for Technology Inc. at John C. Stennis Space Center is a nonprofit created in 1994 as a business incubator and technology transfer office. The joint effort of the Mississippi Development Authority, NASA and the state's universities was designed to spawn the development of high-wage, high-skill technology jobs.

MsET evolved into one of the first state groups to focus on leveraging the presence of federal geospatial activities, no small matter considering it's a key technology of the 21st century.

Geotechnology is the gathering, interpretation and distribution of geographic data gathered with satellites and aircraft to provide a picture of the world. It involves several disciplines and was once the purview of government. But now commercial companies are big players with products and services evolving rapidly.

The beginning

The state's interest in leveraging federal technologies at Stennis - then called the Mississippi Test Facility - began in 1964 with creation of the Mississippi Research and Development Center. State officials knew they had a jewel in the facility designed to test rockets for NASA.

In 1970 NASA located its Earth Resources Laboratory to MTF to find applications for data acquired from remote sensing equipment. At NASA's invitation, the departments of Commerce, Interior, Transportation, Army, Navy and EPA set up operations at the facility that would eventually be renamed Stennis Space Center.

In 1994 MsET was established to fulfill the role first envisioned 30 years earlier: leveraging the research, development, test and evaluation taking place at Stennis Space Center.

That it wound up involved so deeply in geospatial activities was simply because geospatial technologies had become key at SSC. Three years after MsET was established Congress passed legislation to commercialize geospatial technology. The same year Stennis was designated NASA's lead center for implementing commercial remote sensing.

In 1998 Mississippi formally began its effort to create a geospatial technology cluster with establishment of the Mississippi Space Commerce Initiative, which in 2003 became the Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions.

MsET today

MsET is headquartered in the 56,000-square-foot Mississippi Technology Transfer Center, designated the Center of Excellence in Geospatial Technologies. Building 1103 is also occupied by universities, non-profits and NAVO. MsET also has space in Building 1210 for a total of 25,000 square feet.

Its mission is to provide an environment where start-ups can turn technologies into products and services through serving as an incubator and technology transfer office.

As a technology transfer office, MsET is a clearinghouse where research at SSC, whether from federal or state labs, can be converted into products and services for the general public.

As a business incubator, MsET is a member of the National Business Incubator Association and provides an environment where start-ups stand a better chance at surviving through providing business and technology-related services, opportunities for joint ventures, entrepreneur training and access to state/federal technology portfolios.

MsET works with a statewide network of offices to offer technology forecasts, business plans, market research, sources of financing/marketing strategies, patent searches and vendor sources.

MsET does not limit itself to a particular type of technology, and the current list of tenants includes companies involved in everything from software development to computer security systems. Long-range plans call for exploring the growth of alternative technology areas.

But its emphasis on geospatial activities at SSC makes MsET one of the most unique organizations in the state and an engine for future growth.