MsET Company Uses Stennis Connection To Make International Impact

MsET Company Uses Stennis Connection To Make International Impact

It’s a long way between the country of Nepal and South Mississippi. But Bishwa Acharya, the owner of Earth Mapping International, Inc. (EMI), made the journey 21 years ago. EMI, a product-developing and consulting company, is the newest business incubator tenant for the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MsET).  Bishwa hopes his association with MsET and Stennis Space Center will open international markets for his company, and he hopes his homeland will benefit from his work in the United States.

Bishwa started EMI in 1996 after working in the U.S. for 11 years.  In the same way that Bishwa knew he could make it as an entrepreneur, he knew that he wanted his work to eventually help his homeland and other developing countries.  Nepal is a small country located between China and India, with half of the world’s population sitting at each border.  The country is a fledgling democracy that is perfectly designed to produce hydroelectric power with no environmental degradation.   Its perennial water resources and mountainous land features make hydroelectric power very economical to produce.  However, the country suffers from political instability, poverty, corruption, and lack of vision. “A democracy doesn’t survive unless it has a good economic system,” Bishwa said.  “I want to help.”

Bishwa always had his country’s well-being at heart.  He received his Masters Degree in 1979 from the Roorkee University (Indian Institute of Technology) in Roorkee, India’s equivalent of the United States’ MIT in Boston.  He went back to Nepal working for the Survey Department/Government of Nepal and designed a First Order Geodetic Network for the country.  The project was eventually taken over by the Military Survey of Britain.  So, Bishwa ventured out on his own for the first time and started a private consulting company that provided feasibility studies and designs of rural water supplies, irrigation systems, transmission line surveys, and highway design work.

The working environment in Nepal frustrated him.  He accepted a United Nations job in Yemen, where he designed a First Order Geodetic Network for this country.  A public execution scene in a small town called Ibb, which he still vividly remembers, changed his perception about humanity.  Bishwa decided to leave the Far East for the U.S.

He completed his Ph.D. in Geodesy from the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University.  Bishwa longed for Nepal.  However, his family wanted to stay in the U.S.

Bishwa took a position as a professor of Civil Engineering at the Southern Polytechnic State University, but he was not content with only teaching.  He soon took a research faculty position at the University of Georgia, where he had several research and GIS projects with the Georgia Department of Transportation/ Federal Highway Administration, counties, and international agencies. But the job had its limitations, and the daily commute between Lawrenceville and Athens took its toll.  Bishwa decided to capitalize on his experience as a small-business owner and on his international connections.  He started EMI.

The company attracted several small contracts, but not to the caliber that Bishwa had expected.  He began to call on his business contacts.  One such man was a former graduate student from the University of Georgia, who is a native of Ghana.  This contact asked Bishwa to develop a proposal that was instrumental in Ghana receiving $547 million in funding from the Millennium Challenge Account, a U.S. program created by President Bush in 2002 that provides economic assistance to developing countries that have sound economic and human rights practices.  This award encouraged Bishwa to seek sources for tapping into this account for Nepal.  EMI, along with Georgia Tech and Harvard University, are currently writing a joint proposal to help Nepal receive similar funding.

“I want to help get this funding to hopefully attract international investors to the country.  I want the United States to be involved,” he said.  “If Nepal has an open economy, it gives us access to China and India that we have not had in the past.”

While Bishwa may have found an avenue to help his country, he was still looking for ways to open up the international market for himself.  After creating EMI, he began to submit proposal after proposal to federal agencies.  Finally in 2005, NASA funded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to do Geoid modeling, which works in-tandem with GPS to improve accuracy in elevations. The SBIR connected him with NASA, and a Dual-Use Research Project under consideration brought him to Stennis Space Center.  The company had already been working with Louisiana State University on several research proposals, such as emergency management and nutria management projects.  Also, Stennis’ focus on geospatial technologies was a perfect fit for his company.  Bishwa, being a geodesist, wants to contribute to NASA’s extraterrestrial mapping efforts, such as with the Lunar and Mars missions. Upon visiting Stennis, Bishwa decided that the MsET business incubator was a prime location for an EMI office.

It’s been 10 years since EMI began.  Bishwa said the company is finally beginning to come into its own.  He hopes his Stennis Phase I SBIR will be funded as a Phase II by the end of July.  If this happens, Bishwa believes the international market doors will be opened.

“Earth Mapping International is not only a business success, but also represents a great human interest story as well,” said Charlie Beasley, MsET vice president. “I credit the SBIR program for bringing Bishwa to Stennis Space Center.  He will be able to take his vision and grow his business here.”

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