Mission accomplished

Mission accomplished

Four years ago, we introduced NASA Tech Briefs readers to Nerac, a Connecticut-based information company that had gone from a NASA trial-run experiment in 1966 to a successful private business. Today, Nerac is a multi-million-dollar corporation with more than 200 employees. How the company reached this level of success is truly a “mission accomplished.”

When the U.S. government created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958, one of its mandates was to provide private businesses with access to NASA’s research. To meet those requirements, NASA formed Regional Dissemination Centers (RDCs), located in various regions of the country. As one of ten such centers, the New England Research Application Center (NERAC) was created in 1966 as an “experiment” between the University of Connecticut and NASA. By working together, the university would act as the interface to translate business needs to NASA.

Under the tutelage of Dr. Daniel Wilde, who eventually stayed on for 27 years as Nerac’s director, Nerac grew from a three-person staff in the basement of UConn’s Business School, acquiring databases outside the realm of NASA, and attracting clients from other industries and from beyond the confines of New England. By 1985, a university host was no longer needed, so Nerac officially severed its ties with UConn.

Two years later, while still operating as a non-profit, NASA-supported organization, Nerac moved to a 10,000-squarefoot headquarters in Tolland, CT, which would house the growing computer operations and the growing staff. That year, Nerac also obtained the capability to search abstracts and full-text documents.

In 1989, the company realized that its services had moved beyond its relationship with NASA, and its size required an additional 5,000 square feet of office space. Nerac separated from NASA in 1989, but remains the only one of the ten original information centers to become a private firm.

The Business of Information

From its beginnings, Nerac has served as an information company, working with customers to locate information on request, and alert customers to industry and patent developments as they occur. The company’s search experts have science and engineering backgrounds, enabling them to provide customized information in the fields of business, science, engineering, and intellectual property.

“Nerac clients choose to work oneon-one with any of our nearly 100 Information Specialists,” said Kevin Bouley, president of Nerac. “We know that there is a tangible synergistic benefit for the client when working directly with a scientist or engineer who understands their industry.”

Science and engineering companies focusing on research and development make up a large portion of Nerac’s client base. In many cases, researchers at these companies simply can’t spare the time or resources to find the information they need. Instead, they use Nerac to find the most recent news in their industry, or to locate patent information when developing new products. Much of the hard-tofind information is from resources typically not available for free through Web sites. Full-image patents, published literature, full-text journal articles, manuscripts, and conference papers are among the types of information Nerac can provide.

In 1999, Nerac expanded service capabilities and clientele by conducting business through Nerac.com. The Web has enabled Nerac to cut turnaround time from an average of one to two weeks to less than two days, and has eliminated the need for clients to weed through mounds of paper for information.

“We have the best of both worlds – a solid, 37-year foundation in information and search technology powered by real people” said Bouley

As subscribers to Nerac, clients have unlimited access to information contained in several hundred thousand publications worldwide, as well as these services:

* Retro Search – A worldwide search of resources for published information that matches a client’s needs.

* Tech Track – Through automatic Tech Track e-mails, clients learn of developments when information is released. The latest published literature on a particular topic, industry, or patent is provided.

* Patent Ordering – Clients can log on to Nerac.com and download full-image PDF patents.

* TOC – The tables of contents from more than 21,000 journals are available upon request.

* Reference Plus – This service helps clients locate information outside the realm of Nerac databases, including obscure information.

Continuing Growth

In the five years between 1997 and 2001, Nerac enjoyed revenue growth of more than 53%, which resulted in the company being named to Deloitte & Touches “Technology Fast 50” program for Connecticut. In response to being named one of the state’s fastest-growing technology companies, Bouley said, “With a 36-year history and steady revenue growth, Nerac’s success is the result of the technology industry’s essential need for reliable information. We are fortunate to achieve our success by helping foster the research and development of over 5,000 companies.”

For more information on Nerac and its services, contact the company at One Technology Drive, Tolland, CT 06084; Tel: 860-8727000; Fax: 860-871-6933; e-mail: info@ nerac.com; www.nerac.com.

Copyright Associated Business Publications Mar 2003

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