By Mike Ensley, Special to Innovation Coast
Lloyd Reshard retired after 26 years with the Air Force Research Laboratory, where he spent his last six years as the chief of the Munitions Aerodynamics Sciences Branch at Eglin Air Force Base.
In May 2014, he co-founded Cognitive Big Data Systems, where he now serves as CEO. The company is working on building vision systems for robotics and video surveillance using preset data and sensor-based neural memories. Cognitive Big Data Systems was selected as one of the inaugural members of Venture Hive, a Miami-based business accelerator for veterans and dependents that expanded to Fort Walton Beach last year.
Q: What was your experience in Venture Hive like and what did you learn from the experience?
Reshard: Participating in Venture Hive accelerator was the most insightful experience of my lifetime. I feel very fortunate to have been able to participate in the inaugural class. I would like to point out that it was through my involvement with Innovation Coast that led to me being recommended to the Venture Hive accelerator.
The accelerator was 12 weeks of on-site hands on training, mentorship and interactive lectures from some of the world’s leading entrepreneur experts. I learned how to build business models for highly scalable businesses through innovation, which would support local economic development by creating more technical, business, financial and marketing jobs.
Q: Where does Cognitive Big Data Systems stand now, as opposed to when you entered the program?
Reshard: We refined our business model, matured our video analytics solution, expanded our resource network and learned how to scale out our solution to a lot of users. As a result of participating in Venture Hive, we were picked to participate in PowerMoves, which sponsored a six-week boot camp for high growth startups that culminated with three days of on-site training and a pitch competition at the Fontainebleau Resort on Miami Beach. Our resource network and knowledge was greatly expanded by participating.
Q: What do you think the partnership of Venture Hive and Innovation Coast will mean for local startups?
Reshard: Venture Hive is a very successful entrepreneur training company which has a proven process for training the founders of new startups. Currently, it would be beneficial for startups to attend the community lectures at Venture Hive in Fort Walton Beach.
Ultimately, if the partnership leads to accelerators here in Pensacola, that would have a very positive impact. Innovation Coast and Venture Hive can help startups to understand how to focus their enthusiasm and energy within proven methods that lead to success.
Q: What is your business advice for veterans looking to get started in their own business?
Reshard: There is no shortage of startup resources to help veterans get started in their own business. I recommend to get started with the local SBDC and check out both the Patriot Boot Camps and Venture Hive Accelerator Programs. I also find that very few startups are aware of the free startup programs provided by Facebook, Google, AWS and Microsoft (Bizspark), etc.
Q: What was the conference you recently attended and how did you get invited to be a part?
Reshard: Innovation Coast recommended and supported my attendance at the Enterprise High Performance Computing conference that was held in San Diego, California, March 20-22, 2016.
Q: What did you learn that you believe could translate to improving business in our area?
Reshard: The use of (high-performance computing) has traditionally been led by academia and government, and now it is becoming mainstream for enterprise users. I learned that companies like Gulfstream, John Deere and General Electric are using HPC to develop and maintain a competitive advantage, even to the point that some even consider their HPC resources their most valuable IP.
Local companies are generating lots of data, and traditional HPC is one way to process that data for business intelligence. Back about 10 years ago when I worked for the Air Force Research Lab, we helped get the Center For High Performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC.ORG) started, which investigates and benchmarks reconfigurable computing architectures for HPC. Local companies can join CHREC like other enterprise companies to get a competitive advantage as well.
On April 5, 2016, it was announced the Lawrence Livermore Lab who also attended the EnterpriseHPC ’16 conference bought an IBM Artificial Intelligence Supercomputer that will process the equivalent of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses, IBM said. This supercomputer provides yet another approach for processing data. The ability to easily build large artificial neural networks with millions of neurons is what has been holding this approach back from becoming mainstream.
By the way, Lawrence Livermore Lab also runs the HPC Innovation Center, which is available for our local companies to use. The approach of using artificial intelligence to process data is the reason why I started Cognitive Big Data Systems. My co-founder Dr. Stephen Thaler invented technologies which were matured and demonstrated by AFRL and NASA that automatically build large artificial neural networks with millions of neurons with billions of connections that run on a Windows PC versus IBM Supercomputer versus cloud-based machine learning.
I have been trying to communicate to our local companies that this technology is available for licensing and it can be uniquely applied to business data to improve their competitive advantage and to drive new innovations for more revenue streams.
Our Innovation Coast community is in a unique position for leveraging AI to drive innovation, which leads to more economic development. I spent most of my career developing technology, and I feel that using technical innovations is the new mainstream approach for economic development.