by Kristin Bingham on Wed, November 23, 2011
WebLib, a start-up company which won a Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, managed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), has just won a celebrated Challenge.gov contest using technology developed for DOE.
To start from the beginning, a DOE Small Business Innovation Research project funded a Phase II application for WebLib to develop a novel search technology called semantic search. Semantic search uses semantic knowledge of concepts and their relationships to produce relevant results, even when those results do not contain the user’s original query terms. The project was managed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) which seeks to accelerate science by accelerating the spread of knowledge. The goal of the project was to speed up literature searches by dramatically increasing the precision and completeness of searches of scientific and technical databases where the great bulk of the results of government R&D reside. To enable the development of semantic search, DOE OSTI provided WebLib with the DOE Green Energy Database to use as a test platform.
WebLib made remarkable progress advancing the state of the art in search technology. After just the first year of a two year grant, WebLib delivered its first cut at advanced semantic search technology.
The semantic search technology developed by WebLib was tested by OSTI which found that it was a significant advance over previous search technologies. Subsequently, DOE deployed WebLib’s semantic search into the production version of the DOE Green Energy Database. WebLib’s semantic search technology is so powerful and affordable that OSTI hopes to deploy it on eight more databases.
With its successful technology at hand, WebLib drove on and entered the challenge contest organized by the National Library of Medicine called "Show off Your Apps: Innovative Uses of NLM Information.” Specifically, WebLib applied its semantic search and knowledge technology to make better use of NLM‘s vast collection of biomedical data and services for the benefit of the Library’s diverse worldwide user communities. NLMplus provides a new level of search access to the National Library of Medicine’s rich and high quality content via a simple and an intuitive user interface. WebLib’s product called NLMplus was chosen as a contest winner.
On November 2, 2011 there was an NLM Show Off Your Apps Awards Ceremony at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, where NLMplus was honored and introduced by Anish Chopra, White House Chief Technical Officer, and Todd Park, Department of Health and Human Services Chief Technical Officer.
Even though the DOE SBIR/STTR Program chose to terminate the WebLib project when it was only half completed, WebLib made remarkable progress. That such progress was deemed worthy of recognition by the National Library of Medicine, an organization world famous for cutting edge web technology, is especially noteworthy. And it re-affirms OSTI’s wise selection and careful management of its SBIR topics.