Published on
Oct 22, 2021

Dayton, Ohio - DAtAnchor won a $50,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award in 2019 for their encryption, automated data governance and access control technology that simplifies the Department of the Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) compliance process for small organizations. The award-winning data-security technology was developed through a Research and Development project at The Ohio State University in 2019. Academic Partnership Engagement (APEX) program assisted DAtAnchor in navigating the process of applying for and winning the SBIR award.

DAtAnchor specializes in data security solutions such as seamless, strong encryption; automated data governance; and dynamic access control. The solutions make compliance easily accessible for small organizations that otherwise might not be able to compete due to the complexity and expense involved in becoming cyber-security compliant for the DoD.

Dr. Emre Koksal, founder and CEO of DAtAnchor, said, “Businesses and organizations face significant threats to their data from both internal and external entities. Damage can range from breakdown within businesses to serious threats to national security. To combat this, government entities frequently enact new compliance requirements. These are often extremely complicated, very expensive, and compliance is sometimes difficult, if not impossible, for small organizations. At DAtAnchor, our mission is to make data security and compliance simple and accessible to all small organizations.”

DAtAnchor technology encrypts data before it is saved to the computer or to the cloud and ensures that files can only be opened by the intended person in the intended place. Rather than relying on traditional walls around networks, DAtAnchor builds the security right into individual files providing independence from network and cloud security.

One of DAtAnchor’s fastest growing business verticals is the DoD’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which is becoming a requirement for businesses looking to win contracts with the DoD.

“Any organization needs to be externally and independently assessed by certified assessors from the DoD,” said Koksal “It's a critical step and an expensive affair. DAtAnchor provides security architecture to make it simple for smaller businesses, like manufacturing shops, small construction architecture firms, and companies with a few hundred employees, so that they can successfully complete assessments for CMMC.

Due to the technology’s broad application, Koksal decided to expand and commercialize the technology himself, rather than license it to another organization.

“Unlike many technologies that come out of academia, which tend to be niche, this technology was very broad, and the market size was quite large. The vast applicability of this technology was the motivation for me to build it on my own,” Koksal said.

DAtAnchor now has numerous contracts with companies in the healthcare, energy and technology industries and works with DoD contractors to help them meet their data security compliance requirements.

In 2019, Koksal started working on AFWERX SBIR funding opportunities, and the process was a little overwhelming to start. Then, one of his investors, Valley Growth Ventures, the APEX program and connected. Koksal with APEX STTR Program Director Dave Nestic who manages APEX’s process navigation services that are free of charge to academic and industry researchers seeking Air Force funding for their innovations.

“As an academic, I’ve worked on a lot of projects and proposals for the DoD, but as a business, it's a very different process, and I didn't have the experience for that process,” said. Koksal. “When I met Dave, he connected us to people within the DoD, who drove our efforts within the Air Force and resulted in the exposure and interest we needed to find a DoD customer. With Dave’s guidance and mentorship, DAtAnchor won a Phase I proposal in round 19.3 worth $50,000.”

With APEX’s help and network comprised of U.S. Air Force subject matter experts, DAtAnchor was able to identify a customer in the health sector and F35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

“They identified our technology as an immediate need within their multi-billion-dollar program,” said Koksal, “We received support letters from other significant programs, and some of the industry partnerships we built, as part of our APEX-guided effort, are ongoing. In fact, we are working on a separate Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) project with one of the companies we connected with through the APEX network, and we hope to move to the second phase of that project together, soon.”

In addition to the Phase I SBIR award, DAtAnchor is partnering with Battle Sight Technologies in a Phase I STTR project and hopes to move to Phase II this summer. DAtAnchor currently has contracts and partnerships with numerous organizations from several industries and continues to pursue the commercial market.


About Academic Partnership Engagement Experiment (APEX)

APEX builds partnerships between industry and academia to advance Air Force technology innovation and development. APEX is established via a Department of the Air Force Partnership Intermediary.

About DAtAnchor

DAtAnchor empowers organizations to realize the benefits of their information easily and affordably by confidently using and sharing it as needed to do business without fear of it being lost, stolen, or abused.