Strategic Innovation

Identifying, incubating, and transforming new opportunities leveraging creative partnerships to achieve impact against VT’s research frontiers and beyond.

Matt Wolfe Ph.D.

Vice President of Technology

Areas of Focus

Emerging Capabilities

VT-ARC is making investments in technology and our people to ensure we’re fully exploiting new technologies and adapting them to the needs of our public and private sector partners. We are promoting a culture of intrapreneurship and smart risk taking by funding independent research and development (IRAD) initiatives and supporting the design and buildout of labs and facilities with advanced capabilities that will broaden the reach and impact of our work.

New Markets

Our corporation is keen on expanding the use of technology in environments beyond that for which it was initially developed. For example, advanced sensor and communications systems originally developed for national security purposes can also have tremendous positive impact by addressing the needs of civilian government agencies and the commercial sector. By leveraging investments made by one sponsor, we can more quickly and less expensively develop solutions for others.

Unconventional Partnerships

At VT-ARC we want to redefine what it is to be a contractor. Not hindered by obligations to shareholders, VT-ARC can build partnerships that make sense, not profits. We’re creating dynamic and diverse partnerships with government, industry, and academia resulting in “best of breed” teams delivering creative and impactful solutions.

Program Highlights

Independent R&D
Abstract photo of data being filtered into three categories

VT-ARC launched its independent research and development (IRAD) program in pursuit of bold research initiatives that will help shape our business capture, investment decisions, and future strategic priorities. While each funded project has a unique research goal and benefit to the corporation, projects generally seek to demonstrate feasibility of a technology, methodology, or function; discover a market’s size, dynamics, and competitive landscape; provide additional research opportunity and capability development to staff; establish IP to be leveraged in pursuit of large externally-funded opportunities and/or leverage IP of others through licensing or partnerships to develop new technologies and capabilities for future sponsors.

Disinformation Narrative Analysis
Photo of a news headlinde on a smartphone

VT-ARC recently invested funds in a project investigating the ways in which different media organizations describe critical news events during the news cycle. Research has shown that foreign states that are opposed to Western Democratic ideals often leverage the vulnerabilities of open societies, such as a free press and individual thought to promote sophisticated narratives that are designed to influence thinking about issues in the news. Our team explored how topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and NLP techniques may be used in a technically and contextually integrated approach to more reliably identify the linkages between topics and foreign influence campaigns. The team developed a pipeline using pre-trained language models and deep learning interpretation techniques to build a prediction system that can distinguish foreign narratives from domestic narratives at-scale. This work is a first step toward developing a dashboard that would provide insights into how counternarratives make their way into mainstream public discourse.

Diagram showing the propagation of disinformation
Enhanced Topic Modeling
Photo of Topic modeling

VT-ARC’s Enhanced Topic Modeling project focused on curating and refining a general‐purpose topic modeling tool and making it readily accessible to analysts via a simple user interface. To create this tool, we leveraged our previous developments and augmented them with the latest machine learning and Natural Language Processing technologies. Topic modeling outputs were enhanced by incorporating text summarization and text classification and creating informative visualizations of model outputs. The tool accepts generic csv files from any source, allowing users to select desired fields and create reports comprised of source data, graphs, and other useful visualizations to inform users’ research.

Image of multiple charts
Precision Produce
Photo of a field growing crops in front of a sunrise

In pursuit of advancing global welfare, VT-ARC built a team comprised of academics, small and large businesses, and state government officials to address the growing problem of food security in the United States. Through the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator Program, our team “Precision Produce” is developing safe and secure precision agriculture solutions for family-owned farms in Virginia and workforce development programs to accelerate the adoption of new agricultural technologies. Our approach is to build a strong foundation of technology and regional use and scale the Precision Produce program to the national level. Current members of the team include Virginia Tech, North Carolina A&T State University, Virginia Western Community College, Aerial Vantage, Dell Technologies, the Virginia Employment Commission, and the Office of the Governor of Virginia.