Alumni startup at bwtech@UMBC earns unique award for artificial intelligence work with UMBC research team

The artificial intelligence startup RedShredcofounded by two UMBC alumni and housed in the bwtech@UMBC incubatorhas received a rare Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Award from the National Science Foundation to expand in a new direction, in collaboration with UMBC faculty and graduate students.

Jeehye Yun ‘97, computer science, and Jim Kukla ‘97, M.S ‘00, computer science, launched RedShred in 2014, with the support of a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer Award from NSF. For the past four years, RedShred has created software to help universities and other institutions sort through complex government listings in search of opportunities (requests for proposals, or RFPs) that meet their needs and expertise. The new Phase II award will support RedShred as they make their products available to companies in the commercial sector.

“At RedShred our mission is to help people read less and win more,” says Yun. “We’re excited about this Phase II grant, which allows us to commercialize our Phase I research and development, and develop new mechanisms to help people understand increasingly complicated documents.”

UMBC faculty and students have collaborated with RedShred to advance the technologies behind their products. Tim Finin, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, and several graduate students have worked with RedShred to better understand how large documents, such as RFPs, tend to be structured, even when each one is formatted differently and doesn’t follow a template. They describe this process as identifying the document’s semantic DNA.

By defining and identifying the core elements of each RFP, UMBC student researchers have been able to create “at-a-glance” summaries of these highly complex documents that provide all the necessary information and save the client the time of wading through levels of detail.

“Our collaboration with RedShred has given UMBC students great opportunities to participate in both basic and applied research focused on developing an innovative commercial product,” explains Finin. “This has involved both undergraduate and graduate students majoring in computing as well as the arts and humanities. For example, computer science graduate student Muhammad Rahman Ph.D. ‘18, computer science, developed a problem he encountered when working with RedShed into his Ph.D. dissertation, which he completed his summer.”