By Tanya Reinhardt MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – The technology capabilities of a small Bozeman company have been compared to Superman’s X-ray vision. Montana State University is also impressed with the millions of dollars the company has invested in research.

The S2 Corporation has provided $5 million to MSU research efforts, making it the school’s largest sponsor in the private sector, according to Rebecca Mahurin, director of MSU’s Technology Transfer Office.

“It is about three times the amount of research dollars other companies have provided to MSU,” Mahurin said, adding that the money has been invested over a period of several years.

According to S2, which takes its name from its core spatial-spectral holography technology, the company is the only one in the world focused on providing extreme-wideband sensing and signal processing solutions for multiple customers. S2’s largest customer is the U.S. Department of Defense.

“The DOD has invested more than $30 million to propel the S2 technology forward,” said Kris Merkel, S2 Corporation’s president and CEO. Merkel said the investments have driven the S2 technology to capabilities that far exceed comparative systems.

S2 maintains a strong relationship with MSU for several reasons, Merkel said, including what he refers to as “the intellectual capital of MSU’s Spectrum Lab and the MSU physics department – smart people with know-how and innovation.”

S2 launched in 2005, and eight of its 10 employees are alumni of MSU or former MSU employees.

The company currently has rights to 17 U.S. patents, with 13 of these being licensed from MSU. S2 projects that in the next two to three years, it will subcontract an additional $1 million to MSU Spectrum Lab for research and development efforts, out of its approximately $6 million in current and pending efforts on several highly competitive contract awards.