Prof. Engin Kirda: EAI Distinguished lecture on Transitioning academic research into industry

In his Distinguished lecture, professor Engin Kirda talks about his past research and the process that lead him to the successful co-foundation of his startup, Lastline.

According to Prof. Kirda, he’s “an academic who turned entrepreneur, maybe because of luck”. Building safety, security systems, and malicious code analysis were the main research topics of professor Engin Kirda during his career as an academic researcher (Technical University of Vienna – Austria, Institute Eurocam – France, Northeastern University – USA).

In this presentation, you will find out about his background and domain of research, how the research led to opportunity, and then to successful realization. From collecting samples for research purposes, through analysis and development, to noticing the business opportunity, and finally making it happen.

Creating a company: a new challenge after academic research

As part of their research activities, professor Engin Kirda and his collaborators (Giovanni Vigna and Christopher Kruegel) had a similar vision on how to study the market and later seize the business opportunity. From 2009 to 2020, Lastline grew as a company. The startup became a Silicon Valley company, with above 140 employees and raising $52 million VC investments.

Challenges on the way of researchers

In the second part of his lecture, professor Kirda describes different issues he and his co-founders had to face before launching their company. The common question was how to find a budget. Creating a start-up requires investments, investments involve funds.

Also, there is an existing demand in the security system market. But how to financially reward their collaborators? How to raise funds? Scientists are also often puzzled about how to be seen as an entrepreneur after pursuing a career in research.

As for every experience in life, there is a lesson to learn. The 10 most important lessons will therefore be explained in the last part of Professor Kirda’s lecture.

Engin Kirda holds the posts of professor of Computer Science at Northeastern University in Boston. Before that, he held faculty positions at Institute Eurecom in the French Riviera and the Technical University of Vienna, where he co-founded the Secure Systems Lab that is now distributed over five institutions in Europe and the U.S. Prof. Kirda’s recent research has focused on malware analysis (e.g., Anubis, Exposure, and Fire) and detection, web application security, and network security.

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