Halifax firm gets nearly $3 million in federal funding to develop software tool

HALIFAX – Modern aircraft and military ships have grown so complex that engineering design and verification hasn’t kept up — and the result is often costly errors in early prototypes, says the head of a Halifax-based firm that’s hoping to help solve the problem.

“Today upwards of 40 per cent of all project costs, some of which are well over $1 billion, is devoted to testing and fixing errors and this percentage is growing fast,” said Jordan Kyriakidis, president and CEO of design and engineering company QRA Corp.

“We need new tools that ensure these machines will do only what their creators intended and will do so in a safe, reliable and predictable way. We need to verify this before anything is actually built.”

Kyriakidis was speaking Tuesday after it was announced that his company was receiving $2.9 million in federal funding to develop software to assist engineers with early stage designs.

The money, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, is conditionally repayable and comes from a pool of $7.1 million for four projects under the federal government’s Atlantic Innovation Fund.

The QVtrace is a software tool that can be used in fields such as defence and aeronautics.

Kyriakidis said it’s engineered to “crawl over” computerized designs or blueprints using mathematical proofs that can ask questions.

“So we say this thing you said could never happen, well we show you that it actually can happen,” said Kyriakidis. “It’s particularly good at catching fringe but catastrophic cases.”

Treasury Board president Scott Brison, who took part in the funding announcement, said the technology could ultimately provide some applications for the government.

“I believe there is significant opportunities to apply some of this to big complex government procurement like defence procurement and avoid the problems that have plagued governments over time on some of these files,” said Brison.

Kyriakidis said he created the initial algorithms powering the software tool as part of a research project at Dalhousie University over five years ago and now works on its development full time through his company.

Kyriakidis said that while there are competitors, he’s confident his company’s approach in working directly with companies like Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is the right one.

“Working together with the customers is really important to us because then we actually solve the problem. We don’t just make a technology for the sake of making a technology.”

QRA, which currently has 17 employees, plans to create 13 new research and development positions through the project.