Auburn University canine detection goes commercial

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University, through the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation, ARTF, has entered into a license agreement with a new canine training and provider, iK9 Holding Co. LLC, for its VAPOR WAKE® technology. VAPOR WAKE training enhances explosive detection canine teams with additional abilities and training to detect hand-carried and/or body-worn explosives. iK9 will train and sell VAPOR WAKE dogs and train their handlers. The agreement between Auburn University and iK9 became effective Sept. 1.

Auburn University has one of the largest and most successful canine detection research programs in the United States and is internationally known for its patent-pending and trademarked VAPOR WAKE technology. Dogs with VAPOR WAKE capabilities are specially trained for interdiction strategies being deployed by multiple homeland security agencies. The primary site for iK9′s VAPOR WAKE training is the Canine Detection Training Center in Anniston, Ala., which is part of Auburn University’s Animal Health and Performance Program within the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine has invested years of research in developing this program into a strong and versatile detection tool in the fight against terrorism,” said Calvin Johnson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “VAPOR WAKE dogs are capable of saving lives. Auburn believes the best way to get dogs into both domestic and military markets is with a private sector company with dog training experience and marketing capabilities. iK9 has these capabilities and is on track to becoming an industry leader within the detector dog community.”

The Office of Technology Transfer, OTT, a unit under the Office of the Vice President for Research, along with the ARTF, were asked to assist with commercializing the VAPOR WAKE technology. Led by Doug Warrington, director of business development, the process took more than a year to find the right partner and to develop a successful business strategy.

“This has been a team effort involving persons in the College of Veterinary Medicine, OTT and the ARTF,” Warrington said.

iK9 personnel have been working with Auburn University dog trainers at the Canine Detection Center since January 2013. The agreement also licenses the Anniston facility to iK9 for their use in training detection dogs.

“We are exceedingly impressed with the outstanding dog training capabilities of Auburn University, iK9′s training facilities and the abilities of VAPOR WAKE dogs to detect the scent of explosives on persons moving in crowds such as in airports, sporting events and other venues where people gather and may be targets for terrorist activity,” said Greg Turnbull, vice president and chief financial officer of iK9 Holding Co. LLC.

“The research effort that includes a reinvigorated breeding program will be centered on the main campus in Auburn,” said James Floyd, interim director of the Animal Health and Performance Program. “Auburn will continue conducting research to understand the process of olfaction and to advance detection technologies with dogs.”

ARTF is a university-affiliated, nonprofit corporation formed to support the mission of Auburn University, particularly in research and economic development.

“Part of its mission is to work with industry in facilitating the commercialization of Auburn University technologies,” said Executive Director John Weete. “Not only will this partnership accelerate the production of detection dogs to meet market needs but it will give an economic boost through the creation of new jobs and revenue generation.”

To further VAPOR WAKE’s commercialization, iK9 plans to set up a corporate office in the Auburn Research Park.

Contact: John Weete, Auburn University Research and Technology Foundation, (334) 844-7480 (weetejd@auburn.edu), or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)