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Funnelback and Me: Celebrating 30 Years of Funnelback Technology 1991-2021

CollectionsComputing at ANU
Title: Funnelback and Me: Celebrating 30 Years of Funnelback Technology 1991-2021
Author(s): Hawking, Professor David
In 1991, under the auspices of the ANU-Fujitsu CAP project, the author started a research project in Information Retrieval whose aim was to support fast and effective search over enormous collections of electronic documents. Later in the 1990s the project moved to the ANU-CSIRO Advanced Computational Systems (ACSys) Cooperative Research Centre and eventually worked to create a commercial product — a search engine for the websites and document repositories held by organisations, known as P@NOPTIC. The first P@NOPTIC installation provided search of hundreds of web sites at the ANU, and it delivered obvious benefits. From the associated research, the author gained a PhD by Published Work, and became a research scientist in CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences. After ACSys ended in 2000, CSIRO took on commercialisation, licensing P@NOPTIC to universities, companies and government agencies. After a slow start, the business grew too large to remain within CSIRO and Funnelback Pty Ltd was spun off. In 2009, Funnelback was acquired by another Australian company, Squiz Pty Ltd. At the time of writing (2021) Funnelback technologies were still being sold and supported by Squiz. P@NOPTIC/Funnelback earned tens of millions of dollars in revenue, created a peak of around 50 hi-tech jobs, and improved the quality of search in hundreds of organisations in Australia, the UK, the US, and Europe. The book attempts to describe in easily understandable form the quarter century of research behind Funnelback — questions addressed, discoveries made, breakthroughs achieved, and challenges faced. It also chronicles the commercialisation journey, with its many ups and downs, and discusses possible reasons why Funnelback never became as successful as Google. Academics contemplating the commercialisation of their research may be interested in the Funnelback journey and in the lessons learned.
Other Identifiers: ANUA 746-2


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