If you’ve worked in an office in the last 10 years, you’ve probably experienced the sometimes-nightmare of creating and sharing digital content with co-workers or clients. Imagine taking that already complex task and expanding it to one of the largest research universities in the country—tens of thousands of students, faculty, researchers, and administrators sharing mountains of videos, slide decks, PDFs and other pieces of content on a patched network of systems.
Five years ago, the University of Washington’s Laurens Banker began to tackle this virtual knot. He and co-founder Paul Marcontell began a project in 2011 that would later become MediaAMP, a self-sustaining company within the UW IT department.
MediaAMP announced today that they are spinning off from the university to become an independent company. The startup is self-funded, with Banker serving as president and CEO and Marcontell serving as CTO.
It has been a long journey since the project’s inception five years ago.
“We were tasked with coming up with [a solution for] a huge gap in the university’s infrastructure,” Banker said. “How do we have an integrated digital media platform that allows media to be stored and shared, and allow end users to collaborate on the other end?”
Over the last four years, MediaAmp has developed a secure cloud program to fill that gap. Traditionally, each department within a university relies on their own servers to store digital media. “Really, MediaAMP is expanding that into the cloud era,” Banker said, making it easier to store and share media in larger organizations.
To allow smooth data sharing, MediaAMP integrates with dozens of closed platforms that are used in various places throughout the University of Washington, many of which are used by other large universities or private entities.
Say a professor wants to use laboratory slides from her colleague’s research in a class lecture. Instead of having to access the pictures on a department server and re-upload them to a different one, she can access the slides herself and publish them directly to a class Canvas or Blackboard site. The program can also integrate with variety platforms like YouTube, WordPress, and SharePoint.
Although MediaAMP has so far worked only with universities, including Arizona State and Central Washington University, Banker said he sees potential for this kind of program in many different institutions.
“What MediaAMP was really architected for is to support online learning wherever it exists,” he said. He added that he is interested in seeing the program used in government organizations, along with private legal, medical, or scientific research institutions.
For now, the new company has partnered with Comcast-owner thePlatform to expand into the higher education market.
“Interest in our service from other colleges and universities, all facing a common set of challenges managing digital content, has been phenomenal,” said Banker.