Software developed by KSU lays foundation for new tech start-up

A Kansas State University software development team that created the software used nationwide PEARS software is now starting his own business.

The team opened Canopy, a public utility, limited liability company that will serve clients with community-driven programs.

“Our vision is to help social impact programs by providing the technical tools and evaluation resources necessary to maximize their success,” said Aaron Schroeder, president of Canopy and a member of the K-State team that developed PEARS – Assessment and Evaluation Program. Reporting System – software that the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service now uses as the SNAP-Ed national reporting system, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Nutrition Education, reporting system.

PEARS is an online data management software that helps nutrition education professionals and extension administrators manage program data and demonstrate its impact. The system was originally developed through a collaboration between the Office for Educational Innovation and Evaluation, or OEIE, in the College of Education and Finding and extending the K state in 2015 to help Kansas manage its SNAP-Ed program.

“We were able to develop and develop the software package within OEIE to the point that there was enough outside interest to license and commercialize the project,” said Debbie Mercer, Dean of the College of Education. “It was a unique opportunity to collaborate with K-State innovation partners to commercially deploy a software package in a way we’ve never done before.

Over a five-year period, the PEARS system was adopted by SNAP-Ed programs in 37 states and eight statewide extension programs. PEARS was selected as SNAP-Ed national reporting system in 2021. As a stand-alone entity, Canopy will be able to support existing PEARS users, continue to grow and deploy PEARS software in new markets and develop new innovative technologies.

“We are proud of the role we played in getting PEARS up and running,” said Ernie Minton, Dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension. “The success of this project will undoubtedly pave the way for further technical innovations from K-State. “

The unique licensing and commercialization process conducted by K-State Innovation Partners and the PEARS team establishes a framework for future technologies to emerge from K-State.

“The PEARS partnership with colleges, and ultimately the Canopy deployment, sets a model for how innovation partners can coordinate and cooperate with others on campus who may have similar software and service products. in development, ”said Ken Williams, Marketing and Licensing Manager. with K-State Innovation Partners. “Additionally, the ongoing partnership with Canopy will allow innovation partners to have a qualified partner within the community to work with as we seek to deploy new technologies in the future. “

As Canopy continues to support PEARS and grow its business, the company will provide internship opportunities for K-State students and look to continue its collaboration with researchers and faculty. Canopy also plans to partner with local businesses to meet their planning, assessment and monitoring needs.

“We’re excited to see Canopy bring well-paying tech jobs to Manhattan and retain top talent in the region,” said Jason Smith, President and CEO of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. “Canopy’s growth also provides a great opportunity for local businesses to capitalize on the company’s expertise.

Margie D. Carlisle