Technology & Computer

The next unicorn? Deep tech startup in Utah could revolutionize safety tests with simulation software

OREM — What if you could perform a safety test on a car without ever crashing one in a real-life study?

That’s just what simulation company Coreform LLC has set out to do when they engineered simulation software for automotive, nuclear and defense industries. The Orem-based company is marketing technology developed through Brigham Young University to run highly sophisticated simulations for any number of products.

“There are many applications for engineering simulation technology and the field is not as mature as you might think. There is significant opportunity for new, more accurate software,” said Coreform CEO Matt Sederberg.

Coreform’s innovative technology could potentially revolutionize what companies can simulate on a computer.

One of the most applicable ways the tech can be used is testing safety for cars. By eliminating the time, energy and resources that go into crashing a physical car, the software can streamline the process.

On a computer, a model can run test after test and go through all sorts of different scenarios immediately and see different angles that could all contribute to improving design and ultimately the safety.

“You can actually learn more on a computer than in real life because you can only crash each physical protoype car once, but you can run many simulations and scenarios with each computer model,” Sederberg said. “There are significant benefits and expense saved through simulation on the computer.”

This kind of deeply scientific technology doesn’t happen overnight, though.

The tech, itself, was born out of research led by BYU professor and Coreform co-founder Michael Scott nearly 15 years ago. The company was founded about six years ago, and it could take up to another decade before the technology becomes widely available.

“Commercial interest gradually grew in this research to the point that it was more feasible to deal with in an academic setting,” Scott said. “So, I started a company and moved off campus, and then it just has grown from there.”

The software takes engineers years to perfect, with an entry-level position requiring Ph.D.-level education. The precision needs to be spot on since it will be used to simulate high-stakes scenarios, like in the nuclear industry.

“The accuracy and the scrutiny that simulation technology is under is high, because it will be used in critical applications where safety is at stake. The technology must be validated and verified with known real-world behavior on simple benchmark problems before it is used for critical automotive, nuclear energy, or defense applications,” Sederberg said. “For example, in the nuclear energy industry, simulations predict how a nuclear reactor will perform fifty years into the future. Confidence in these simulations must be built up over time.”

Both Scott and Sederberg, a BYU grad, said the strategic relationship the company has cultivated with BYU has been extremely beneficial to both the university and Coreform; graduate students are given the opportunity to work on research for real-world problems, and the company, in turn, hires a lot of talent from the student pool.

“This technology is still young, so it’s not yet in use for complete our crash simulations; but that’s the whole vision is that our partners want,” Sederberg explained.

The company, which is the fastest-growing simulation company in the nation, according to the Inc. 5000, is already working with large global automotive companies who are interested in its software.

“These kinds of technologies take several years before they go into full production,” Sederberg said. “And so, we’re just in the beginning stages of verifying and validating technology with them.”

Coreform could also be on its way to becoming the next unicorn, a private startup valued at $1 billion or more.

Aside from car safety tests, the software can be used to simulate any number of engineering problems.

“Basically, any time that you want to manufacture something and see how it will behave in real life — like, will it crack under pressure, if it will work (and) when, then those are areas where you would use this technology,” Sederberg said.

Lauren Bennett

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