Kingsport veteran seeks to lead other vets to entrepreneurial success: Russ Hubbard commercializes DoD technology, and wants others to follow suit
Photo above: Russ Hubbard with Per Vivo Labs’ Odor Trace product.
By Scott Robertson
Russ Hubbard has found a new mission.
Hubbard, the owner of Per Vivo Labs in Kingsport and a combat-wounded veteran, is searching for fellow veterans who share his entrepreneurial spirit. “The Department of Defense and related U.S. Government agencies are in great need of commercialization partners,” Hubbard says. The opportunities that creates represent a potential boon for the region’s economy.
Hubbard knows from whence he speaks. Per Vivo Labs is currently working on multiple projects which arose from DoD patents that Hubbard is now commercializing. The first, branded “Odor Trace” is a system for safely training dogs to sniff out improvised explosives. Hubbard is already marketing Odor Trace to police and security officials in the U.S. and Canada. The second, which Per Vivo has branded “Zeroth Power Link” is something different altogether.
Hubbard picks up what is to the naked eye, a rubber tube, sealed at each end. Inside the tube is a chemical compound with unique behaviors. If you pull each end of the tube slowly, it will stretch normally. But if you use a quick motion, it’s like trying to stretch rebar with your hands. The resistance increases exponentially with the rate of force applied to it. “You might have three pounds of resistance at slow speed and 300 pounds at high speed,” Hubbard says.
Hubbard is incorporating the compound into physical therapy devices. “You can’t get hurt – there’s no elastic rebound and you always have the potential to be exercising at the maximum of what your ability is at that very moment.”
The technology was developed at the U.S. Army Research Lab at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Hubbard discovered it while researching physical therapy options for an injured relative. “I picked up the phone and called them. The technology was available, so I entered the negotiation process. Having been in the military, I knew what font and typeset they wanted, that sort of thing. That’s 95 percent of the battle with those guys. Within 90 days I had secured the exclusive license for these devices in the physiotherapy/exercise sciences space. For what we propose, the risk/reward curve is highly in our favor.”
In addition, Hubbard, a graduate of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, says he wants to help others do what he’s doing. “It’s economically advantageous for me to see the community develop.”
With a population rich in veterans and engineers, coupled with a veteran-friendly business environment, Hubbard believes the region is ripe for such development.
Hubbard has already helped another entrepreneur commercialize a military patent. An engineer Hubbard had sent to the Army Research Lab asked for Hubbard’s help in applying for a license to commercialize a robotic arm technology he’d seen there. Last month the product that engineer has created was showcased on FoxNews and Drudge.
A library of more than 9,000 DoD patents can be found at techlinkcenter.org, an aggregator operated at DoD expense by Montana State University to make idle DoD technologies available to the private sector. The site is a complete database of all DoD patents issued since 1997. Nationwide, TechLink agreements have generated more than $1.6 billion in sales of new products and services, $4.4 billion in economic output, and 1,580 jobs per year.
Hubbard says he’s open to other veterans who wish to seek out his input. “I want to give back,” he says. “It’s exciting. When you open a door for somebody, you don’t know where that’s going to take them.”