UCF-Based Research Fuels $100k Win for Entrepreneur

UCF-Based Research Fuels $100k Win for Entrepreneur

Hysense Technology CEO Nahid Mohajeri and Production Manager Monica Kowalczik accept the grand prize check of $100,000 for placing first in the CAT5 competition at Innovation Concourse of the Southeast 2014 in Orlando.

A UCF spinoff company received the $100,000 first-place award at the CAT5 Awards at Innovation Concourse of the Southeast: Manufacturing and Safety event in Orlando.  The company took the top prize from a pool of more than 80 technology-based companies.

HySense Technology, founded by UCF Florida Solar Energy Center researcher Nahid Mohajeri, develops and produces an intelligent tape that changes color in the presence of hydrogen and other gases.

“This is real validation, just the fact that people, the judges, believe in us,” Mohajeri said.

Mohajeri developed technology to detect hydrogen leaks wherever it is stored or transported as part of a $10 million grant from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.   Her company later licensed the technology from UCF.

HySense is marketing a specialty beige tape that turns black when hydrogen is detected. It can be wrapped around or attached to surfaces where gas might leak.  Mohajeri has five customers so far, and is aiming for $90,000 total revenue this year.

“To have an awards program like this in Central Florida is huge,” she added. “As scientists, we are very much aware that low wages are in issue in the region. But these awards can bring more high-paying jobs here.  When people see that we have this level of support, that makes a difference.”

The CAT5 Awards is hosted by Space Florida and UCF.  It showcases tech companies in the Southeast that attracts venture funding for Florida’s entrepreneurs.  This year’s event was help in Orlando on June 3-4 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport.

“The CAT5 Awards support the idea that technology businesses are a key component to the enhancement of Florida’s future innovation-based economic growth,” said Tom O’Neal, associate vice president of Research and Commercialization at UCF. “HySense is a clear example of innovation-based economic growth.”