HySense Technology CEO
Dr. Nahid Mohajeri moved to the U.S. from Iran almost 23 years ago to pursue her graduate studies in Central Florida. After overcoming some daunting challenges she created HySense Technology, located in Rockledge, which produces and markets UCF-licensed intelligent tape that changes color in the presence of hydrogen and other gases, to detect leaks, advance safety and potentially save lives. This past June, the company received the $100,000 first-place award at the CAT5 innovation competition at Innovation Concourse of the Southeast Safety and Manufacturing Event in Orlando, proving that the technology has even more potential to unleash.
A SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION
In 2003, UCF Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) had received a major grant from NASA-Glenn Research Center to lead a hydrogen research program in Florida. At the same time, NASA-KSC was looking for a safe and easy-to-use technology to identify hydrogen leaks. The idea for the project that resulted in this technology was initiated by a request from NASA-KSC to UCF-FSEC.
For the next eight years, the color-changing hydrogen leak detection technology was developed by Dr. Ali Raissi, director of advanced energy research at UCF-FSEC, for use by NASA engineers. The success of this project is due to a true spirit of collaboration and teamwork between two groups of scientists and the support that they received from their respective organizations.
THE BEGINNINGS OF HYSENSE
Many factors went into my decision to start HySense Technology. The color-changing hydrogen leak detection technology was ready for licensing for a couple of years prior to the inception of the company, and a few individuals had shown interest, but no deals were closed. At the same time, as inventors, we were receiving many requests for samples and great feedback from the ones that would field test the samples. In short, the technology was ready to fly but still needed wings: in other words a company that would be willing to take the product through the commercialization process.
I had already been thinking about taking this major step of starting a company, but my self-doubts were taking the lead. In early 2013, I was faced with a medical situation that, for about a month, its outcome was questionable. During that month, I went through some intense soul searching in many aspects of my life. After receiving a clean bill of health, one of the outcomes of the one-month journey was the start of HySense Technology.
The birth of HySense coincided with a deadline for entering the “MegaWatts” competition lead by UCF. The proposal was put together practically overnight, and somehow HySense ended in the top 10 list. So from there, the journey started.
THE IMPACT OF RECOGNITION
Placing first at the CAT5 Competition gave us the validation and recognition from the judges for the advances that we had made over a short period of one year and now our plans are to grow the company. Since that time we have been able to add four more prospective customers to our list and the fact that two are international demonstrates the great potential of this product.
Furthermore, the technology has also been selected as one of the 2014 R&D100 award winners, a great source of pride and honor for all of us that have been involved in research, development, and commercialization of this technology.
Florida universities develop and train great minds and talents in science and technology. But due to a lack of suitable industrial positions, most leave for other states. These types of awards not only encourage those graduates to explore possibilities in Florida but also, perhaps, bring in those from other states that would like to settle in our beautiful sunny Florida.