On Oct. 8, Embry-Riddle Research Park tenant Sensatek Propulsion Technology announced that its total funding had reached more than $3.5 million—on the same day that Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez visited campus to highlight the economic promise of aerospace enterprise.
Nuñez toured the University’s Daytona Beach Campus to take part in a daylong series of workforce-related events, including a Career Expo for some 7,000 current students as well as alumni of the University who are on campus for Homecoming celebrations. The day’s events also included a private workforce development roundtable where Nuñez heard from leading global aerospace companies.
Reamonn Soto (Photo: Embry-Riddle)
Since the spring 2017 debut of Embry-Riddle’s MicaPlex facility, the Research Park has recruited more than 17 companies — including global aerospace communications leader Arralis — that employ more than 76 student interns and have created some 33 full-time jobs at an annual salary of $60,000.
Sensatek Propulsion Technology, which licenses patented wireless sensor technology that increases the efficiency, improves the operational reliability and reduces the pollution of turbines, rockets, and fuel cells, is one of the MicaPlex firms advancing innovation and adding jobs in Volusia County. Earlier this year, the company scored a nearly $750,000 National Science Foundation grant. This week, with another $100,000 awarded by StarterStudio and $2 million in Seed Series investments, Sensatek brought its total support to $3.5 million-plus.
“The progress of Embry-Riddle’s Research Park is part of a broader team effort to establish Central Florida as the northern gateway to Florida’s space triangle so that our region can benefit from the $348 billion global space economy,” University President P. Barry Butler said. “Cultivating a highly skilled workforce will be key to making that happen and we are grateful for the Lieutenant Governor’s support for talent capacity-building efforts.”
In receiving the new StarterStudio award, Sensatek Propulsion Technology, founded by Embry-Riddle alumnus Reamonn Soto, became the first startup to receive the Central Florida startup hub’s maximum seed funding of $225,000. Soto’s company also closed on Seed Series investments from Rhapsody Venture Partners, based in Cambridge, Mass.; and Florida investors Beresford Ventures, AJJ-Jackson Limited Partnership, and Arctic Champion LLC, whose investments were all facilitated with the help of the Florida Angel Nexus.
“Sensatek Propulsion Technology is a perfect example of how Embry-Riddle’s Research Park, in partnership with local, state, federal and private supporters, drives innovation and creates high-paying jobs in Volusia County,” said Rodney Cruise, the University’s senior vice president for administration and planning. “Reamonn Soto’s business vision and StarterStudio’s strategic investment in his continued success will help fuel economic progress for Central Florida.”
So far, the MicaPlex has incubated eight new companies, seven of which have generated high-quality jobs for the local economy. “There’s typically a high failure rate for startups,” Cruise said. “We’re beating those odds.”