2023 Innovators to Watch: Christina Drake, Founder of Kismet Technologies

March 13 | insights

As a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dr. Christina Drake, Founder of Kismet Technologies, was so inspired by the technical smarts and problem-solving abilities of the starship Enterprise’s chief engineer, Geordi La Forge, that she decided to pursue a similar path.

Armed with degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida (UCF), she embarked on a career in engineering—first, as a research engineer with Lockheed Martin and later as an assistant professor with Florida Polytechnic University. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic, however, that Drake found her calling as an entrepreneur.

Drake suffered from severe asthma in her youth and was susceptible to both pneumonia and bronchitis, for which she was hospitalized several times. “When COVID-19 hit, the idea for NanoRAD was born out of that experience and wanting to prevent it for other people in whatever way I could with whatever technical knowledge I had,” she said.

Although the materials science engineer may not be working on a starship, her latest invention is a thing of the future. Nano-based Residual Active Disinfectant (NanoRAD) is a patent-pending nanoparticle specially engineered to disinfect the surface on which it is applied by producing hydrogen peroxide from water available in the air or around the pathogen. The transparent coating kills most bacteria and viruses within two hours and can last for up to three months. Unlike other disinfectants, it is also safer for people and the planet, eradicating infectious pathogens without the release of harmful toxins.

Drake founded Kismet Technologies in 2019 to commercialize NanoRAD and has since expanded its portfolio to include infection-control products for wound healing and surface coatings for medical devices. The UCF Business Incubation Program client is now seeking approval from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use its products in a variety of settings. Other upcoming milestones include the opening of a manufacturing facility in Orlando and pilot programs for its products in hospitals, cruise ships and clean rooms.

“We really feel that NanoRAD and the underlying nanotechnology have the potential to drastically transform the way that we approach infection control with fewer chemicals and less waste going to the environment,” said Drake. “[This year] is when NanoRAD really gets out into the world and shows what it can do.”

She points to The Corridor’s Cenfluence program among key resources that have sparked Kismet Technologies’ early growth. Specifically, Cenfluence’s curated list of solicitations, competitions and events for Cluster Members was a time saver, while scholarships to several in-person conferences allowed Drake to raise awareness about Kismet Technologies among new audiences. The company also secured non-dilutive STTR funding from the National Science Foundation in 2020, which Drake leveraged for funds from The Corridor’s Matching Grants Research Program to develop a proof-of-concept in partnership with researchers at UCF. The scientific results they achieved gave Drake confidence to continue growing the company and to pursue funding from investors and other outside sources.

Amidst these early wins, entrepreneurship has, at times, been challenging for Drake, especially while balancing her professional responsibilities as CEO with her personal responsibilities as a mom. As she shared in an interview for Cenfluence, “I know there are fathers that have children that they have to take care of, but it’s a little bit different when you’re a mom and you have small children, and you’re also running a company. I think that there is more that can be done to kind of highlight what that looks like and what success looks like.”

For others considering the journey, Drake provides an ideal role model. Her advice for other women with entrepreneurial aspirations is to have a clear sense of what you want and to know who you are. “There are no do-overs. This isn’t a dress rehearsal. You need to know what it is that you want if you want to be able to live a life where, at the end of it, you’re not full of regrets. Where you can be like, ‘I did the best I could with the time I had.’”


Fast Facts

Company: Kismet Technologies
Founded: 2019
Number of Employees: 7
Number one driver of success: Persistence
Are you hiring: Yes, learn more about career opportunities with Kismet Technologies »
Hobbies: spending time with family and friends

For more 2023 Innovators to Watch, read our full roundup »