In 2018, The Corridor Council had the pleasure of speaking with Sensatek Founder and CEO Reamonn Soto for its ongoing “Faces of Technology” series. A little more than two years later, the company’s growth trajectory has skyrocketed. Under Soto’s leadership, Sensatek has secured more than $4.5 million in capital funding, engaged in multiple, successful SBIRs, and took home the gold at industry-leading competitions.
Determined to fix an overheating problem plaguing companies that rely on turbine engines for operations, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University alumnus, Reamonn Soto, launched Sensatek in 2015. He and his wife, Azryana Soto – fueled by partnership with researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – worked to develop proprietary, wireless ceramic sensors designed to withstand extreme heat while swiftly transmitting critical data. With the development of this first-of-its-kind technology, Sensatek, led by Soto and backed by a robust team of brilliant, Corridor-based professionals, has remained steadfast in its goal to become a market leader in next-generation propulsion technology, with continued development and commercialization of cutting-edge, high temperature sensors for operations held in extreme environments, while continuing to dig deeper into data that can further optimize the utilization of its propulsion systems.
And, five years since the company’s founding, efforts to meet that goal have only accelerated, with growth of the company’s team following suit. “We have been able to expand our team to 10 full-time employees,” explained Soto, including a new Chief Technology Officer, as well as material scientists, and electrical and aerospace engineers. Under Soto’s leadership, the team has greatly augmented key, in-house functionality, with the build-out of brand-new laboratories specifically designed for jet engine testing; high temperature sensor cycling; manufacturing, calibrating and testing sensors; and much more.
This physical expansion has laid the stage for Sensatek to herald in even greater milestones, including the opportunity to demonstrate the durability of its sensors with Siemens Energy and conduct a pilot demonstration of its technology’s capabilities on a SGT6-5000F engine at the company’s in-house power plant. Bringing all of these essential functions to improve and provide optimal sensor capabilities under one roof has primed Senstak to save leading industry executives millions in annual operations.
Of course, as Soto is quick to point out, this rapid expansion would not have been possible without collaboration with partners, from both industry and academia, across The Corridor region: “Career Source Flagler Volusia has been vital to our talent recruitment efforts, Embry-Riddle’s business incubator invested in us through the Starter Studio Seed Fund and the UCF Business Technology Incubator played a key role in helping us fully develop our business model.” Other valued partners include the Florida Small Business Development Center Network, which provided essential assistance in financial forecasting, and funding through the Florida High Tech Corridor Council’s Matching Grants Research Program to support the company in conducting sensor endurance testing with Siemens Energy.
Beyond collaboration within the region, Soto and his team have caught the attention of national organizations eager to fund the company’s continued growth and innovation, including:
- More than $1.25 million from the National Science Foundation;
- More than $550,000 from the U.S. Air Force to support engine testing and development in collaboration with the force’s research laboratory; and,
- Nearly $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to support advanced development of sensors for ultra-high temperatures exceeding that seen by typical industrial-class jet engines.
According to Soto, the support, collaboration and partnership made readily available to his ambitious company has been instrumental to its early-stage growth, as well as its ongoing success. The recent funding alone, per Soto, “has allowed us to make leaps and bounds by rapidly enhancing sensor accuracy and increasing high temperature survivability and durability.” Which, especially amid COVID-19, was no easy feat. In the face of the pandemic, Soto and his team remained dynamic and flexible, shifting operations to work remotely while leveraging web-hosted resources from partner organizations to continue running high-scale simulations via cloud access. “Some team members were even creating prototypes in their garages,” underlined Soto.
With a proven drive for innovation and eagerness to expand through strategic partnership and collaboration, Sensatek is on the path to surpass its incredible year-over-year growth trajectory, both through 2021 and beyond. And, with the 23-county Corridor region serving as its home, Sensatek is primed for a future that is virtually limitless.