Farm Pest Tech Company Lands Grant

Posted: Updated:

An agricultural technology company has been awarded a $630,000 National Science Foundation grant. Spensa Technologies Inc., which is based at Purdue Research Park, will use the funding to boost data collection and response capabilities of its Z-Trap pest management device. During an interview last month on Inside INdiana Business Television, Vice President of Business Operations Ed Lee discussed what's on the horizon for the five-year-old company. November 5, 2014

News Release

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Spensa Technologies Inc., a precision agriculture startup in Purdue Research Park, received a $630,000 SBIR Phase 2 grant from the National Science Foundation to expand its electronic insect-trapping device, called Z-Trap, to detect and classify multiple insect pest species.

This SBIR Phase 2 award also will match any outside investment to the company up to $500,000 in the next two years.

"This NSF grant will be used to significantly increase the value of our Z-Trap device to help growers and crop advisers because it will allow them to collect more data and respond with greater precision with their pest management programs," said Johnny Park, president and CEO of Spensa and a Purdue research assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering.

"The Z-Trap is an important agricultural tool because it can automatically collect insect population data in real-time, reduce insecticide use and reduce costs.

"Insect management is a big business. In the U.S. in 2010, crop growers lost $20 billion to insect damage and spent $4.5 billion on insecticides."

The Z-Trap was originally designed to monitor a single insect species per device. The research funded by NSF will allow one Z-Trap to monitor multiple insect species simultaneously.

"The expanded ability to monitor and control multiple insect species through Z-Trap is something that has been requested by our client base and that we have been working on for a couple of years," Park said. "The short-team goal is to make the expanded use of the Z-Trap in various markets in agriculture with a long-term goal of making the device available even outside the field of agriculture, such as government and public health programs related to invasive species monitoring."

The Z-Trap is currently used in five continents around the globe.

The NSF grant follows an additional $1.3 million that the company recently received from multiple investors and venture programs to further develop its online pest management program, called Mytraps.com.

Spensa was named the top company in the 2013 BioCrossroads New Venture Competition. The company is located in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette and has received startup assistance through Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

In 2015 Spensa plans to launch a new scouting app called OpenScout that helps growers and crop advisers easily record scouting notes and photos as they walk in their fields.

For more information on Spensa's software products visit http://openscout.ag and http://mytraps.com, and for Z-Trap visit http://spensatech.com.

About Spensa Technologies Inc.

Spensa Technologies is a startup in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette. Johnny Park, president and CEO, founded the company in 2009. Spensa's mission is to design, develop and deliver novel technologies for the agricultural industry that will reduce reliance on manual labor, foster eco-friendly farming and enhance crop production efficiency. Their technologies leverage the team's world-leading expertise in wireless sensor networks, robotics and computer vision.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. The Purdue Foundry is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org

Source: Purdue Research Foundation