Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund Invests $500,000 in N5 Sensors

July 26, 2023

The Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund has invested $500,000 into N5 Sensors Inc., an environmental hazard detection company developing a wildfire detection platform that can also measure air quality.

Pictured: Abhishek Motayed, Founder and CEO of N5 Sensors.

The investment is part of N5 Sensors’ second round of seed funding, led by Blu Venture Investors, with the University System of Maryland Momentum Fund and TEDCO also contributing.

The Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund invests in Maryland-based startup companies with innovative technologies that may help improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay area. Supported by funding from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Seed Fund is administered by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), a unit of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.

“We are excited to advance both our company and our technologies through support from the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund,” said Abhishek Motayed, Founder and CEO of N5 Sensors. “We plan to use the funding to scale up the manufacturing of our wildfire detection platform, which will help fuel its deployment across both U.S. and international markets.”

That platform, called N5Shield™, involves deploying networked, ground-based Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that rapidly detect and track the precise location of wildfires. The sensors are budget-friendly, small, easy to install, and are both solar- and battery-powered. A mobile cellular service is not required for the system to provide real-time alerts.

The N5Shield™ is more than just sensors: it is a system, an end-to-end architecture that leverages cloud-connected smart sensors, collecting data non-stop, combined with artificial intelligence, an intuitive dashboard, and real-time alerts.

The product can also detect hazardous air quality levels and measure the presence of nitrogen dioxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and flammable gasses, including hydrogen.

“N5 Sensors’ technology can be used to monitor prescribed burns, a climate adaptation strategy that improves forest health, leads to long-term carbon sequestration, and reduces the risk of wildfire,” said Sarah Lane, Center Director for Policy, Planning, and Communication for the Chesapeake and Coastal Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “It can also detect hazardous air pollution levels and alert officials so they can implement solutions that protect public health.”

N5 Sensors’ core technology is a tiny silicon chip with multiple microsensors that can detect different chemicals and gases, as well as temperature and humidity. The company’s chip can be embedded into both smart devices and wearables for a broad range of applications, including first response, industrial and petrochemical detection, military use, and hospital and home safety.  

Motayed developed N5 Sensors’ technology jointly with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) while serving as a research faculty member in the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics (IREAP) at the University of Maryland. N5 licensed the technology from the university.

Motayed launched N5 Sensors in 2012 and left the university in 2015 to focus full-time on growing the company. He led N5 through an early cohort of DC I-Corps, a regional, National Science Foundation-sponsored program providing real-world, hands-on training on how to successfully leverage innovations into successful products.

N5 Sensors was awarded three separate, two-year Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) grants to work with university faculty on further developing its product. The company also secured Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) support through the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII), Joint Technology Transfer Initiative (JTTI), and NIST – Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Program (N-STEP).

The company is also developing a wearable device that detects chemical threats, another that can detect infection from a person’s breath, and a third that detects opioids in aerosols for first responders.

With 31 employees, N5 Sensors has two locations in Rockville, Md.

“N5 Sensors has a product with a proven track record and a highly qualified team,” said Scott Christensen, Manager of the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund. “Their solution is needed as the effects of climate change worsen. What’s more, with the versatility of their product, they can expand to other markets, such as emergency response, defense, air quality, and public health.”