Innotronics LLC, a company launched by the U of M’s Venture Center based on scientific discoveries made by CTS Scholar Rajesh Rajamani, was named among the “Best University Startups 2016” in August by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2).
Innotronics, based in Stillwater, MN, develops non-contacting position sensors for use in construction and agriculture vehicles, as well as in industrial material handling systems.
Rajamani conducted the original research behind this technology in a project funded by the U’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute, a federally funded University Transportation Center (UTC) at the U of M from 1991 to 2013. In that project, Rajamani led the development of magnetic sensing technology that could be used to predict imminent collisions in passenger vehicles. The ITS Institute was succeeded in 2013 by the U of M-led Roadway Safety Institute, the Region 5 UTC, where Rajamani continues to conduct safety-related research.
“Later, we realized that the same magnetic position-sensing technology could be used for the non-intrusive estimation of the position of a piston inside a cylinder,” Rajamani says. “This has applications in hydraulic actuators, pneumatic actuators, internal combustion engines, and many other mechanical device applications.”
The non-intrusive, non-contacting magnetic sensors offered by Innotronics can be easily installed at a significantly lower cost than many other existing sensors. Rajamani serves as the company’s chief scientific officer.
Innotronics was one of 35 startups selected by NCET2 from 200 submissions from universities across the US. The startups were chosen by representatives from leading industry companies based on the technology’s potential, the experience of the business team, and the commercial feasibility of the invention or service. The startups represent early-stage companies with high potential to create jobs, advance technology, and meet societal challenges in health, the environment, and other fields.