Sparks tech firm lands big bucks for its tiny air sensors

Sparks-based NevadaNanotech Systems Inc., a developer of digital-based vapor detection devices, has millions in new funding to advance its work.

NevadaNano announced last week it has raised $18 million in Series B Funding, led by Ray Stata, chairman of Analog Devices, Inc., and other investors. That follows NevadaNano’s original $1.5 million in Series A financing.

For the 40-employee company, the new money will mean five to 10 additional employees and accelerate the market launch for its tiny sensors — small enough to fit in the palm of the hand — that can be used in homes, businesses and the outdoor environment.

“Our goal is, we want to repair a dent in the world — 6.5 million people die from air pollution every year and many more are impaired,” Ralph Whitten, president of NevadaNano, told more than 30 business leaders and others at a reception in the company offices on Greg Street in Sparks.

“These funds will go directly to commercialize our technology,” Whitten said, and at a low cost.

“That’s the missing piece: a low-cost measurement system,” he said. “We enable the Internet to smell in a scientific way. We can identify cancer-causing elements in our homes.”

In a statement, Stata said, “Gas sensing for Internet of Things networks is a multibillion-dollar market waiting for a solution.

The need for better sensors that can be distributed in our homes, offices and outdoors to monitor our exposure to hazardous gases and enable us to take action to protect our health is a worldwide problem.”

Last week’s announcement included a tour of NevadaNano’s facilities showed the evolution of the company’s work, from an original 1 foot by 1 foot metal-framed box constructed more than a decade ago to fully functioning sensors not much bigger than a bottle cap in a case the size of a smartphone.

Elsewhere in the facility on Greg Street in Sparks, other staff assemble parts, some smaller in width than a human hair, that make up what are officially known as NevadaNano’s Molecular Property Spectrometer gas sensing solutions.

All of which will detect, at levels in the parts per trillion, gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and other atmospheric hazards.

NevadaNano has partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno, which lent its research that resulted in the licensed technologies that NevadaNano is now using to advance its products.

The size of the Series B funding, known in the financing world as the second round of investment from private equity investors and venture capitalists, is impressive, others at the reception said.

“This puts NevadaNano into a very elite group of tech companies in our area for Series B capital,” said Doug Erwin, senior vice president, entrepreneurial development at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

“If NevadaNano can do it, more companies in our area can do it,” Erwin said.

Added Whitten, “Our MPS gas sensors deliver precision and accuracy in a package designed for the Internet of Things. We’re excited to be bringing digital scent to the Internet.”


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