USM Maryland Momentum Fund invests $300,000 in N5 Sensors

The investment completes a financing round of more than $1 million for the University of Maryland, College Park-affiliated company developing microscale environmental sensing

Baltimore, Md. (Sept. 30, 2020)—The Maryland Momentum Fund has invested $300,000 in Rockville-based N5 Sensors Inc., a company developing smart, microscale, wearable sensors to detect gas, chemicals and additional environmental conditions for a variety of applications, fund officials announced today.

The investment completes a financing round of more than $1 million for the company and includes funding from Blu Venture Investors.

The Maryland Momentum Fund, an initiative of the University System of Maryland (USM), provides late seed funding for promising technology ventures that come out of any of the 12 constituent USM institutions, its research parks, and its students, faculty, or graduates. The fund co-invests with venture capitalists, foundations and angel investors.

“We are excited to take N5 to the next level with support from Blu Venture Investors and the Maryland Momentum Fund,” said Abhishek Motayed, Founder and CEO of N5 Sensors. “We plan to leverage this funding to accelerate the commercial release of our products, scale up manufacturing, and expand our business team.”

N5 Sensors’ core technology is a tiny computer 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 wearable and smart devices for a broad range of applications, including hospital and home safety, first response, industrial and petrochemical detection, and military use. 

N5’s current product focus is on compact, wearable chemical detection systems for industrial safety and military use cases. The sensors, worn on a belt clip, arm band, or fixed to a shoulder strap or badge, detect common gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia, as well as chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals found in warzone or relevant military operations.

“We are excited about N5 Sensors’ commercial potential and the market traction the company has already achieved,” said Claire Broido Johnson, Managing Director of the Momentum Fund. “We are happy to co-invest with Blu Ventures in a company whose technology holds great promise for monitoring our environments and, more importantly, the air we breathe every day.”

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 incorporate innovations into successful products.

N5 Sensors was awarded two 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).
In 2016, N5 Sensors completed an $800,000 seed round of funding led by Blu Venture Investors. The company has also received $4 million from government contracts and awards.

N5 Sensors employs 15 people.

“Blu Ventures is excited to make a follow-on investment into N5 Sensors, a company creating ground-breaking technology,” said Hal Shelton, Principal at Blu Ventures and Board Observer of N5. “As an investment firm composed of successful operators and entrepreneurs, Blu believes in the product and solutions being created at N5. This is the right team and incredible technology; they have the potential to become a global player in the sensors market. We see that legacy solutions in the environmental sensors market are outdated, inefficient, and cost-prohibitive. Abhishek and the team continue to innovate in environmental safety for both businesses, consumers and government alike.”

In the long term, N5 Sensors plans to develop digital system-on-chip gas detection solutions for consumers, according to Motayed. These could include embedding the company’s chips in devices such as smartphones and thermostats, which could then detect and monitor both indoor and outdoor air quality, along with gases and chemicals that affect the well-being of everyone.

About the USM Momentum Fund
The Maryland Momentum Fund is an initiative of the University System of Maryland (USM) to provide late seed investment funding for promising technology ventures that come out of any of the 12 constituent USM institutions, its research parks, and its students, faculty, or graduates. With a $10M commitment from the USM already in place, the Fund co-invests with venture capitalists, foundations, and angel investors.
The Maryland Momentum Fund, established by the USM Board of Regents to support promising commercial opportunities arising from advances in research and intellectual property at USM campuses, has invested in 15 startups to date:  MF Fire, NextStep Robotics, the North American Wave Engine Corporation, Zest Tea, PaverGuide, Retrium, Veralox Therapeutics, Gemstone Biotherapeutics, NeoProgen, Minnowtech, ARMR Systems, Infercabuary, Datakwip, pathOtrak, KaloCyte, miRecule, and N5 Sensors. The Fund is designed to create returns and support USM’s most innovative ideas as they enter the marketplace.

About N5 Sensors
N5 Sensors is a Rockville-based leading semiconductor sensor technology company creating products and wearable gas and chemical hazard sensor detectors and leading the development of ultra-low power, selective microscale environmental sensors.  It is commercializing environmental detection solutions for diverse markets leveraging its University of Maryland, College Park patented microscale environmental sensors.  These sensors can be implanted into any device, including wearables, smart-home appliances, ruggedized first-response equipment, and government and military field equipment.

About Blu Ventures
Blu Venture Investors was founded in 2010 by a group of like-minded entrepreneurs looking to use their time and money to up the game of angel and early-stage venture investing in the DC area. After 10 years and over $75 million invested, Blu Venture Investors has created a vibrant entity and ecosystem and achieved success in the greater DC and Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.

Contact – N5 Sensors
Abhishek Motayed
Phone: 301-257-6756

Contact – Blu Ventures
Ben Ebenezer
Phone: 703-775-2114


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719