June 17, 2024
You are here:  Home  >  Energy  >  Current Article

EyeClimate takes home top prize at 2024 New Venture Finals


Satish Kumar, CEO of EyeClimate, delivered the team’s speech at the NVC Finals on May 23, hosted at UC Santa Barbara’s Cabrillo Pavilion. (courtesy photo)

For the last six years, Satish Kumar has been at UC Santa Barbara working on his Ph.D., including his thesis on methane detection emissions.

For the past eight months, he has been putting that research and work into even more use, founding a company called EyeClimate.

And all that work came to fruition on May 23 when EyeClimate won UCSB’s annual New Venture Finals, taking home $12,500 in money that will go toward helping build the startup into something special.

“I am a researcher, but my whole goal with whatever I was going to research goal was that I want to build that into a successful product outside once I’m done because I don’t want my Ph.D. thesis to just go and sit on a like a rack in a library,” Kumar told the Business Times about his inspiration to start EyeClimate.

“About 90% of the papers people write, they just sit somewhere and are never read. I am not sure if I ever wanted to be an entrepreneur per say, but I know I always wanted to convert the research I am working on into an actual product.”

EyeClimate provides methane emission detection technologies, which are driven by source-agnostic data.

Methane emissions are deeply worrisome, as they are responsible for around 30% of the current rise in global temperature.

“For perspective, the amount of damage that carbon dioxide can do in 100 years, methane can do that much to our environment in 1.2 years,” Kumar said.

“That is one of the strongest motivations for us to want to do something toward helping the environment.”

Kumar said his research is also key as “what I can do will take people a long time to catch up — like at least more than two years to catch up from where we are already.”

EyeClimate provides sensors that can tell precisely where the methane emission is coming from, how much is leaking out, and more important factors that can help a company block or stop the leakage.

Not even a decade ago, Aliso Canyon had a leak that wasn’t caught for around four months. In that time, nearly 100,000 tons of methane and other substances were released into the atmosphere over 118 days.

In 2022, the Southern California Gas Co. agreed to a $71 million settlement with the California Public Utilities Commission over the 2015 Aliso Canyon that forced thousands of residents from their homes.

“And that’s just from one single leakage, there are more than 600,000 leakages just in the U.S. alone from gas pipelines,” Kumar said.

Currently, EyeClimate has a few pilot sensors out to showcase how effective the product is with the hopes of adding more. The prize money will go toward getting more pilot programs greenlit.

Kumar himself, who is set to finish up his Ph.D. program this summer, will then focus full-time on EyeClimate. 

The company has raised $150,000 from grants and will look for venture capital in the future.

Kumar added that the NVC process and Dave Adornetto, the entrepreneurship director at UCSB’s Department of Technology Management, helped him get in touch with important people.

The day of the final competition, he even met and communicated with people from Teledyne Flir in Goleta, who specialize in sensors.

“The event gave us huge credibility. Before it, we were just seen as a bunch of students and now I think people see the difference we are trying to make,” Kumar said.

In second place at the NVC Finals was Denovo Therapeutics, who took home $7,500 in cash and grants, followed by third-place recipient Sonico who took home $5,000 in cash and grants.

The other three competing teams, SciRX, Empro and BioBlend each took home $2,500 in cash and grants for being honorable mentions.

EyeClimate, in addition to being first and winning $10,000, won the People’s Choice Award alongside Empro, meaning both companies split $2,500.

email: jmercado@pacbiztimes.com