By Andy Wu PhD’16 (Team Leader) and Dick Zhang ENG’15 (on leave; Team Member) for Identified Technologies
Identified Technologies delivers a system of flying robots to collect data, for today’s data-driven industrial businesses, in settings where it is too dangerous or physically impossible to currently place sensors.
What’s new and exciting about your business?
For industrial firms who require extensive data to increase their outputs, decrease their input costs, and operate safely, Identified Technologies delivers teams of flying robots to collect data quicker, more frequently, and in a more scalable format than today’s labor intensive or imprecise manned aerial and satellite methods. We are protected by multiple pending patents and are licensing key flight control technology from the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab.
We are initially serving the oil & gas industry, but our technology has broad applications to other industries wherever aerial sensing is needed. We are currently rolling out our technology to multiple sites, including several for a Fortune 200 natural gas processing and transportation firm
How did you come up with this idea?
Dick is an engineer with a broad interest in robotics and hardware, and he was searching thoroughly for opportunities in the space. He recognized the opportunity present in both further automation of industrial processes as well as the nascent but swiftly growing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) space. Andy researches and teaches entrepreneurship and innovation at Wharton, with a particular focus on innovation management and strategy in the robotics, biotechnology, software, and aerospace & defense industries.
Dick and Andy joined up and started working on this idea over a year ago, and we have been refining our product and business model every day since. Our company has grown rapidly since: we’ve raised a pre-seed round, and we have established offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with several employees.
What does it mean to you to one of the “Great Eight” finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition?
The Wharton Business Plan Competition has a prestigious history and we are humbled to be a part of it. Moreover, we are honored to be affiliated in such a public way with the University of Pennsylvania: this company would not exist without the old Red and Blue.
If you win the Perlman Grand Prize ($30,000 prize, $10,000 in legal services, $5,000 in accounting/strategy services), what will you do with these resources?
We will spend the $30,000 on 4 to 6 new patent ideas that we have, and if there is anything left, put the remaining on international filings on prior patents. We would use the legal & accounting services towards closing our next funding round.
Dick is a phenomenal golfer and eight-ball pool player. He will beat anyone in a game of pool.* Andy works as a DJ at Penn events and various bars and venues in Philadelphia. Dick and Andy are also both caddies, so we know what it means to carry a lot of weight over a long distance.
*Andy’s greatest achievement of all time is beating Dick in a pool game without touching his own cue: Dick started with the break and went on a run, i.e. hit in every single ball on a single turn. On the final ball, the black eight-ball, Dick hit the ball into a pocket different than the one he called, and Andy won.