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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

UW gets slice of prof’s startup sale

The sale today of Zensi, an Atlanta energy monitoring startup, will benefit the University of Washington directly and indirectly.

Zensi was co-founded three years ago by a UW assistant professor, Shwetak Patel, while he was a grad student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Patel stayed involved remotely after he joined the UW engineering faculty in late 2008.

The 10-person startup today announced that it was acquired for an undisclosed amount by consumer electronics manufacturer Belkin.

Zensi drew on research from the UW and Georgia Tech into online monitoring of home electricity and water consumption. The schools will receive licensing royalties from Belkin as part of the deal.

Patel will continue advising the company, while teaching UW students in a program that emphasizes turning research into practical projects. He now has another case study.

“It only took me about three years to go from research to a real product,” he said today.

Selling to Belkin expedites the process of getting to market, Patel said. Zensi was considering taking venture capital and developing products itself, but that would have taken several more years. Belkin is incorporating the technology into a line of “Conserve” energy management products that’s being expanded later this year.

Last year, the same research put Patel, 28, on Technology Review’s list of standout young technologists.

Patel is mulling another venture in the healthcare monitoring space, but first he’ll take a little break from startups.

Comments | More in | Topics: Belkin, cleantech, Education

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