AMES, Iowa (April 17, 2019) — Iowa State University Startup Factory today announced that cohort three team N-Sense, LLC was selected through a highly competitive process to present at the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase held April 10 on Capitol Hill. Hosted by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Universities, the event spotlighted 20 startups from across the nation that have created products and services using federally funded, university-based research.

N-Sense is developing a field-mobile soil nitrate sensor for precision fertilizer management. N-Sense’s system, developed by a team of Iowa State University scientists, is based on Mid-Infrared sensor technology. It can be attached onto a nitrogen fertilizer applicator and used to modulate side-dress nitrogen (N) fertilizer application rates as the applicator moves through a field. N-Sense’s novel technology aims to make precision N fertilizer management both practical and profitable for farmers while simultaneously reducing the negative off-site environmental impacts of N fertilizer.

“N-Sense offers a unique solution that would enable farmers to measure nitrates in real-time, on-the-go and apply nitrogen only where it is needed,” N-Sense co-founder and President Dr. David Laird said. “It is estimated that our system would result in a $10-$50 per acre savings for farmers, and a cleaner environment.”

N-Sense received a $225,000 Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation that will allow N-Sense to demonstrate the feasibility of building a robust field-mobile soil nitrate sensor which can be used to optimize N fertilizer use.

“We are honored to have been selected to participate in the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase on Capitol Hill,” said Laird. “N-Sense, LLC has roots in research conducted at Iowa State University. We were excited to represent the incredible research that is coming out of Iowa State and bring attention to everything the university is doing to support a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Federal funding received as well as support from Iowa State University have been instrumental in helping N-Sense advance its work, and we are so grateful for this public-private partnership.”

The showcase highlighted the important role of federally funded university research in driving high-value entrepreneurship and the U.S. innovation economy for members of Congress, their staff, and national economic development and innovation policy leaders. Speakers included: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu; National Institute of Standards and Technology Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services Phillip Singerman; House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson and Ranking Member Frank Lucas; APLU President Peter McPherson; and AAU President Mary Sue Coleman.

“Path-breaking research is fundamental to the mission of public universities,” said APLU President McPherson. “Strong federal investment in university-based research is essential for our nation because that research provides the foundation for the development of new technologies that save lives, make us more secure, improve our quality of life, and power our economy forward. We’re thrilled to highlight some of the best startups sparked out of that investment to demonstrate how university-based research fuels innovation and entrepreneurship across the country. These startups are examples of why 88 percent of voters agree it’s important for the federal government to fund science and technology research. Scientific research spurs economic growth.”

Of the showcase, AAU President Mary Sue Coleman said: “The partnership between the government and American research universities lies at the heart of the U.S. scientific and higher education enterprise. This unique American partnership has empowered entrepreneurs to start companies and entire new industries that have advanced our health, national security, and economy.”

Startups were chosen by a selection committee comprised of innovation experts who considered the level of student engagement in the startup, the strength of the startup technology, and its connection to research. The committee also factored whether the affiliated university had earned APLU’s Innovation & Economic Prosperity University designation, a national recognition for higher education institutions that have demonstrated a substantial and sustainable commitment to promoting economic development.

N-Sense is a member of the Iowa State University Startup Factory’s third cohort of entrepreneurs. The Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program in the Iowa State University Research Park that provides an avenue for students, faculty, staff and community members to create technology-based, platform businesses. Entrepreneurs in the program receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs.

In addition to Iowa State University and N-Sense, the following universities and startups participated in the showcase:

KIYATEC (Clemson University)

MicroRid Technologies (Stony Brook University)

TissueForm (University of Colorado-Boulder):

Skylark Wireless (Rice University)

Xallent (Cornell University)

Ferric Contrast (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Florida Insect Control Group (University of Florida)

Eonix (SUNY Polytechnic Institute)

N-Sense (Iowa State University)

NOWA Innovations (UC-Irvine)

Entrada Therapeutics (Ohio State University)

Lumme (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

AEIOU Scientific (Ohio University)

Soteria Solutions (University of New Hampshire)

SpotLESS Materials (Penn State University)

Zeno Power (Vanderbilt University)

Magnitude Instruments (Penn State University)

Eco Carbon Tech (Washington State University)

Haptimage (Purdue University)

Roll-2-Roll Technologies (Oklahoma State University)


About ISU Startup Factory:

The Iowa State University (ISU) Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park (ISURP). Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs. For more information on the ISU Startup Factory program, call 515-294-7444 or visit

About N-Sense

N-Sense is developing a field mobile soil nitrate sensor system for farmers that can be used to measure soil nitrogen status and facilitate precision nitrogen fertilizer application thereby reducing nitrate loss to surface and ground water and fertilizer costs. For more information about N-Sense, email Co-founder and CEO Dr. Natalia Rogovska at; Co-founder and President Dr. David Laird at; or visit

About ISU Research Park

The Iowa State University Research Park (ISURP) is a 30-year-old real estate development community closely affiliated with Iowa State University. ISURP assists both established and startup companies in connecting with Iowa State’s vast infrastructure to grow their enterprises; whether through students, research entities, equipment or a multitude of other resources. ISURP is currently home to more than 70 companies, employs 1,700 people and occupies 600,000 square feet of commercial real estate on 400 acres. ISURP recently expanded into 200 acres of developable space, which will include tenant amenities, a park and multi-use trails. For more information on ISURP, call 515.296.4204 or visit


Julie Lelonek, Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations Communications


Iowa State University

Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations

1805 Collaboration Place

Ames, IA  50010