UH Startup Sensytec Builds a Foundation of Wins


Rashda Khan
Professor Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan and his doctoral student Sai Anudeep Reddy Maddi in their UH Cullen College lab where they work on their smart cement and related research.
Professor Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan and his doctoral student Sai Anudeep Reddy Maddi in their UH Cullen College lab where they work on their smart cement and related research.
UH Startup Sensytec Wins the Houston Angel Network Investment Prize at the Houston MassChallenge.
UH Startup Sensytec Wins the Houston Angel Network Investment Prize at the Inaugural Houston MassChallenge

Sensytec Wins Houston MassChallenge, HAN Investment Prize Money and Recognition from Rice Alliance


Sensytec, a UH startup, is busy cementing its reputation with multiple wins this month.

On Sept. 5, it was chosen as one of three local winners of the inaugural Houston MassChallenge program. The Houston Angel Network – one of the oldest and most active group of angel investors in the area – also selected the company for its $40,000 investment prize at the same event.

This week Sensytec was recognized as one of 10 most promising companies by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. The awards were presented Wednesday at the 17th annual Energy and Clean Technology Forum, which is the largest venture capital conference in the Southwest.

“We are proud to be a part of a grand vision to push boundaries, impact the community and embrace innovation,” Sensytec’s Twitter account posted after the wins.

Sensytec, established in 2015, is based on the groundbreaking research of Cumaraswamy "Vipu" Vipulanandan, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering and director of the Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology (CIGMAT).

He invented “smart” cement, which is an innovative 3D highly sensing chemo-thermo-piezoresistive material used as an additive to cement or concrete to make construction safer by enabling monitoring, real-time data collection.  Less than eight ounces of the additive is needed to produce 1,000 pounds of smart cement, which can detect earthquakes, gas leaks, cracks and curing among other things.

Vipulanandan also developed the real-time monitoring system for smart cement users.

Smart cement has broad applicability and can be use in oil, gas and water wells, pipelines, highways, bridges, buildings and more. The sensing ability lasts the lifetime of the structures.

“At the end of the day, we addressed a universal need,” Vipulanandan said about his research team. “We figured out a way to make our research applicable to the real world.”

Sensytec has brought to market both the smart cement and the monitoring system. The company is located at the UH Technology Bridge – a research park that offers 30,000 square feet of incubator space and 700,000 square feet for laboratories and light manufacturing.

While Vipulanandan serves as an advisor, the company is run by Ody de La Paz, a UH graduate with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and entrepreneurship, and Sai Anudeep Reddy Maddi, who is working on his Ph.D in civil and environmental engineering at the Cullen College. Maddi earned his master’s in structural engineering at UH in 2016.

Maddi said the wins mean more opportunities for Sensytec. “It was very exciting and a great honor to be recognized,” he said. “The wins have elevated Sensytec's presence in the Houston community and beyond, and winning the investment prize took it to a whole different level.”

The company, which has previously won funds from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Techstars Accelerator, has also been selected to be part of the Smart Cities Ion Accelerator Program in partnership with Microsoft, Intel and the City of Houston. Sensytec tops the list of 10 companies accepted into the program.

To learn more about Sensytec, please visit:

MassChallenge, a Boston-based accelerator program with international locations, established its Houston program earlier in 2019.

"It took a city-wide effort to bring MassChallenge here," Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a news release. "Now I am proud to see how much has been accomplished in only nine months since the announcement of Houston as their second Texas-based location."

To see the full list of the 2019 Houston MassChallenge winners, please visit: Houston MassChallenge Announcement.

Read the media coverage about the Houston MassChallenge: Houston Chronicle and InnovationMap.

Read about the Rice Alliance’s 10 most promising energy tech companies.

Read the Houston Chronicle’s recent article on the Ion Smart Cities Accelerator.




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