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PSU Entrepreneurs: HoneyComb Corporation
PSU Entrepreneurs: HoneyComb Corporation

Founded in 2012, Portland-based HoneyComb combines unmanned aircraft systems (drones), information, and imaging technology to improve outcomes in precision agriculture. HoneyComb is also the winner of the 2013 Angel Oregon Concept Company Competition.

Equipped with high-resolution, hypersprectral, and thermal imaging sensors, HoneyComb's drone aircraft can fly over farms and gather important data about crop growth and health. When processed and analyzed in aggregate, a service HoneyComb will offer its customers, this data is of high value to the farmers in the fields employing precision agriculture, the agriculture industry in general, researchers, and government agencies.

Precision agriculture is the practice of holistic farm management with the goal of maximizing yield by optimizing the use of resources such as water, fertilizer, and pesticides. It is a practice gaining acceptance and popularity across the U.S. and in other countries. In order to achieve maximum yield farmers rely on technology. HoneyComb operates at the forefront of the technological advances that will greet the next generation of precision agriculture farmers.

Combining drone, imaging, and data processing technologies, HoneyComb can gather, interpret, and report on data in near real time. This data can help farmers make better land/crop management decisions. Using data collected by HoneyComb, farmers could engage targeted applications of pesticides and fertilizers as opposed to wasteful and environmentally harmful blanket applications. Methods of irrigation could be improved. Instances of disease and pest infestation could be monitored and tracked.

By analyzing datasets collected over weeks, months, and seasons, HoneyComb can help farmers track the overall health of their land over time, determine best practices, and make better and more informed decisions pertaining to all aspects of their farms.

"HoneyComb wants to provide farmers with tools to help them significantly enhance their operations," said Ryan Jenson, CE) & Senior Engineer at HoneyComb. "The numbers vary, but precision agriculture can allow farmers to increase productivity by as much as 50 percent. Right now access to the right technology is the farmer's main obstacle."

Jenson has been a long proponent of the benefits of drone technology. From precision agriculture to remote sensing, evnironmental monitoring to forestry, the data unmanned aircraft systems allows companies like HoneyComb to collect could shed light on some of the most pressing issues of the day: carbon emmissions and golbal warming, pollution and population density, the rate of recovery in urban and rural areas after a natural disaster.

The University and Portland's entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In the business of data acquisition and analysis for applications in precision agriculture, HoneyComb is in good company here among the fields and vineyards dotting the silicone forest of the Pacific Northwest. CEO Jenson has roots here at Portland State University and in the metro region's greater entrepreneurial community. Jenson received both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from PSU. He is currently working on a Ph.D. As an entrepreneur, Jenson has co-founded both HoneyComb and IRPI, a Portland-based consulting and R&D firm that specialized in fluid-thermal engineering across a variety of sectors.

"I think the entrepreneurial ecosystem at PSU and across the metro region is really blowing up," Jenson said. "I've been around PSU and I've seen innovation and entrepreneurship take off and grow year after year.

"There's been a focus on web and app heavy technologies, but it's moving out into clean tech, and sustainability, and healthy living. I think Portland has the potential to be a serious and vibrant city for entrepreneurship and startup companies. As that ecosystem attracts more talented people and expands, I'm sure it will feed on itself."

Over the next year HoneyComb plans to make its move onto the market, to apply for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant and to partner with Oregon State university where researchers are already working on applying drone technology to precision agriculture.

Visit HoneyComb at: www.honeycombcorp.com