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IU-funded developer of commercial UAV platform wins Indiana Innovation Award



INDIANAPOLIS — PrecisionHawk, which collects and processes aerial survey data through sensors mounted on lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), won one of 10 Indiana Innovation Awards presented Thursday at Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis.

The company, which has worked with Indiana University’s Department of Geology and counts the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.’s Innovate Indiana Fund among its lead investors, was among 100 nominees considered by for the award. Now in its fourth year, the awards program administered by Centric, Indy’s Innovation Network, recognizes firms with operations focused on Indiana that have launched a successful and innovative product or service within the past three years.

Flying autonomously — without the need for human operators — PrecisionHawk’s Lancaster Hawkeye Mark III can fly grids or other programmed patterns over land or water to perform surveying, mapping, imaging and other tasks. Plug-and-play sensors aboard the aircraft collect high-resolution visual imagery — along with thermal, multispectral and other data.

Once the UAV lands — typically on an open patch of grass — operators upload the data to PrecisionHawk’s proprietary data management solution, which can perform any level of custom analysis a client requires. Such data can be used in industries such as agriculture, oil and gas, insurance, forestry and utilities — as well as in applications such as environmental science, geology and disaster response.

In one of its earlier projects, PrecisionHawk teamed with IU scientists to measure soil saturation and vegetation health on a land tract in eastern Indiana.

“The company has made the process of obtaining data, assembling it in the cloud and interpreting the data seamless,” said Ken Green, a PrecisionHawk board member and managing director of the Innovate Indiana Fund. “We think this simplicity of usage fits in very well with our customers’ business processes.”

The Innovate Indiana Fund made its initial investment in PrecisionHawk in 2013, Green said. The company’s chief operating officer, Pat Lohman, holds a masters degree from IU and accepted the award as part of Centric’s Day of Innovation. The event brought together a broad range of leaders and companies from the business, non-profit, academic and entrepreneurial sectors.

“We are truly humbled to be recognized by Centric and the Indiana Innovation Panel as a company that values the growth and adoption of innovative technologies,” Lohman said.

“PrecisionHawk occupies a new space in a transformative industry, and the market surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles has stunning growth potential. It is our goal to continue providing the technology tools that will positively impact businesses across the state of Indiana and throughout the world.”

PrecisionHawk was founded in 2010 in Toronto, Canada, and incorporated in Indiana in 2013, said Lia Reich, the company’s senior communications director. It employs about 50 staffers between three offices in Noblesville, Ind.; Toronto; and Raleigh, N.C.

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PrecisionHawk website:

PrecisionHawk video:

Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.:

Innovate Indiana Fund:

Indiana Innovation Awards:

Centric, Indy’s Innovation Network:

Lancaster Hawkeye Mark III launch:

Ken Green:

Pat Lohman and key PrecisionHawk team members:

Day of Innovation: