YEI receives grant

Wayne Allen | Daily Times Thanks to a $44,000 grant from the Fluor B&W Portsmouth Opportunity Fund, YEI Technology was able to expand. Pictured are some of community members at an event Monday.

Wayne Allen | Daily Times
Thanks to a $44,000 grant from the Fluor B&W Portsmouth Opportunity Fund, YEI Technology was able to expand. Pictured are some of community members at an event Monday.

Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in Portsmouth is YEI Technology — manufacturing computer chipsin the basement of the Garage Cafe on Second Street. On Monday the company was ceremoniously awarded a $44,000 grant from the Fluor B&W Portsmouth Opportunity Fund to expand its production of computer sensors.

YEI Technology Chief Executive Officer Francesca Hartop said the computer sensors manufactured in Portsmouth are purchased by a number of clients, including the United States Navy.

“We build sensors that basically quantify how something is moving, rotating, accelerating and stopping,” Hartop said. “You can put these into anything, from UAV’s to robots to medical devices and physical therapy applications. Our PrioVR Gaming suit is a showcase for it.”

According to www.priovr.com, “PrioVR uses high-performance inertial sensors to provide 360 degrees of low-latency, real-time motion tracking without the need for cameras, optics, line-of-sight, or large, awkward equipment.”

She said there are a lot of uses for these sensors.

“Anytime you want to know how something’s moving, basically you want a sensor to do that,” Hartop said.

Hartop said YEI Technology started research started on the sensors about six years ago, with the first products coming out three years ago, and the last year and a half they been working on them.

When asked about their customers, Hartop said, “we have customers in gaming. We sell these to the U.S. Navy, we’re working with a lot of the new drone (manufactures). We’re working with some medical providers who are using it for physical rehabilitation and quantifying a level of illness.”

She said new uses for the sensors are constantly being thought of; even for mattress companies.

“It used to be sensors with fairly high accuracy were expensive and difficult to implement and in the last few years technology has reached a point where the fundamental things, we’re using can be put in consumer devices and inexpensive,” she said.

Hartop was uncertain about production numbers for the sensors, but knew they had $700,000 in sales in 2014.

She said the grant from the Fluor B&W Portsmouth Opportunity Fund, allows YEI Technology to produce the sensor more precisely, with better quality control and at a lower cost.

Jason Kester, executive director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority, worked with YEI Technology on the application.

“If a small business realizes they need some gap funding, we work with them at SOPA to apply to this (Fluor B&W Portsmouth Opportunity Fund) and help them with their application,” Kester said. “The small business has to retain employees or grow their business to be eligible, this is our second (company in Scioto County to receive a grant) and we’ll have a third coming up in a couple of months.”

Jim Morgan, a Fluor B&W Portsmouth Opportunity Fund Representative, said the grant YEI Technology received is what the opportunity fund is all about.

“In July 2009, the (United States) Department of Energy told the companies bidding on the cleanup project (Decontaminating and Decommissioning of the former Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon), they wanted a community commitment plan,” Morgan said.

He said the plan includes charitable giving, educational support and local spending. As a part of the community commitment plan Fluor-B&W Portsmouth devoted five percent of award fee they earn back into the community.

“Of that five percent, 80 percent is targeted towards economic development,” Morgan said. “One of the goals of the community commitment plan is to help businesses.”

For more information about YEI Technology, visit www.yeitechnology.com, and for more information about Fluor B&W Portsmouth visit fbportsmouth.com.

From Portsmouth Daily Times  |  January 20, 2015

By Wayne Allen