$750K NSF Grant Puts Mobius Labs on Commercialization Course for Leaky-Fixture-Fighting AI Tech

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Mobius Labs, Inc., an Internet-of-Things developer, has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for phase II product development supporting the planned commercialization of its FirstDrops™ water-leak detection product. The Albany startup expects commercial sales of the product to begin as early as the end of this year. Last month, Mobius Labs received the Center for Economic Growth’s Technology Innovation Award at its 23rd Annual Technology Awards.   

Local Tech Testing 

FirstDrops™ is designed to help owners of high occupancy buildings identify leaks before they turn into major problems with significant costs. A large number of the FirstDrops™ products are currently being demonstrated and operated in local apartment complexes and commercial buildings as well as Marriott, Hilton, Hampton Inn and Doubletree hotels.  

FirstDrops™ is an Internet-of-Things device coupled with artificial intelligence and advanced software to identify leaks and quickly notify building managers. Across the Capital Region, Mobius is operating devices to demonstrate reliability and generate the data needed to prove the product’s strong value proposition to future customers. The longer the device is used, the more its proprietary software learns about the plumbing and fixtures, making it possible to predict leaks and plan maintenance before leaks occur. Current testing suggests that owners can significantly reduce water and sewer expenses, and avoid uncontrolled costs for damage repairs and remediation. Other benefits include improved occupancy rates and reduced guest complaints.  

From Water Waste to Conservation 

Fresh water is becoming ever more expensive and scarcer. The water processing infrastructure of U.S. cities is aging and increasingly expensive to operate.  Population shift is causing some cities to increase rates over 200% in the last 15 years. FirstDropsTM can save fresh water and decrease operating costs all with an attractive return on investment. This product has the potential to impact millions of people in the short term and create smarter plumbing and buildings in the long term.  

“The market needed this product yesterday. Our technology is ready to provide the solution to our customers,” said Karl Appel, Mobius Labs’ co-founder and a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute alumnus.  


The NSF award, a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, will allow Mobius Labs to continue its research and development on the device and software, as well as work with leading researchers in world-class academic institutions. The startup was also awarded a $225,000 Phase I NSF grant to support initial product R&D in June of 2017. 

“The National Science Foundation supports small businesses with the most innovative, cutting-edge ideas that have the potential to become great commercial successes and make huge societal impacts,” said Andrea Belz, director of the NSF’s Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships. “We hope that this seed funding will spark solutions to some of the most important challenges of our time across all areas of science and technology.” 

America’s Seed Fund, run by the NSF, awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $1.5 million to support research and development, helping reduce technology risk for commercial success.  

America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $7.8 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. 

To learn more about America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, visit: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/  

Contact: To learn more about the FirstDrops™ product, email: Julia Parks at sales@mobius-labs.com  

About CEG 

The Center for Economic Growth (CEG) is the Capital Region’s primary regional economic development organization, with over 250 investors in business, government, education, and the not-for-profit sectors. CEG is a New York Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology and Innovation-designated Regional Technology Development Center and an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). For more information, visit www.ceg.org 



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