UCF Business Incubation Program client looking for public and private partners for phase 2 pilot project

Orlando, Fla. (January 3, 2023) – With the backing of the U.S. Department of Transportation and its Volpe Center, a local tech company is developing a set of new applications designed to address food deserts throughout the country.

S+M, a client of the Research Park Incubator, has just finished work on phase 1 stage of a federal grant and has started planning to work on phase 2. The combined phases include $1 million in funding from the grant.

“This grant certainly was an essential part of getting this product to the people who need it, people who currently do not have great access to food sources,” says Sam Mahdavian, co-founder and CEO, S+M. “Now, we have a great opportunity to impact the lives of individuals in our community with the backing of the U.S. DoT and Volpe Center.”

The new program has two segments.

First, is a Web APP, as a planning feature to be used by governments, non-profits, and other entities wanting to map food deserts, which are defined as areas with limited access to supermarkets or other sources of healthy foods.

The United States Department of Agriculture has identified more than 6,500 such places throughout the country.

By using this program, the entities can select the boundary to investigate the status related to social equity, grocery store availability, and transportation equity and availability.

Then, the program will give users the ability to find the optimal food-to-people and people-to-food transportation options to invest in areas that need to face the lowest accessibility score to fresh-healthy food.

The second part of the project is a consumer-facing mobile app that allows residents located in food deserts to find the resources they need, such as transportation and online shopping, combined with learning about healthy food and nutrition and the ability to check their nutritional ingredients intake.

“Food deserts have a direct correlation to the health of the residents living in those areas, increasing the rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more,” Mahdavian says. “While there are many programs available to provide food for lower income individuals, there is a significant issue when the only choices within walking distance are convenience stores and fast food.”

Under the project’s next phase, S+M is planning to work with local governments and non-profits to provide these tools to areas within Central Florida the program has identified as food deserts.

Mahdavian started S+M in 2021 after a lengthy career as a data scientist, including at the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science. The company is supported by more than 22 data scientists and transportation engineers throughout the country. It currently employs four people with ten contractors.

The grant with the U.S. DoT is just one facet of the company, housed under the “connected communities” division of S+M, which also works on low emissions and sustainability engineering, along with transportation safety.

“What Sam is working on is a perfect example of the smart cities cluster we’re working to create at the UCF Business Incubation Program and it is impressive what they have already accomplished,” says Carol Ann Logue, director, programs & operations, Innovation Districts & Incubation Program, University of Central Florida. “

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For more information, media should contact –

Sam Mahdavian, Ph.D., PMP, PBA,  S+M, 407-808-3580, sam@s-plus-m.ai

Carol Ann Dykes Logue, UCF Business Incubation Program, 407-207-7426, Carolann.dykeslogue@ucf.edu

Alan Byrd, Alan Byrd & Associates, 407-415-8470, Alan@ByrdConnections.com

About S+M: SplusM LLC is a tech startup offering cutting-edge mobility Digital Solutions & Products. With our highly skilled team of scientists & engineers in smart mobility, artificial intelligence, & software development, we develop Decision-making Apps, Mobile Apps, & other Digital Solutions to achieve Mobility for ALL, Carbon Neutrality, & Zero Crashes. We started our journey upon the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. For more information, visit s-plus-m.ai

About the UCF Business Incubation Program: The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.

With eight facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. For the 2017/2018 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 6,725 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned more than $12.00 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. In addition, for every $1.00 of public investment the firms also produced $118 of additional regional GDP and $226 of regional sales. For more information, visit  www.incubator.ucf.edu.