Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
It’s a challenge to transport blood. The same is true for donor organs and tissue.
Blood and other biomaterials are very sensitive to changes in temperature. Industry standard packaging solutions provide limited insulation capacity, low impact-resistance, and are prone to heating or freezing; shippers are continually seeking proven packaging solutions that reduce loss of contents, reduce the costs per unit shipped, and are more “green.”
A team of scientist/entrepreneurs in Stillwater, with comprehensive functional expertise in applied biomedical engineering, materials science, chemistry, and architecture, have invented a solution.
Their startup — MaxQ Research — provides packaging systems that are specially designed to hold and transfer refrigerated, controlled room temperature, or frozen biological materials, such as packed red blood cells, whole blood, platelets, or plasma, as well as tissue specimen and organs. The Max+ Shippers hold more volume, have superior insulation properties, and offer higher impact resistance.
MaxQ Research originally was founded to commercialize a core insulation technology that founders thought could be used in aerospace applications to insulate cube satellites. The company has been in business for four years.
“We wrote a proposal to NASA seeking applied research funds,” said Saravan Kumar, CEO. “They reviewed it and said the market was too small, with only 50 to 60 cube satellites launched each year. But they gave us validation for the technology and suggested that we look into terrestrial applications such as shipping of temperature-sensitive products, like pharmaceuticals. Something as simple as that steered us to where we are today.”
Heeding the NASA feedback, MaxQ’s passionate and coachable entrepreneurs pivoted to biomedical transport packaging — a larger market with a bigger opportunity to scale.
MaxQ secured Venturewell E-team grants through a program that provides funding to student STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) innovators to help them move their inventions in the marketplace.
MaxQ successfully bootstrapped research and growth, using Phase I and II Small Business Innovation Research funding from the National Science Foundation and competitive applied research funds from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.
The company’s packaging solutions already are used by 25 U.S. hospitals, three blood banks and one hospital in Canada. They have established scalable manufacturing operations in Stillwater, and are mapping out a network of national and global distributors.
“Our goal is to reduce costs and improve efficiency in handling temperature-sensitive critical biological materials that can have a positive impact in saving lives,” Kumar said. “We also are committed to expanding the research and manufacturing capabilities of Oklahoma.”
Coachable entrepreneurs. Bootstrapping. Leveraging competitive state and national innovative research funding. Creating jobs and building advanced manufacturing capacity in Oklahoma. Scientific innovation with the potential to save and improve the quality of lives.
This is exactly the kind of return Oklahoma wants on its investment in innovative entrepreneurs.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.