Oklahoma Innovation Model seeded invention of ‘Socket-less Socket’ for prosthetics

Jay Martin discusses his prosthetic invention during OCAST interview in 2018

In a recent appearance on the Innovate That podcast hosted by Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell,  Oklahoma City inventor and entrepreneur Jay Martin told how his work with NASA inspired his company’s prosthetic innovation known as the Socket-less Socket.

Listen to the entire podcast sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) and hear Jay describe his work on NASA exoskeleton designs and how it carried over to his own company, Martin Bionics.

A recap of Jay’s comments that I wrote appeared in the March 17 edition of the Journal Record. (subscription required)

However, space limitations for that article prevented inclusions of several comments Jay made about the impact OCAST and the Oklahoma Innovation Model have had on his prosthetic design work over the years.

I thought they shed some light on how critical state support of innovators like Jay can be, so I’m posting his comments in this blog.

Prosthetics displayed at Martin Bionics

All of these comments are from Jay Martin made during the Innovate That podcast:

Martin on the value of OCAST

If you look back at the history of Martin Bionics, there are several significant pieces in that timeline, in that story line that have OCAST’s name on it. At the very beginning I was practicing clinical prosthetics and had some ideas for some new prosthetic designs and ended up discovering OCAST. I went to every workshop OCAST had. I learned how to write grants, taught myself how to write patents, along with OCAST’s help in some of those workshops, and ended up winning my first OCAST grant, I think, while I was either still in residency or just out of residency. That was really the launching pad for me.

That really shaped the entire trajectory of my career. I ended up winning a number of OCAST grants over the years for technologies we were developing, but the impact to the amputee community has been significant from OCAST funding. And, obviously, Martin Bionics’ growth and trajectory and all of our staff, we can all thank OCAST for so many of those significant pieces of our journey. It’s a great resource we have here in Oklahoma. It’s incredible. I’ve encouraged so many other entrepreneurs to check it out because it has really been lifeblood for us to really accomplish some things that otherwise we would not have been able to.

Martin on the Oklahoma Innovation Model

When I was first starting, I was green. I knew nothing about entrepreneurship, grants, patents or any of that, so I was hungry to find information.

(Editor’s note: The Oklahoma Innovation Model includes OCAST, i2E Inc., the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, the New Product Development Center at Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Catalyst Programs at the University of Oklahoma.)

All of those are incredible resources. Anyone who is young on their journey on entrepreneurship or advancing or creating, they are incredible resources and I’ve always found there are staff members in each of those organizations who are standing by ready to help, ready to answer questions and ready to go to lunch with you and download information. They are there to help us be successful. Absolutely incredible resources.

We have a real gift here in Oklahoma that some other states don’t have.

Why locate Martin Bionics here in Oklahoma?

I was born in Oklahoma, grew up in Norman, worked in Oklahoma City in my adult life. Oklahoma is a great place, and from the standpoint of entrepreneurship, the resources we have, you have OCAST and all those other great organizations there, but in addition to that we have relatively low cost of living, we have really nice people, we have a really progressive city that is amazing. It’s not too big, just the right size. We have rush minutes, not hours. It’s just a great place to raise a family, to live, to work and to play.

There’s enough industry in Oklahoma that there’s really a talented pool of applicants for hiring. So we’ve been able to grow our business compared to the coasts for a fraction of the price.

Watch a video interview OCAST conducted with Jay Martin from 2018:

MaxQ-Oklahoma Blood Institute collaboration launched during pandemic

I like to say that Oklahoma’s life science cluster stretches from Ardmore in the south through Oklahoma City to Stillwater, to Tulsa and on to Ponca City in the north.

Many of the various entities in Oklahoma’s biotech corridor — research, academic and health care — are usually brought together one time a year at the annual BIO International Convention in whatever city  it is held.

Except for 2020, of course.

Like almost every other conference in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the BIO show this year to become a virtual gathering instead of at the San Diego Convention Center.

However, the pandemic couldn’t stop a unique collaboration launched earlier this year between a Stillwater-based company called MaxQ and the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) — the state’s largest blood collection agency.

MaxQ invented a patented cold-storage packaging system that serves hospitals, research institutions and blood banks nationwide. OBI evaluated and began using MaxQ’s MaxPlus tube transport shippers earlier this year to ensure safe transport of critical blood products.

If you’re not familiar with MaxQ, here’s a story I wrote about the company on behalf of OCAST about five years ago.

MaxQ was founded by a team of then-Oklahoma State University students in 2012, and has since gained equity investment led by i2E, along with grant funding from the National Science Foundation. Saravan Kumar is MaxQ’s CEO.

MaxQ also won a $200,000 Oklahoma Applied Research Support grant from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) that supported development of foam insulation technology.

Today, the MaxPlus solutions are used in more than 520 hospitals, Level I trauma centers, emergency medical transport and blood centers globally.

Congratulations to MaxQ for developing an Oklahoma-made product that meets so many needs in the life sciences industry.

Below is a short story I recently received from MaxQ about its collaboration with OBI:

MaxQ, a Stillwater, Oklahoma, cold chain packaging solutions company, partnered with the state’s premier blood collection organization, Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI), to deliver the most advanced blood packaging solutions. Oklahoma Blood Institute is the sixth largest, nonprofit blood collector in America. With 185,000 donors annually, OBI services approximately 230 medical facilities across Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas.

MaxQ, through its dedicated testing lab and validation services, assisted OBI in updating protocols to validate their packaging and shippers used to transport blood products. The collaboration has helped OBI save time and resources.

Through this collaborative relationship and in working with OBI’s operational team, MaxQ carefully studied blood center operations, the journey of a blood unit from a donor to recipient, and the impact of existing packaging solutions. The current industry standard bulky foam and cardboard boxes are heavy, cumbersome to pack and non-sustainable.

Using its proprietary Maxify™ technology, MaxQ developed the MaxPlus family of blood-specific packaging solutions that places donor blood product safety at its core. The smaller, lighter and highly reusable MaxPlus shippers are easy to pack, fully qualified against industry’s stringent standards, and generate significant savings.

The OBI team evaluated and successfully implemented the MaxPlus shippers for transport of donor specimen tubes early this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The entire experience from concept to product delivery was fantastic,” said Carla Bartholomew, OBI Technical Operations Systems analyst. “We were replacing containers that were not very durable and were being replaced at an alarming rate. Enter the MaxQ team and their solution. Now the ubiquitous red tube boxes make me smile every time I see one in the hallway. The guys from MaxQ were very knowledgeable and passionate about transport containers. They listened to our concerns about size and weight and designed a solution tailor made for our needs. I look forward to working with them on future projects.”

The MaxPlus tube transport shippers employed by the major blood centers in the U.S. are quickly evolving as the new industry standard. This collaboration of two Oklahoma based entities is currently solving decades old blood transport challenges globally. The MaxPlus solutions are used today in over 520 hospitals, Level I trauma centers, Emergency medical transport and blood centers globally. Protecting and safely delivering every single unit of donated blood product to patients in need.

About MaxQ
MaxQ is Temperature Controlled Packaging Re-Imagined! Trusted by over 500 hospitals and clinics globally, MaxQ is revolutionizing the shipping of temperature-sensitive investigational drugs and other biologics with advanced breakthroughs in thermal insulation sciences and transparency. Its patented MAXIFYTM technology enables a new category of payload-specific, advanced packaging solutions with unprecedented features, thermal performance, and cost efficiency.  www.packmaxq.com/

OBI Media Inquiries
Contact Heather Browne, Marketing & Media Manager, at 405-419-1330 or heather.browne@obi.org with questions or to schedule an interview.

MaxQ contact:
Shoaib Shaikh
Office: 405 334 5720
Cell: 918 813 2955

Launching pad: Considering the potential of UCO’s Don Betz STEM Center

Michael Carolina, left, OCAST executive director, poses with Dr. Thomas and Carolyn Kupiec in the Don Betz STEM Research and Learning Center on the UCO campus.

I’ve always said that I would love to be involved in a STEM career, except for a few barriers – those being science, technology, engineering and math.

So, I’m content to write about those subjects on behalf of my friends at Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) and i2E, Inc.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t admire an awesome new facility like the Don Betz STEM Research and Learning Center on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.

UCO officially opened the new 57,000-square-foot facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony this past Wednesday. I was among about 200 people fortunate to attend.

After the speeches and the ribbon cutting, we were invited inside to check it out.

The Don Betz Center, named after the current UCO President, features state-of-the-art research and teaching labs for multiple academic disciplines and a striking lecture hall that can accommodate 80 students.

As I wandered the halls taking it all in, I encountered Dr. Thomas Kupiec, CEO of Oklahoma City’s ARL Biopharma and DNA Solutions. He and his wife, Carolyn, were visiting with Michael Carolina, OCAST executive director. I consider them all friends of mine and stopped to chat for a moment.

I knew that Dr. Kupiec was a UCO graduate, earning his undergraduate degrees there, but did not realize how involved he remains with the university. He is a member of the UCO Foundation Board of Trustees, and his Kupiec Family Foundation provided funding for the Betz Center’s lecture hall.

Dr. Kupiec pointed me to the lecture hall just across the corridor from where we were talking, so I walked over to check it out. A sign on the outside wall identified it as the Kupiec Family Foundation Lecture Hall, so I stepped inside.

The lecture hall is breathtaking, with theater style seating, sleek white tables and massive video screens scattered throughout.

The lecture hall also doubles as a storm shelter and is identified as such at the entrance.

The rest of the two-story Betz Center was equally impressive. I saw labs filled with microscopes and chemistry hoods. I toured a teaching facility for nurses that looked like an actual hospital room. I saw large racks of computer servers.

Hanging on the walls in the interior corridor were the original drawings of the building as envisioned by the architects at Elliot & Associates.

The Don Betz Center appears to be a perfect place to launch the next generation of chemists, health care professionals and research scientists for whom science, technology, engineering and math are no barriers.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing about it.

Inside the Kupiec Family Foundation Lecture Hall