UA startup places second overall

Lauren Lane

The University of Alabama is home to more than a dozen startup companies that span across multiple fields of study. Some of these include 2b Electronic, whose main focus is on providing more affordable and portable EMG devices to the consumer and 525 Solutions, whose mission is to reduce the side effects of diseases by providing natural ingredients instead of synthetic.

However, among all of these companies founded at the University, one has been receiving particular interest and acclaim.

Last month, Surface Integrity, LLC., a company that is developing degradable medical implants, finished second at an international innovation conference, The International Innovation in Materials Science Competition in Boston, Massachusetts. After two phases of elimination, 26 finalists competed and Surface Integrity placed second overall.

Finalists in the competition are provided with a platform for technology providers across the whole spectrum of the science, engineering, mathematics and technology departments at universities across the country, which allows small startup companies to have a voice in their 
respective fields.

Surface Integrity’s technology was developed by a University of Alabama graduate, Michael Sealy, along with a professor of mechanical engineering at UA, Yuebin Guo.

“The idea of using manufacturing to slow the corrosion of a 
magnesium implant was born out of Guo’s own creative thoughts,” Sealy said. “He offered me the chance to work on what I considered the coolest research project a graduate student could have. I was given the chance to study how manufacturing processes can revolutionize the procedure for treating orthopedic 
bone fractures.”

Sealy said using his degree to solve medical problems became personal for him when he had two screws inserted into his elbows as a child. Thanks to his own developments, he said he may be able to avoid having get a 
second surgery.

“We use a degradable material, magnesium, that has sufficient properties for orthopedic applications but degrades too fast in the human body,” Guo said. “In order to show and control the degradation, we use surface treatments to alter the surface of the implant and slow down the rate of degradation. Our proprietary technology is in knowing how to use these surface treatments to 
get the desired degradation rate.”

Guo said the goal for Surface Integrity is to become a fully self-supporting entity that is a bright spot for the biomedical industry 
in Alabama.

“Perhaps most importantly, it is our goal to show that we can commercialize our research and use it as job creator in Alabama,” Guo said.