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HyperTech rides superconducting material toward new MRI markets

Michael Tomsic calls his Columbus-based HyperTech "a poster child" for how the Ohio Third Frontier should work. Not only has his company benefited from numerous state and federal grants, but since 2005 has increased employment from two to 25.

Tomsic says HyperTech is one of two companies in the world working to commercialize magnesium diboride wires, a superconducting material that could eliminate the need for high-cost helium baths needed to keep magnetic resonance imagers cool. The other is located in Genoa, Italy, and named, ironically, Columbus Superconducting.

In 2001, the company won an $800,000 grant from the Ohio Technology Action Fund to demonstrate that the magnesium-boron compound could be made into a useful wire.

"That was first major funding anywhere around the world to actually try to commercialize this magnesium diboride," says Tomsic, HyperTech's president.

That project helped paved the way for a three-year, $5-million Third Frontier research and commercialization grant in 2009, which in turn has helped HyperTech strengthen its collaboration with Siemens, Philips and General Electric -- who Tomsic says "have 95 percent of the MRI magnet market" -- as well as with the Ohio State University Wright Center of Innnovation in Biomedical Imaging and the OSU Center for Superconducting and Magnetic Materials.

Along the way, the company has garnered more than $18 million in federal funds to continue to improve the performance of magnesium diboride wire for MRI companies.

While most of HyperTech's focus today is on MRIs, Tomsic says the wires have great potential for upgrading and protecting electric power grids. In anticipation of further growth, the company moved into a 45,000 square foot facility in February.

Source: Michael Tomsic, HyperTech
Writer: Gene Monteith

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