Helping people to stand on their own two feet
Each month the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership profiles Georgians who are involved in manufacturing
Kurt Jacobus, pictured in the foreground, and Ken Gall, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, are principals in MedShape, an Atlanta-based startup that utilizes proprietary shape memory technology used in surgical procedures of the foot to fix injuries. Jacobus is CEO; Gall is chief technology officer.
By any measure, creating a thriving and viable startup business based on years of research can be viewed as a success.
But for Ken Gall and Kurt Jacobus, company principals of Atlanta-based MedShape, success takes on a deeper meaning: helping people to stand on their own two feet.
MedShape uses proprietary shape memory technology used in surgical procedures of the foot to fix injuries.
“To create a company from the ground up is special,” says Gall, MedShape’s chief technology officer. “But to create a product that allows candidates for amputation the ability to walk again is extremely powerful.”
Gall and Jacobus, the company’s CEO, are the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s (GaMEP) March Faces of Manufacturing.
The initiative highlights the state’s manufacturing industry, which employs 365,000 and is an important sector of the Georgia economy. The Faces of Manufacturing shows that companies have an economic impact not only on the communities they serve but also in the lives of the people they touch, from employees to customers.
Gall and Jacobus originally met in the early 1990s at the University of Illinois, where both were studying mechanical engineering.
While there and working in the same lab, they discovered a mutual interest in materials science. After Jacobus went to another laboratory, Gall continued to further their research into new materials and the possibilities for medical use applications.
The two reconnected in 2005 when Gall took a teaching position at Georgia Tech's School of Materials Science and Engineering, where he continued his new materials lab research.
Gall founded MedShape through VentureLab, a Georgia Tech incubator that helps Institute faculty, staff, and students take ideas from lab to market. He brought Jacobus on as CEO.
In the 10 years since its founding, MedShape has created six products and projects, launching two new devices each year for the next several years.
But the benchmarks most important to them are how they have helped people, such as a diabetic patient who faced the amputation of her foot because two previous surgeries on her diseased ankle were deemed ineffective. The patient’s research led her to MedShape and one of its products that allowed her to not only keep her foot but also walk again.
“The exciting part about that for us is that these products actually do improve lives and the human condition every day,” Jacobus says. “And that’s the part we take very seriously and I think we’re proudest of.”
By Péralte C. Paul