An interview with MITO Material Solutions' CEO, Haley Marie Keith

MITO Materials Solutions logo imageMITO Material Solutions, a U.S-based nano-additive solutions provider, recently received $1.1 million for product development funding from the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant program (SBIR) and the State of Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Center for Advanced Science and Technology (OCAST) program.

MITO aims to use these funds to continue with their push to manufacture hybrid nanoadditives that enable composite manufacturers to create lighter, tougher, and more durable products for the automotive, wind energy, aerospace, and transportation industries. MITO's CEO, Haley Marie Keith, was kind enough to chat with us and answer our questions.

Q: So, let's start with a short introduction! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and MITO?

A: My husband Kevin and I founded MITO Material Solutions in 2016. I am a natural innovator with a solid business background and strong ties back to manufacturing and service. Kevin is an engineer by trade and is passionate about integrating new technology into existing products. Together we discovered a product that blended both of our strengths and created a company.

Q: We heard there's a good story behind MITO's beginning. Would you like to share it?

A: I started my MBA at Oklahoma State University and stumbled upon this technology during my very first class. The professor and inventor, Ranji Vaidyanathan, had approved it to be used in a business class where interdisciplinary students would interview industries and conceptualize a commercialization strategy for the technology. No one expected it to become a company, but the Kevin and I validated the market concept, winning $161,000 from business plan competitions and received an additional $70,000 from grant organizations to continue to product research. In December 2017, we both graduated and started working on MITO full-time, moving the company into its first lab in January 2018.

Q: What are the main activities MITO is currently engaged in? In what stage are they?

A: MITO is currently scaling and selling our flagship product to resin and composite manufacturers for beta testing and identifying opportunities for early stage pilot engagements. With this new funding, MITO will begin exploring new hybrid variations and begin scaling the most commercially viable products.

Q: What is MITO currently focused on with its products/R&D, and what is the expansion potential?

A: Our primary goal at MITO Material Solutions is to build a more durable future. MITO’s R&D will focus on crafting a suite of additives to enhance various mechanical and thermal properties of thermoset composites and eventually expand into thermoplastics.

Q: Could you elaborate on your work from the graphene standpoint? As far as you can share - which materials are used, why were they chosen and what do they contribute?

A: When evaluating nanofillers and resin additives, we saw favorable thermal and toughness properties from other carbon based products, however they didn’t seem easy to integrate into the industry’s manufacturing techniques. MITO’s inventor chose Graphene-oxide because it has more surface area and adherence points than nanotubes and had demonstrated thermal and mechanical property enhancements. Combining graphene oxide with a technology like POSS allowed MITO to take the best parts of both chemistries and create the first hybrid nanoadditive that reactively disperses (without agglomeration) throughout thermosets making it easy to integrate at a 0.1% wt.

Q: What are the main markets/industries MITO hopes to contribute to with its composites/additives?

A: MITO Material Solutions hopes to create cross-functional, affordable, and impactful additives for a variety of industries including wind energy, marine, automotive, and aerospace.

Q: Where do you see MITO in five years?

A: You can expect to see MITO Material Solutions grow significantly over the next five years. Our additives will be used in products across the marketplace as we work to solve the industries biggest problems with nano-sized solutions.

Posted: Sep 08,2019 by Roni Peleg