Quality Electrodynamics won a national award for technology innovation from the Small Business Administration.
CEO Hiroyuki Fujita is visiting Washington, D.C., Tuesday to receive the Tibbetts Award, which typically goes to companies that have received grants from the SBA and go on to develop technology that creates a big economic impact.
The Mayfield Village, Ohio-based imaging company, which designs and makes advanced coils and electronics for magnetic resonance imaging machines, has certainly done that. Founded in 2006, Quality Electrodynamics, also known as QED, has 72 employees, and that number is expected to reach between 100 and 110 by the end of the year, Fujita said.
The company’s technology is lauded for creating clearer images in medical scans, which can help doctors better diagnose disease.
Late last year, QED was approved for a state tax credit on a headquarters expansion project that will help accommodate its expected hiring binge.
Sales have grown steadily, too, though Fujita declined to disclose QED’s annual figures. He said revenue has grown 2,300 percent since the company’s first year, and that the company is profitable.
Another point of pride for Fujita is that QED has never taken any investor cash or bank debt to fuel its growth. The company has received about $4 million in development grants, which includes funding from the SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Fujita called the SBIR funding “a cornerstone of our business development.”
The SBA gives out a maximum of 60 Tibbetts Awards per year, according to its website. The award is named for Roland Tibbetts, who the SBA calls “the father” of the SBIR program. The award was created in the late 1990s, suspended in 2002 due to SBA budget cuts, and revived in 2006, according to the SBA.
Fujita’s next challenge
Not content to be operating a company in just one high-growth industry (healthcare), Fujita has decided to jump into another: clean energy. Last year, he founded eQED, a company that will manufacture and distribute solar micro-inverters. Micro-inverters are used to convert direct current from solar panels to alternating current for the power grid.
Fujita said eQED is still developing its inverters, but has a customer lined up and expects to begin manufacturing this summer. Both QED and eQED will operate out of the same Mayfield Village headquarters.
A native of Osaka, Japan, Fujita started QED during a one-year stint as director of imaging physics at Case Western Reserve University. He’s also the former director of engineering for GE Healthcare.
The Tibbetts Award is far from the first national recognition that QED has garnered. In 2009, Forbes magazine chose QED as the highest-ranked medical device company on its America’s Most Promising Companies list. Last year, Fujita was named regional 2010 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (PDF) in the category of Northeast Ohio industrial manufacturing, and QED was ranked among the nation’s 500 fastest-growing companies by Inc. Magazine.