MU professors’ company Nanova receives $6 million from Chinese investors

The investment will be put toward development of healthcare technology.

Columbia-based technology company Nanova will receive $6 million to produce new dental, orthopedic and cardiovascular products using nanotechnology.

The investment in the company, co-founded by MU Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Hao Li, is the result of an agreement between the City of Columbia, the Jiangsu Wujin Hi-Tech Industrial Zone in China and Chinese-based investment firm Summit View Partners.

MU faculty, Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton, Missouri Fourth Congressional District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Representative Chris Kelly and Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid attended the signing on March 26 at Mark Twain Ballroom.

The funding will be put toward the development of healthcare products, including screws used for orthopedic surgery and a dental brush that could improve the process of sealing cavities.

The investment will be added to the $10 million that the company has already received in funding from other sources.

“The investment will be partially spent in the U.S., partially spent in China,” Li said. “The primary production will be in the U.S., but also possibly some in China, and we may put different things in each place depending on the need of the markets.”

The company originally hoped to have at least one of these products developed by 2010, but the wait may have been a benefit rather than a setback, Li said.

“We are still working on it so there’s a delay, but that delay can be positive since we will get a better product,” Li said. “Definitely, by next year, we should have a medical device cleared by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).”

The Wujin industrial zone, the technological district involved in the agreement, is home to automobile production, electronics manufacturing and new energy industries, according to the district’s website. In 2009, the district had an industrial output of about $12 billion.

Li founded Nanova in 2006 with Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Qingsong Yu. Li said MU was instrumental in the founding of the company, helping the company at its start and licensing technology to them today.

“Without MU there would be no Nanova,” Li said.

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