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COLUMBIA - Nanova Inc. secured $10 million in investments in 2016 and plans to use the money to continue innovating and to add jobs in Columbia. 

Nanova works in developing medical and dental devices, environmental products and pharmaceutical therapies.

The company was started in 2007 by a University of Missouri Engineering Professor Hao Li, along with another faculty member and two other researchers. 

"I’ve been always thinking to make something useful for the society when I was a graduate student, and then after I came to Columbia, I met a few more people who share the same vision with me," Li said. "So basically we wanted to team up to make something useful to the people’s health."

Nanova currently has surgical, dental and orthopedic devices that are cleared by the FDA for clinical use. Some products include a whitening gel, a dental fluoride varnish and a universal dental composite. 

Nanova Director of Regulatory Affairs Andrew Ritts said he thinks Nanova has been successful in gaining investments because of its smart business practices. 

"It’s a mixture of having the right people and also taking the right types of risks when it comes to running a successful business," Ritts said. "You need to always take some sort of a risk, but you need to make sure that the risks that you’re taking are reasonable and are going to be worthwhile."

Ritts said the investments are going toward research and development, FDA approval and marketing.

Nanova currently employs over 40 people, and plans to add around 20 more positions in 2017. 

"We are expecting to have more revenue and probably the additional investments also helps," Li said. "So basically we needed more people to work on manufacturing and marketing and sales."

The University of Missouri also benefits from Nanova expanding.

MU gets a cut of any profit a professor makes through inventions created during university research. 

Wayne McDaniel is the associate director of the Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations at MU, which handles all faculty inventions. 

"Our office, just the Columbia campus, in the last fiscal year brought in about $14.5 million in royalties, and that money gets split between the system, the campus, the department and the inventors," McDaniel said. 

McDaniel said inventions and companies created by MU professors benefit the community.

"Almost $5 million was paid back to inventors as bonus, and the other two thirds of that money gets reinvested in protecting the next generation of intellectual properties," McDaniel said. "So it definitely benefits the university, and then the jobs in Columbia benefit the community as well."

McDaniel said Nanova has not brought in too much revenue yet because it is fairly new, however he fully expects the company to be very profitable within the near future.

I think they’re going to be very successful, I think that they have innovative products, they continue to expand their product line," McDaniel said.  

Ritts said he sees the company expanding even more in the future. 

"I know we’re always working on new projects, new ideas," Ritts said. "Once we get one company up and running and manufacturing and selling, we’re going to move on to focus our time on another set of products."