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BIO Innovation Zone Company Snapshot: Nanofiber Separations

May 13, 2015
Next month in Philadelphia at the BIO International Convention, BIO will be partnering with the National Science foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to host the 2nd annual, newly-expanded BIO Innovation Zone. The Zone will feature Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funded early-stage biotech companies.

The SBIR/STTR program provides U.S. federal funding to small businesses engaged in research with the potential for commercialization. Each of the companies has been rigorously vetted through the SBIR/STTR review process prior to receiving the non-dilutive funding to engage in R&D that has the potential for commercialization. The NIH and NSF invest a combined $940 million annually in the programs.

Today, we spoke with Craig Arnold, the CEO of Dakota Dunes, South Dakota-based Nanofiber Separations, a biotechnology company supported by NSF’s SBIR program.

What is your company’s lead product or technology? 

Nanofiber Separations, LLC produces hybrid nanofiber materials that greatly enhance production throughput, reduce energy consumption, reduce waste generation, reduce materials consumption, improve product consistency and quality, and streamline operations within a variety of industries. Our nanofiber membranes and 3D nanofiber scaffolds, with multiple pending patents, are designed to increase efficiencies and economics in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, tissue engineering, forensic evaluations, water purification (industrial and personal), air purification (industrial and personal), blood and blood products, biorefinery separations, as well as aerospace structures.  The advanced hybrid nanofibrous materials will revolutionize separation operations and provide easy access to clean and safe end products such as pharmaceuticals, blood, water, and air.  Within the tissue engineering/organ regeneration market, nanofiber separations produces 3-dimensional nanofiber scaffolds allowing for improved cell viability, more efficient nutrient transport and overall greatly enhanced rates of tissue formation.  

How has theNSF SBIR program helped your company grow? 

             The NSF SBIR program has provided resources allowing our company to grow through several mechanisms.  First, we have successfully scaled-up the nanofiber production process for all of our unique materials, with plans for continuous manufacturing.  We have also had the opportunity to work with several strategic partners and customers for multiple cycles of product evaluation.  With this, we have successfully optimized our materials to provide enhanced customer features to significantly out-perform other commercial products.  The program has also provided resources allowing us to work closely with business development experts in different industries, which has provided valuable market research, networking connections, and development and execution of a comprehensive business plan that includes many different applications and markets for the nanofiber materials. 

What are the upcoming milestones and long-term priorities for your company? 

The company has developed a strategy to quickly generate revenue, continue product development in multiple applications, and implement a flexible full-scale manufacturing process for nanofiber materials.  Upcoming milestones anticipated include:

  • Complete detailed design specifications for full-scale manufacturing systems, with initial production and testing of key components;

  • Complete product design and process optimization for production of separation modules needed for biopharmaceutical purifications, along with customer and strategic partner evaluations;

  • Complete product design and process optimization for production of separation modules needed for water purification application, along with customer and strategic partner evaluations;

  • Complete product design and process optimization for tissue engineering/organ regeneration scaffolds, along with customer and strategic partner evaluations;

  • Expand revenue generation for both research and development grade materials, as well industry specific products through joint development, licensing and direct sales;

  • Complete first round of financing.

Longer-term priorities for the company include continuing to work with strategic partners and customers for product design and process optimization for nanofiber materials in forensic testing, lightweight composites, and many other industries where our materials have been explored.  The company will continue to exploit its strengths and expertise in research, development and manufacturing of nanofiber materials to expand our diverse intellectual property portfolio and quickly bring to market unique solutions to complex, customer-driven problems. 

What do you hope to gain out of your participation at the 2015 BIO International Convention? 

  • Build customer relationships

  • Spread knowledge about the opportunities available for working with and/or purchasing Nanofiber Separations materials

  • New strategic partners

 Tell us something about your company that investors might not know.

Nanofiber Separations won the 2014 South Dakota Governor’s Giant Vision Business Plan Competition.  To date, the company has received multiple highly competitive grant awards totaling over $2.3 million.  Nanofiber Separations is a pre-capital company with modest revenues and is eligible for more than $750,000 of additional non-dilutive funding through the NSF SBIR program, along with approximately $2 million in pending proposals for new grants/contracts.