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University of Missouri-Columbia professor awarded President’s Award for Economic Development

Award recognizes faculty for distinguished activity in meeting the University of Missouri's goal of serving as an economic engine for the state

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri System Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Graduate Education Leona Rubin today awarded the final of 11 UM System President’s Awards to Hao Li, associate professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Rubin — in front of faculty gathered for a College of Engineering meeting — surprised Li with the President’s Award for Economic Development, which includes a $5,000 award. The award recognizes faculty for distinguished activity in meeting the University of Missouri's goal of serving as an economic engine for the state through entrepreneurial innovation.  

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the University of Missouri System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university.

President’s Award for Economic Development
Hao Li, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Hao Li, associate professor in the MU Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is the co-founder and president of Nanova, Inc. His company, founded in 2008, produces dental and medical devices based on bicomposite and non-thermal plasma technologies. These products have grown out of Li’s and other professors’ research being conducted at MU.

Thanks to Li’s efforts, the company is well-financed by venture capital firms and federal grants, including several from the National Institutes of Health. Nanova plans to launch its first FDA approved medical device products this year. The firm is expanding rapidly, and with that is boosting the local economy. The company is currently building a 6,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Columbia and expects to create 20 jobs by the end of 2015.

Li’s research and entrepreneurship takes advantage of the strong resources offered by the UM System’s medical schools, dental school, veterinary school and engineering departments. He has sought out successful research partnerships to establish the university as an incubator for medical solutions and devices.

In addition, Li provides advice and resources to support other economic development initiatives at MU and in Columbia. He helped develop a startup business handbook for the Engineering Department and offers business planning, commercialization planning and SBIR grant writing to aid other faculty entrepreneurial activities. He also uses his broad network to introduce investing firms to university faculty and local companies.

“Dr. Li effectively demonstrates his passion for interdisciplinary research and capability of applying the research results to help improve others’ life quality as well as to make an impact in the business world,” one nominator wrote. 

Li has enhanced local and state economic development through his research at MU. Thanks to wise planning and investing, he and Nanova are poised to continue to do so for many years into the future.



Reviewed 2014-05-01