MU professors’ startup creates product that whitens teeth with a smartphone

Novashine not only increases whitening efficacy but lessens sensitivity with an LED tray that lights up when plugged into a smartphone.

Nanova Biomaterials Inc., a dental and orthopedics manufacturing startup company founded by two MU professors and colleagues, has created a new product that whitens teeth with the use of a smartphone.

The product, Novashine, was developed by PlasmaDent, an affiliate of the original company, Nanova Inc. Founded in 2007, the company was started by four researchers, two of whom are professors Hao Li and Qingsong Yu of the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at the MU College of Engineering.

“We applied the technology and knowledge we have always been trying to develop a better product,” Li said, who is also Nanova’s CEO.

Novashine consists of a specially formulated gel that is applied to the inside of a plastic tray. The LED tray lights up when plugged into a computer or smartphone and is meant to be applied to the teeth for 15 to 30 minutes each use. The gel uses only 6 percent hydrogen peroxide, making it 100 percent safe for enamel, according to Novashine’s website.

“We developed this teeth whitening gel with less sensitivity and better whitening performance,” senior scientist Xiaoqing Dong said. Dong joined the company after working in Yu’s lab at MU.

Li said a focus of Nanova is improving the lives of Columbia residents, including students of the many colleges nearby.

“We create jobs here, we provide internships for Mizzou students and students from other universities, we provide funding and we also donate some money for research,” Li said.

Li received the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program award for his work in 2009. After envisioning Nanova Inc., he brought together Yu as well as Nanova chief scientist Meng Chen, an MU associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and orthopedic doctor Kenneth Lambert to aid in founding the company.

Since its conception, Yu said Nanova Inc. has grown to encompass over 50 employees, three buildings and three main focuses. Li said these include the development of medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the company addresses environmental protection through Nanova Environmental, which works to advance environmental monitoring.

“Since we have started, the core team has raised about $10 million for research and over $30 million in venture capital investment,” Li said. “[Nanova Inc.] may make some contributions to the economic development of Columbia.”

Yi Gan, recent MU graduate with a master’s in business administration, said working as a marketing manager at Nanova has allowed her to explore every area of her passion for entrepreneurship, including speaking at local business events.

“We do a lot of things. We design the product, we do market research, we launch the product, everything; I really like it,” Gan said.

Currently selling Novashine for $59.99 on both the Novashine website and Amazon, Dong said PlasmaDent plans to eventually have its product on the shelves of Walgreens, Walmart and other retail stores. MU students, faculty and alumni can receive 10 percent off their purchase on the Novashine website by using the promotional code Fall2017.

Nanova Biomaterials Inc. has also produced and sold products such as dental filling composites, fluoride varnish and teeth whitening gel.

In previous years, the company has received attention for its trademark plasma brush, the first of it’s kind to make cavity fillings longer lasting and nearly painless.

“Our slogan is ‘Better life through innovation,’” Li said. “We want to solve clinical problems and improve the health care of people; I think that’s kind of our goal.”

Edited by Olivia Garrett | ogarrett@themaneater.com

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