Mines News

Release Date Monday, October 5, 2020

South Dakota Mines Spinoff Company Acquired in First Ever Deal for University Sponsored Innovation

Dr. Todd Menkhaus, a co-founder of Nanopareil LLC, holds a sample of the revolutionary nanofiber filter material that was synthesized in the company’s research facility on the campus of South Dakota Mines.


Gamma Biosciences has announced that it acquired South Dakota Mines’ spinoff company Nanopareil, LLC.  

Nanopareil was founded on the campus of South Dakota Mines thanks to National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research. Nanopareil produces revolutionary filters that have a range of biopharmaceutical applications including significantly reducing the cost and manufacturing time for lifesaving vaccines and medicines. The company will keep its current facility in Rapid City. 

Gamma Biosciences is a life sciences tools platform created by KKR. Gamma's mission is to build a leading player in next-generation bioprocessing for advanced therapies by acquiring high-potential businesses with outstanding technology and accelerating their growth.

“This might be the first time a product developed by research at a South Dakota university has seen an acquisition of this magnitude and importance,” says Joseph Wright, the associate vice president for research and economic development. “This would be a big deal for any major research university, but for a smaller school like South Dakota Mines, it’s virtually unprecedented. This demonstrates that Mines researchers can be world leaders in research and innovation.” 

This story of success begins in 2006, when NSF saw promise in the work of South Dakota Mines’ professors Todd Menkhaus, Ph.D. and Hao Fong, Ph.D. NSF funded their research into potential uses for polymer nanofibers that are one thousand times smaller than human hair. Fong and Menkhaus found that by spraying nanofibers into multiple layered mats, they could create a new type of filter material that reduces the costs of purifying vaccines and medications so that they are more accessible and more economical around the globe.

By 2011, realizing the commercial potential for their new product, Menkhaus and Fong formed a company now named Nanopareil, LLC to help carry their innovation into the marketplace. In 2014, NSF awarded them a Small Business Innovation Research grant, and the company won the South Dakota Governor’s Giant Vision Awards. In 2017, Nanopareil was named the Buzz of BIO at the BIO International Convention and took first place in the Technologies of Tomorrow competition. By 2019, Nanopareil moved into the Ascent Innovation building, Rapid City’s high-tech business incubator, and expanded to a second lab in Sioux Falls to further their product research and development. 

Gamma Biosciences will operate Nanopareil as part of its existing subsidiary, Astrea Bioseparations. The acquisition assures further success in the marketplace for the revolutionary products developed by Nanopareil. In a company press release, Gamma Biosciences states that “Gamma plans to invest substantially in further productization and technology development, application development and customer support as it establishes Nanopareil as a key platform within Astrea's growing range of products.” Craig Arnold, CEO of Nanopareil, LLC, says, "The Astrea team has a strong track record of bringing innovative new products to the market. With their leadership and capabilities, Nanopareil will be well positioned to become the next-generation market leader."

“For many years, university officials have been touting the potential for research at Mines to launch innovative ideas to the global marketplace and simultaneously transform the local economy in the Black Hills with an influx of high paying tech jobs. It’s a delight to see this success unfold in front of our eyes today,” says Mines President Jim Rankin.  

“Achievements like this are thanks to the ongoing work of our many partners,” Rankin adds. “In addition to our government and industry partners, Elevate Rapid City and Ascent Innovation deserve high praise for fostering economic development and providing resources for high tech start-ups like Nanopareil.”

Rankin says the ecosystem of entrepreneurship now thriving in the Black Hills will continue to yield more success stories with ongoing investment in research and development at Mines.     



About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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