Biotech company makes Sioux Falls its headquarters
Biotech company Inanovate Inc. has named Sioux Falls its official headquarters and anticipates its operations in the city will increase in the next two years.
It recently was awarded a $2.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help advance a testing process for detecting cancer.
“We’re developing a test for analyzing small blood samples for diagnosing cancer, and our first application is for diagnosing breast cancer,” said David Ure, founder and CEO of Inanovate.
Inanovate has offices in the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship in Sioux Falls and at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. In addition, the company has a partnership with Sanford Research, where researchers also are working in the area of breast cancer.
The company, which uses the tagline “opening doors to a smaller world,” wants to raise an additional $2 million in investments to help expand operations in Sioux Falls and meet timeline goals, said Ure, who manages the company remotely from Boston. He noted that research and investment support in South Dakota helped the state lure the promising medical venture from one of the nation’s most prominent research areas.
Gary Archamboult, director of the Small Business Innovation Research program in South Dakota, has worked with the company for years to help it strengthen proposals for grants. Archamboult has worked frequently with Sioux Falls-based Rob Nelson, Inanovate’s chief operating officer.
South Dakota businesses were doing hardly any grant-funded research before 2013, when a National Institutes of Health SBIR/STTR conference was held in Sioux Falls. Since then, Inanovate and two other companies in the state have won $6 million in federal grants, Archamboult said.
“From a business perspective, their technology is really going to speed up analytics. It has to be good for the patient and health care costs,” he said about Inanovate.
Inanovate’s Bio-ID system is a new and better way to screen protein in blood, according to the company. The process uses disposal test cartridges and a bench-top analyzer to rapidly measure the concentration of disease-related molecules in patients’ blood samples. Earlier detection of cancer can lead to earlier treatment and better medical outcomes.
Eventually, medical offices will be able to send patients’ blood samples for testing or buy a system to conduct their own tests. By the end of 2019, the company hopes to have met regulations to process blood samples at a central laboratory in Sioux Falls, Ure said.
The pre-revenue success of the company is a significant plus for the development of research-related businesses in South Dakota, said Archamboult, who also is based at Zeal. “This is really exciting for us.”
Nelson expects a few employees to be added in Sioux Falls as the company’s mission shifts to making equipment and supporting applications. The Bio-ID system represents a significant advance in medical technology, said Nelson, who has worked for Inanovate about four years. “We’ve patented a machine gun when everyone else is using a sniper rifle,” he said.
In a 400-patient trial with Sanford Health, eight of every 10 cancer cases were correctly identified, according to the company.
“If confirmed through our extended trials, such a test will have a significant impact on clinical practice, saving tens of thousands of lives each year and improving the quality of life for millions more,” the company said in a statement.