Starters

Probiotic pioneer to grow new businesses

Dr. Dash commits $1 million to build entrepreneurship in low income areas

By By Bruce Corrie

Long before probiotics became a household name, Sita Dash, PhD, a New American entrepreneur, began groundbreaking work on manufacturing a robust probiotic strain in 1979. He completed his doctorate at South Dakota State University in 1973 and served as director of South Dakota’s Food and Drug Administration. Like every successful innovator, he saw a connection between two unrelated areas and launched both the research and manufacturing of probiotics for human consumption. The growth of his company, UAS Labs, paralleled and fueled the growth of the probiotic movement from a $10 million industry to one that today is worth more than $35 billion.

Over the past two years, I have worked closely with him as he pursues his new passion — helping to build Minnesota and the country as a whole through entrepreneurship. He is committing $1 million to invest in businesses that will bring in jobs and economic development, especially in low-income areas. He is also looking invest in a food manufacturing business that could benefit from his expertise as well as the three research centers he has established in South Dakota, Nebraska and India. Details about this initiative will be announced soon. To this end, he has spent a lot of time exploring options and is close to launching this effort.

At the same time, Dr. Dash is a strong advocate of the community, whether supporting shelters for battered women, or launching the Asian Institute for Public Health in India, or supporting a wide range of individuals and organizations from the largest Hindu temple in the nation located in Maple Grove, to the India Association of Minnesota. He was the chief sponsor for the first Non-Violence Day in 2016 — an effort to celebrate the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and the important role for nonviolent solutions in our increasingly polarized world. He is a strong supporter of art and cultural activities in the Indian community, with efforts such as being a major supporter of the Beyond Bollywood exhibit at the Minnesota History Center.

Dr. Dash feels strongly for the need to strengthen the voice of New Americans in the policy area and has been connecting with community leaders on ways to do this.

Dr. Dash’s work continues to garner local, national and global accolades. The President of India recently awarded him a special recognition. In October, the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans recognized him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

It is tough to describe Dr. Dash: Innovator. Entrepreneur. Philanthropist. Activities in these areas take up 20 hours a day and he does this all while constantly traveling across the world, primarily focused on his philanthropic activities. However, there is one quality I especially admire in Dr. Dash — his strong desire to give back and build the community.