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USD TRAC Awarded $600,000 to Aid Entrepreneurial Growth in South Dakota

Two students with laptops in front of them look at another student who is blurred in the photo. They are in conversation and do not look at the camera. The USD Technology Readiness Acceleration Center (TRAC) provides graduate students opportunities to learn how to commercialize innovations, grow entrepreneurship and develop research.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Technology Readiness Acceleration Center (TRAC) received a $600,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support TRAC’s mission to commercialize innovations, grow entrepreneurship and develop research.

The state of South Dakota and USD matched the EDA funds, bringing TRAC’s total award to $1.2 million.

“TRAC bridges the gap in investments between technology in the academic side of research and the commercial side. It provides USD and Sanford researchers opportunities to see their research move from the laboratory into the market,” said Daniel Engebretson, Ph.D., vice president for research and sponsored programs. “This awards allows USD to offer TRAC fellowships to more students and expand our reach across multiple sectors.”

In collaboration with Sanford Health, USD established TRAC this fall to create a pipeline of entrepreneurs and pathways to building businesses and jobs around research commercialization in the region.

The center also provides competitive stipends to graduate students as they learn to develop and commercialize technologies.

“TRAC provides future entrepreneurs networks throughout the state that guide and mentor this next generation of industry leaders,” Engebretson said. “TRAC students will help grow the region’s economy and workforce. They will not only join the workforce after graduation, but they will also create high-quality jobs for others.”

TRAC personnel include Engebretson, USD’s Dean of the Graduate School Beth Freeburg, USD’s Technology Transfer Officer Beth Lambeth, and Sanford’s Commercialization Director Tyler Remund, as well as critical regional stakeholders serving on TRAC advisory boards.

“The EDA award is the catalyst TRAC needs to take the decades-long research programming to the next chapter,” said Mark Mickelson, president, and owner of Mickelson & Company, LLC, and TRAC advisory board member. “TRAC is so valuable because it keeps our young people and their innovative ideas here at home in South Dakota.”

The EDA selected TRAC for an award from a pool of more than 600 applications from 36 states representing innovation and entrepreneurship in rural and urban areas across the United States. EDA awards grants through a competitive process based upon the application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility and availability of funds. More information on EDA’s grant process and investment process can be found at

In addition to the EDA grant, TRAC received a grant earlier this year for over $140,000 from the Research and Commercialization Council through the South Dakota Board of Regents to support their mission and goals.

To learn more about TRAC, visit


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News