“I couldn’t be more pleased that USD Discovery District will serve as a platform for a proof-of-concept program that will foster bioscience innovation in the state,” said USD President James W. Abbott.

In October 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded $17 million to 42 organizations, including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations from 28 states to create and expand proof-of-concept and commercialization programs.

As co-applicants, GOED/USD was awarded a matching grant totaling $996,000 to be used over three years to implement a proof-of-concept program to evaluate and move bioscience innovations from idea to market and develop the necessary skilled workforce.

“Research has shown that proof-of-concept centers are vital to commercialize university-based research,” said Venky Venkatachalam, dean of the Beacom School of Business. “We are delighted to win the i6 Challenge Grant.”

Teams consisting of researchers, entrepreneurs, technical and business students, equity capital investors and potential strategic partners will be created to submit proof-of-concept applications and execute projects. Applications will be submitted to the SD Board of Regents Research and Affairs Council and business/investment experts for technical and business review.

Governor Dennis Daugaard said the program expects to award grants to 8-10 projects per year in order to help “prove their concept to help them move from idea to commercial success.”

“I am excited about the future of the biotechnology sector at the USD Discovery District,” Governor Daugaard said.

Greg Bertsch, president and CEO of Antimicrobial Materials, Inc. leads the first team awarded an i6 Challenge Grant to commercialize research that is able to “create surfaces that disinfect themselves.” His team will build a conveyor belt to be installed at a meatpacking plant to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the invention.

These activities will support economic development through knowledge discovery, student engagement and academia-industry collaboration utilizing the USD Discovery District and all three major research universities in South Dakota.

Download a photo from the event.

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