Governor George S. Mickelson, Sioux Falls business leaders and the University of South Dakota first proposed developing a university-related research park more than 20 years ago.

The Forward Sioux Falls Technology Committee revived that concept in the year 2000. More than 200 education, community and business leaders participated a planning process focused on strengthening the region’s capacity to support and grow technology-based businesses. This process resulted in the 2001 feasibility study conducted by Hammer Siler George Associates that recommended establishing both a business incubator and research park.

Through a gift from the Great Plains Education Foundation, the Board of Regents acquired 252 acres in 2006 to establish a permanent location for University Center Sioux Falls. The division of this land by Career Avenue created the opportunity to consider which functions would be on the east and west sides. Early on the focus was to establish the academic activities on the west side and reserve the east side for the establishment of a research park.

In 2009, the South Dakota legislature enacted legislation authorizing the establishment of an 80-acre research park at University Center in Sioux Falls.  In 2011, research park experts of national stature from Virginia Tech, Purdue University and Iowa State University met with university and community leaders to assess the feasibility of the University of South Dakota Research Park. Their unanimous recommendation was to proceed.

In 2012, the legislature passed, and Governor Daugaard signed, legislation to authorize research parks on lands controlled by the South Dakota Board of Regents.  The University of South Dakota Research Park corporation was formed later that year.