USD Research Park will help shape region’s economic future

It is an exciting time to be promoting innovation-driven economic development in the Dakota’s as part of the team establishing the new University of South Dakota Research Park in Sioux Falls.

A strong partnership between the South Dakota Board of Regents, USD, Forward Sioux Falls (a partnership between the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation) and the City of Sioux Falls has been vital to moving the park from concept to reality. Along with their critical financial investment, these partners are also devoting invaluable human capital to this effort.

As with most research parks, including those at South Dakota State University and North Dakota State University, the vision for the USD Research Park is to create a unique environment to stimulate economic growth by connecting university resources, research and talent with private industry.

The park, being established on 80 acres adjacent the University Center Sioux Falls campus, has identified four key activities to achieve this vision:

  • Growing university research capacity, resources and talent;
  • Connecting these core university activities with private sector resources and companies;
  • Fostering entrepreneurship and commercialization through a robust incubation program; and
  • Facilitating the creation of the physical infrastructure necessary to support creation and attraction of research and innovation-based businesses.

The USD Research Park has aligned itself with the South Dakota Technology Business Center (SDTBC), a Sioux Falls technology-business incubator, to jump start park operations and undertake these key activities. For 10 years the SDTBC has helped companies launch and grow in Sioux Falls through programs like its business accelerator and by providing specialized space, flexible lease terms and technology services. The relationship between the USD Research Park and the SDTBC will enhance both organizations’ ability to support innovation-driven economic development in the region.

Progress is already being made to address the growing need for physical infrastructure. The University of South Dakota is now constructing Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) space at the Graduate Education and Applied Research (GEAR) Center that anchors the park. University researchers and private companies will soon be able to utilize this space to produce pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices for clinical trials, a vital step in the commercialization process. In the future, the GMP space and staff will also be leveraged to provide the education and training programs necessary to develop the skilled workforce required to grow these companies in South Dakota.

The partners in the University of South Dakota Research Park are at the beginning of an exciting endeavor. The immediate next step is to complete and adopt the park’s master plan by the end of summer. The master planning process will involve establishing permissible uses, adopting design standards, and creating a phased park development plan. It will also help structure the park’s business model and how it interacts with private developers.

While this master plan will define and guide the physical development of the park for the next 25 years, a successful USD Research Park will help shape the economic future of the Sioux Falls region for decades beyond.