USD Discovery District Breaks Ground for First Building Project

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The USD Discovery District, an 80-acre corporate and academic research park in northwest Sioux Falls, held a groundbreaking today for its first building project.

“We’re excited to have such a large and impactful project to launch South Dakota’s first innovation community,” said Rich Naser, Jr., president of the USD Discovery District. “This $30.9 million project encompasses both a large multi-tenant research building and manufacturing facility, and is about three times larger than we anticipated 12 months ago.”

The ceremony was held at the construction site at the intersection of the new streets, North Frances Avenue and West Nobel Street; south of N 60thStreet or Highway 38 and directly west of the University Center.

Now that key milestones have been achieved, including approval of funding, infrastructure committed from the city, selection of contractors, securing of remaining federal funds for infrastructure and final agreements signed, construction is ready to begin.
The USD Discovery District is a public-private partnership effort between the University of South Dakota (USD), the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the City of Sioux Falls, the Board of Regents (BOR) and the business community through Forward Sioux Falls (FSF). 

The first building is an 84,000 square-foot multi-tenant research laboratory, office and biopharmaceutical manufacturing space. In addition to primary long-term tenants SAB Biotherapeutics and Alumend, the building will house the USD Discovery District offices and offer 20,000 square-feet of open leasable space. The second building is a 42,000 square-foot commercial biomanufacturing production facility. SAB plans to use the building for its commercial biotherapeutics production operations.

Alumend LLC, Avera’s wholly owned applied research and development company, will establish its corporate office and research laboratory in the district, occupying approximately 7,500 square feet. Alumend scientists have developed Natural Vascular Scaffolding (NVS) therapy, a novel drug/device combination for the treatment of peripheral vascular disease (PVD). They will continue research and development of other uses of the NVS chemistry with potential applications in cancer, orthopedics and cosmetics at the Discovery District. 

“Through our work with Alumend, Avera has been a proud participant in South Dakota’s biotech industry for the past two decades, and we’re thrilled to be an anchor company in the Discovery District,” said Ryan Hansen, Executive Director, Avera Research Institute. “By developing applications where there are currently unmet clinical needs, Alumend further enhances the Avera mission to make a positive impact in the lives of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.”

SAB Biotherapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing immunotherapies from its first-of-its-kind polyclonal antibody platform, will occupy approximately 41,000 square-feet for its corporate headquarters, research laboratories and cGMP biomanufacturing suite. The company also plans to occupy the second building with its commercial manufacturing operations which would increase its capacity nearly ten-fold, from 100L to 1,000L.

“We chose to build our company in South Dakota because of the ability to get things done and move the business forward,” said Eddie J. Sullivan, SAB Biotherapeutics, Inc. president, CEO, and co-founder. “We’ve now doubled in size since 2014, completed multiple successful clinical trials and recently completed our first production pharm near Canton. Clearly, it was a good decision.” 

Construction at the Discovery District was facilitated by a financing package including state loans and grants, in addition to USD Foundation participation, to ensure a home not only for SAB Biotherapeutics and Alumend, but additional space for future biotech companies emerging in the state or choosing to relocate here.

“The Discovery District is an important initiative to strengthen the region’s capacity to support and grow innovation-based businesses resulting in new jobs, increased regional wealth and enhanced tax revenues,” said Governor Dennis Daugaard. “We believe it will catalyze the growing biotech industry in South Dakota. At full build out, the direct economic impact is projected to include 26 privately developed buildings with facility construction value exceeding $314 million and nearly 2,800 people employed by companies located in the District.”

Biotech companies based in the Discovery District will impact the Sioux Falls community with new jobs and new recruits to the area, and will impact the world with the breakthroughs, ideas and products developed in Sioux Falls, Naser said. The district currently has 13 sites available for lease ranging from 1.9 to 17 acres in size, accounting for 61.6 acres of current leasable property with an additional 100.6 leasable acres available for development.

“The Discovery District will become a destination community to live, work and play, with both companies and classrooms, dining, retail and bike trails,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken. “The city will continue to work with the District on infrastructure to support this investment made by Forward Sioux Falls and we’re excited for the University of South Dakota to have a larger footprint here.”

With its location adjacent to the University Center in northwest Sioux Falls, the Discovery District will provide access to research facilities and infrastructure for research business development and foster collaboration for the commercialization of new technologies. 

“Innovation is driven where research, education and industry collide,” said University of South Dakota president Sheila Gestring. “The Discovery District will provide opportunities for students, faculty and entrepreneurs to solve problems and bring new technologies to light. USD is committed to workforce development through programs, investing in assets like the cGMP facility and continued work with the University Center for multi-university collaboration.”

 “Today, we took a big step to toward making this dream a reality,” Naser said. “It’s the powerful partnership of committed and active stakeholders that continues to drive our vision forward.”