BIO 2016: South Dakota’s Biotech Boom

Jun 06, 2016

South Dakota’s Biotech Boom

Biotechnology is booming in South Dakota.

From translational research to innovation campuses, the state is positioning itself as a leader in this growing sector.

South Dakota Biotech celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and is the state affiliate of BIO.

“It’s truly incredible how far biotechnology has come in our state in the last decade,” executive director Joni Johnson said. “And in many ways we’re still just getting started.”

South Dakota has the nation’s sixth highest concentration of graduates in bioscience related programs, with a university system offering 25 bachelor, 14 master, and 24 PhD programs in bioscience-related fields.

The new Build Dakota program offers full-ride scholarships to students pursuing high-demand occupations at the state’s four technical schools.

“Our students are embracing biosciences and more importantly the jobs are here for them,” Johnson said.

Here’s a sense of the activity statewide, which will be detailed throughout this week at BIO:

Research and development capabilities are growing with the addition of BioSystems Networks & Translational Research (BioSNTR), a state-of-the-art imaging and informatics distributed research facility with more than 30 affiliated researchers from universities and research institutes in South Dakota.  The BioSNTR capabilities include:

  • Imaging cell populations in vivo, molecules within cells, cells within tissues and molecular imaging in plants.  
  • Gene editing, assay development, cell sorting and compound screening,
  • High performance computing, iPlant Agave API, Gene server
  • Pilot scale GMP facilities, greenhouse and field testing, large and small animal research facilities. 

Healthcare research is accelerating. Major employers Avera Health and Sanford Health collectively are participating in 450 clinical trials.

  • Sanford, the largest rural healthcare provider in the nation, is pioneering research in children’s health, rare diseases, type 1 diabetes, cancer and genomic medicine.
  • Avera’s research and development emphasizes cancer, personalized medicine and genetics of complex diseases.

Incubator and research park space is expanding.

Research parks include the Innovation Campus affiliated with SDSU in (Brookings, SD) and the USD Discovery District in (Sioux Falls, SD).

The Graduate Education and Applied Research Center, located on the USD Discovery District campus, offers 2,750 square feet of wet lab space with average lease rate of $20 per square foot. When fully complete the Discovery District will include more that 1 million square feet of lab, production, science and technology, commercial and retail space. The first 40,000 sq. ft. research facility is currently being designed with construction planned for 2017. Suites range from 2,500 to 20,000 square feet. Lease terms are 15 years and rates for fully fit-out labs start at $32 per square foot.

The Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship in Sioux Falls offers about 4,000 square feet of wet lab space with an average lease of $17-19 per square foot.

“As you can see, South Dakota has the infrastructure, both human and physical, to grow biotech in a big way,” Johnson said. “And that doesn’t even take into account the reasons any business can find success in our state, with its award-winning business climate.”

South Dakota also offers:

  • No corporate or personal income tax, personal property tax, business inventory tax, or inheritance tax.
  • Financing and tax incentive programs are available through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
  • Reasonable and deliberate regulatory environment with exceptionally quick turnaround time.
  • Historically conservative fiscal policy has produced a balanced budget each year since South Dakota earned statehood.
  • The third lowest business operating costs in the nation, 87.6% of the national average, in the latest regional price parity analysis. 

“We look forward to a great week telling the South Dakota story at BIO,” Johnson said. “Once people discover what’s happening in this state, they’re sold on it.”

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Category: Press Release