Announcing BioRise

Supporting the evolving biotech industry by securing funding opportunities is the goal of a newly rebranded and enhanced nonprofit.

BioRise is a 501(c)(3) organized by the leaders of South Dakota Biotech, the state’s affiliate of the international BIO organization.

“For years, the biotech industry in South Dakota was in its infancy and focused on building the necessary infrastructure for growth,” said Joni Ekstrum, executive director for both biotech organizations.

Winners are eligible to compete for an additional $50,000 to $150,000 later this summer to support a “Growth Accelerator Partnership” to further develop strong innovation ecosystems.

“Our focus with this grant is addressing food security through bio-based partnerships,” Ekstrum said. “We want to partner with communities that are underserved while also finding a way to train our workforce in ways that support agriculture and plant science, food and nutrition.”

The grant is the second one recently awarded to BioRise. The first is an SBA FAST Grant, which has proven to be a successful way to support startup competitions and student-founded businesses competing in the Governor’s Giant Vision.

With support from Dakota State University’s director of economic development, Katherine Cota, entrepreneurs are receiving training in developing their business concept.

The focus is on tech-based, scalable companies that are at idea stage or are early startups or those seeking additional funding. Of the 13 winners in this year’s Giant Vision, nine were involved with the FAST Launch program.

“It’s really been great. A number of the companies that have gone through FAST Launch are still growing, and the quality of applicants to the Giant Vision competition has increased dramatically,” Ekstrum said. “I believe it’s a direct correlation to the resources FAST Launch provides and the training Katherine has been providing that’s made a huge difference.”

BioRise is anticipated to receive another $125,000 SBA grant for its third year in the FAST Launch program.

The board of BioRise includes:
  • President: Dr. Mel Ustad, principal investigator of South Dakota EPSCoR.
  • Vice president: Dr. Mark Stowers, biotech executive of The Global Bluefish Co.
  • Secretary: Dr. Kara McCormick, Sanford Research.
  • Treasurer: Dr. Christoph Bausch, executive vice president and chief operating officer, SAB Biotherapeutics.

South Dakota Biotech will continue to operate as a membership-based trade organization focused on advocacy, education, economic development and networking. BioRise will serve as the organization that allows for grant-based funding opportunities that support the industry’s needs.

“There are many grant opportunities, particularly coming out of the pandemic with the enhanced focus on biopharma and efforts surrounding onshoring of pharmaceutical development and manufacturing in the U.S.,” Ekstrum said. “We now have a structure and a story that allows us to go after that funding. Our state is small, but our biotech industry is emerging, and we have to have federal dollars to help us achieve our potential and support our growing biotech companies.”

To learn more about BioRise, click here.

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