Biotech industry marks big year in South Dakota

From research breakthroughs to major investments and newcomers to the industry to next steps for existing companies, the bioscience industry has much to celebrate in 2018.

“When you look back, it really has been an impressive year for the biotech industry in our state,” said Joni Johnson, executive director of South Dakota Biotech. “We’re absolutely going to build on that momentum in 2019 and beyond, with several projects just ramping up and other promising innovations on the horizon.”

Here’s a look, month-by-month, at just some of South Dakota’s biotech accomplishments in the past year.

January: Major acquisition

Vanguard Sciences in North Sioux City, which provides product testing services such as microbial, chemical and physical analysis to clients in the food industry, was acquired by SGS of Geneva, Switzerland, one of the world’s largest inspection verification, testing and certification companies.

February: Lab growing

In Vitro Brasil, or IVB, a global leader in the bovine market for in vitro fertilization, detailed its plans for growing its Sioux Falls lab. The company is the world’s leader in bovine genetics, reproduction services and artificial insemination technologies. The Sioux Falls lab is in the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Park VIII in northeast Sioux Falls.

March: Legislative win

The South Dakota Legislature wrapped up its session with a significant bioscience bill as part of its accomplishments. The new law establishes consistent standards for when a biosimilar prescription product can replace an original biologic product.

April: Networking success

South Dakota Biotech hosted a popular networking event at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship, bringing together a broad cross-section of those connected to the biotech industry.

May: Prairie AquaTech expansion

Thanks to a $60 million investment, Prairie AquaTech, which uses a natural, biological process to convert soybean meal to a high-quality ingredient fed to fish raised commercially, has a major expansion under construction in Volga.

June: USD Discovery District, national honor

An exciting announcement for the new USD Discovery District in Sioux Falls revealed that Alumend and SAB Biotherapeutics will be tenants in the first phase of development, which includes an 84,000-square-foot multitenant research building as well as the state’s first commercial cGMP, or Current Good Manufacturing Practice, biotherapeutics manufacturing facility.

In the same week, Gov. Dennis Daugaard received the Lifetime Champion Award from the international BIO organization for his leadership and commitment to strengthening biotechnology.

July: Job growth

South Dakota was highlighted for its bioscience job growth by BIO, the industry’s leading international trade organization. There now are more than 6,000 bioscience workers statewide employed among more than 500 businesses.

BIO reported bioscience firms in South Dakota grew employment by 2.4 percent from 2014 to 2016, and funding from the National Institutes of Health reached $23.5 million in South Dakota, up from $20.6 million in 2015.

August: Medical device company formed

Sioux Falls-based Tailored Medical Devices started developing next-generation medical devices with help from a Small Business Innovation Research grant of $225,000 to move forward with developing a drug-coated balloon to treat peripheral arterial disease, or PAD.

September: Big investment

Philanthropist Denny Sanford put his support behind SAB Biotherapeutics with a $10 million investment. The company ended 2018 by completing a $22 million Series A-2 round.

October: South Dakota Biotech summit

The South Dakota bioscience community came together for its annual summit to share breakthroughs, connect on industry issues and honor its own. Denny Sanford was named the 2018 recipient of South Dakota Biotech’s LIVE award, recognizing Leadership, Innovation, Vision and Excellence. South Dakota Sen. Deb Soholt and Rep. Les Heinemann were honored with South Dakota Biotech’s Distinguished Collaborator Awards for their help in advancing biosimilar legislation during the 2018 legislative session.

November: New ‘pharm’

SAB Biotherapeutics began operations at its new ‘pharm’ in Canton, an 80-acre property where plasma is collected from genetically engineered cattle and used to address a variety of diseases.

December: International award

Some of the world’s leading medical researchers came to Sioux Falls to be honored as finalists for Sanford Health’s inaugural Lorraine Cross award. The $1 million prize will be given every other year, and the first winners were Drs. Jean Bennett and Katherine High, whose research reverses an inherited form of blindness.

See more on the 2018 Year In Review here.
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