New South Dakota Biotech associate director brings background in innovation, technology transfer

South Dakota Biotech begins 2024 with a new full-time associate director.

Beth Lambeth most recently served as an innovation strategist at Sanford Health and previously spent almost a decade in the USD Office of Research, where she worked in grants management and technology transfer.

“The potential of South Dakota’s biotech industry is inspiring,” Lambeth said. “This is an exciting time — resources available for tech entrepreneurs are growing, and evidence of more supportive research infrastructure entering our state’s communities is all around us. I am excited to be at the forefront of this vibrant sector.”

A native of Salt Lake City, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Southern Utah University and an MBA from the University of South Dakota.

“My dad is from South Dakota — Kennebec and Hill City,  as well as an SDSU grad — and our road trips to South Dakota to visit family instilled in me a love for the state,” she said.

Lambeth started her new role at South Dakota Biotech this month.

“Beth comes to us with an impressive background in tech transfer, commercialization, grant writing and management, and strategic thinking,” said Joni Ekstrum, executive director of South Dakota Biotech.

“Having worked with Beth in her previous roles at Sanford Innovation and USD Tech Transfer, we know firsthand that her knowledge of biotech startups, funding opportunities and relationship-building is exceptional. We’re incredibly excited to have her on our team.”

We caught up with Lambeth to learn more about her new role and the opportunities she sees for the growing biotech industry.

What attracted you to this opportunity at South Dakota Biotech?

First and foremost, this role aligns with my passion for bridging the gap between scientific innovation and practical, commercial application. My experience in technology transfer helped me learn more about identifying promising discoveries and shepherding them toward commercialization; I see South Dakota Biotech as a powerful resource to amplify that impact on a larger scale. I’m also incredibly impressed with the organization’s member relations as it has actively partnered to develop and promote biotechnology in our state. I believe in building strong relationships and fostering a collaborative ecosystem where everyone thrives, which aligns perfectly with South Dakota Biotech’s mission.

And finally, to be perfect honest, the chance to work with Joni was the first thing on my list! We share a passion for crafting strategic road maps to achieve the goals of South Dakota Biotech and an eagerness to always learn more about the industry and our members

How has your previous experience uniquely prepared you for your new role?

My years navigating technology transfer projects and building programs to support entrepreneurs have helped me develop skills that can contribute to South Dakota Biotech’s vision of propelling bio innovations and nurturing technology innovators. I understand how to chart a commercialization road map for promising technology, which will be valuable in understanding the needs of our member companies and connecting them with relevant resources. My experience networking with researchers and industry players also has equipped me to forge connections within the biotech ecosystem. And, I am starting to better understand the challenges and opportunities involved in bringing scientific discoveries to market. This knowledge will be crucial in advocating for our members and identifying where we can help them overcome roadblocks.

What are you most looking forward to about getting started?

I’m most looking forward to meeting our members – diving into conversations, understanding their needs and identifying ways to add value, which will be my top priority. I’m excited to help connect our members with each other, with resources and with other relevant stakeholders who are crucial to creating a thriving ecosystem. I also am passionate about fostering a pro-innovation environment in South Dakota and look forward to advocating for policies that support it. And finally, I enjoy learning about industry trends and look forward to leveraging South Dakota Biotech’s platforms to keep our members ahead of the curve and equip them with the insights they need.

 What are some of the greatest strengths or opportunities you see for the biotech industry in South Dakota?

The Midwest, and South Dakota in particular, boasts several factors that position it for success in the biotech industry:

  • A strong agricultural foundation: Our expertise in plant and animal sciences provides a foundation for biomanufacturing and agricultural biotechnology.
  • A cost-effective environment: Compared to coastal hubs, the Midwest offers lower operational costs, making it an attractive location for startups and established companies alike.
  • A collaborative spirit: There’s a strong sense of community and collaboration in the Midwest, fostering partnerships and knowledge-sharing within the industry.

If the biotech community would like to connect with you and South Dakota Biotech, what’s the best way to do that?

People can reach out to me directly at email, and I look forward to meeting with stakeholders in our South Dakota communities. I am approaching this opportunity with an excitement to learn more about this industry firsthand from South Dakota biotech companies.

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