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VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business on Wednesday announced the creation of a proof-of-concept partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development designed to take academic research from an idea to the marketplace.

In October, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded USD and GOED a matching grant totaling $996,000 to be used over three years to implement a proof-of-concept program to evaluate and commercialize bioscience ideas and develop the needed skilled workforce.

Under the plan outlined at a news conference at the USD center in Sioux Falls, teams consisting of researchers, entrepreneurs, technical and business students, equity capital investors and potential strategic partners will be created to submit proof-of-concept applications and execute projects. Applications will be submitted to the S.D. Board of Regents Research and Affairs Council and business/investment experts for technical and business review.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that the USD Discovery District will serve as a platform for a proof-of-concept program that will foster bioscience innovation in the state,” USD President Jim Abbott said.

“Research has shown that proof-of-concept centers are vital to commercialize university-based research,” said Venky Venkatachalam, dean of the Beacom School of Business.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said the joint program expects to award grants to 8 to 10 projects per year in order to help “prove their concept to help them move from idea to commercial success.”

Greg Bertsch, president and CEO of Antimicrobial Materials, Inc. leads the first team awarded an i6 Challenge grant to commercialize research that is able to “create surfaces that disinfect themselves.” His team will build a conveyor belt to be installed at a meatpacking plant to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the invention.

The activities will support economic development through knowledge discovery, student engagement and academia-industry collaboration utilizing the USD Discovery District and all three major research universities in South Dakota.

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