Generate new knowledge, encourage innovations and promote artistic and creative works that contribute to the public good and result in social, cultural or economic development for South Dakota, the region, our nation and the world.
Research and scholarly activities have been a driving factor of South Dakota State University’s success since 1887 when the Hatch Act established agricultural experiment stations in higher education institutions, creating a pathway for research to be at the core of the land-grant mission.
SDSU is the state’s leading research institution, spending in excess of $63 million annually on research and scholarly work. Much of that money is derived from government grants and contracts, but other sources come from private partnerships. In the last year of IMPACT 2018, nearly $2 million was spent on research at SDSU from private-sector partnerships and collaborations.
Research helps society drive economic development in the state and region by combining university with industry expertise to solve complex problems. SDSU has positioned itself as a global leader in precision agriculture, remote sensing and life science. Currently, more than 800 undergraduate and 1,320 graduate students are engaged in research at SDSU.
The Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization, which assists university researchers in protecting and commercializing intellectual properties and fosters collaborations between the university and industry partners, has generated nearly $18.5 million in royalties and licensing fees during the past 10 years. Invention disclosures in the past five years have averaged 33 annually.
One key metric in IMPACT 2018 was the number of startup businesses and collaborating businesses. Research moves from an idea, to the lab and ultimately the goal is to put that knowledge into production or commercialization. Startup companies bridge the work from research to commercialization or production.
At the onset of IMPACT 2018, the baseline for startup companies and collaborating businesses was five with a final goal of 15. In 2018, the Division of Research and Economic Development reported 42 startups and collaborating businesses. Among the new startups and collaborating businesses were:
- Kodo Kids, a research collaboration that designs and markets products for early childhood centers, preschools and daycare centers. Kodo Kids is a Colorado-based company.
- General Mills, which, with South Dakota State University, opened a collaborative oat variety development lab that is housed in the Young Brothers Seed Technology Building at the Research Park at SDSU.
- Momenta Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company with a validated innovative scientific platform focused on discovering and developing novel therapeutics to treat rare, immune-mediated diseases, sponsored university research.
- Raven Industries, which entered into a partnership with SDSU to advance precision agriculture in the state, region and the world. The Raven Precision Agriculture Center will be completed in the near future, bringing an exceptional facility to South Dakota and expand an existing relationship that leads the nation in precision agriculture education, research and extension.
- SAB Biotherapeutics Inc., a company developing technologies to transform the treatment and prevention of diseases from cancer and inflammation to autoimmunity and influenza, sponsored services with SDSU.
An area of Goal 2 that fell short of expectations was research spending. The target was $115 million annually; the amount in 2018 equaled $63.5 million. While certain external factors affected research expenditures over the five years, the university has looked inward to address some of the issues.
Three key internal elements have an impact on research and creative activity: organizational structure; program alignment, especially at the graduate level; and faculty workload.
Organizational structure is a means by which efficiencies and collaboration spur research and creative activity. In the final year of IMPACT 2018, SDSU senior leadership began exploring ways in which research and creative activity allow a premier land-grant university to serve society and provide students with an intellectual experience.
One example of adjusting organizational structure was moving the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence into the College of Natural Sciences. The move allowed more strategic investment of financial resources to support research into the college and other critical areas of the university, while using the center to be a strategic tool to drive research growth in a key academic area.
This type of integration will also allow for alignment of current and future advanced degree programs that will attract some of the brightest graduate students from around the world. Overall success will also be met by creating the correct workload balance for faculty between teaching and research responsibilities. The investment of faculty human resources was a challenge during IMPACT 2018 and currently departments throughout the university are working to develop models to address this issue.