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POET Bioproducts Institute Breaks Ground

Poet groundbreaking attendees
POET, South Dakota State University and South Dakota Mines held a groundbreaking ceremony for the POET Bioproducts Institute at the Research Park at SDSU Wednesday. From left, are Dwaine Chapel, executive director of the Research Park at South Dakota State University; Jeff Lautt, president and chief operating officer at POET; Jim Rankin, president, South Dakota Mines; Barry Dunn, president, South Dakota State University; David Salem, professor of chemical and biological engineering and nanoscience and nanoengineering, South Dakota Mines; Daniel Scholl, vice president of research and economic development, South Dakota State University; Kevin Tetzlaff, president and CEO, First Bank & Trust Brookings, and member of the SDSU Growth Partnership board of directors; Jeff Partridge, South Dakota Board of Regents; and Ralph Davis, vice president for research, South Dakota Mines.

POET, a global leader in the production of bioproducts, South Dakota State University and South Dakota Mines held a groundbreaking ceremony today for the POET Bioproducts Institute at the Research Park at SDSU. The institute will serve as an innovation center for the development of low-value agricultural and forestry materials into high-value bioproducts such as specialty animal feeds and bioplastics that are degradable.

“We are convinced that this specialized laboratory will provide our region with enormous capacities to drive economic growth through applied biotechnology,” said SDSU President Barry Dunn. “The idea of this institute started with a challenge from the private sector and grew into a collaborative partnership between many organizations.”

architectural rendering POET Bioproducts Institute
A rendering of the POET Bioproducts Institute.

The 45,000-square-foot facility is made possible through $20 million in legislative funding, $5 million from POET and $2 million from South Dakota Corn. Furthermore, the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council will provide $500,000 annually for five years—a total of $2.5 million—and the state committed a yearly $500,000 for operational costs.

“POET has longstanding partnerships with South Dakota’s leading engineering universities in supporting our state and driving one of its most essential industries: agriculture,” said Jeff Broin, POET founder and CEO. “Now more than ever, we must continue to develop cutting-edge innovations in low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts in order to protect our planet. The POET Bioproducts Institute will be a catalyst in driving processes and technology that will lead our nation’s conversion from a fossil-based economy to an ag-based economy.”

The facility will allow collaboration on the next generation of bioproducts. SDSU strengths are in feedstock and preprocessing, as well as the downstream animal feed testing trials. Mines provides expertise on the bioprocessing side, developing biomaterials through the Composites and Polymer Engineering Lab and the Composite and Nanocomposite Advanced Manufacturing–Biomaterials Center. POET will provide innovation around commercial scale development.

“This project is a very visible example of two South Dakota universities working together, with industry, to make life better in South Dakota,” said Jim Rankin, president of South Dakota Mines. “These new product lines will create jobs, which will keep our college graduates and graduates from the technical colleges in South Dakota. We at Mines are excited to see the new innovation that will be created.”

The facility is expected to produce more than $6 million annually from research expenditures that include employee salaries from grant-funded research. Estimates also include more than $4 million annually toward South Dakota industries accessing pre-pilot scale-up lab and bioprocessing services.