Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, September 13, 2022

South Dakota Mines Joins NSF I-Corps Hub in “Game Changing” Move for University Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Researchers at work in the South Dakota Mines Karen M. Swindler Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Innovation in this department lead directly to the creation of the highly successful start-up company Nanopareil. The new NSF I-Corps grant will help turn the inventions generated in university labs like this into local high-tech businesses.

South Dakota Mines has been named a partner in a $14 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that establishes the new multi-institutional Great Plains Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Hub. The grant is heralded as a game changer for converting ideas generated on campus into profitable businesses that employ area graduates and grow the local tech-based economy.

The NSF’s I-Corps program was established in 2011. According to the NSF, I-Corps is “an immersive, entrepreneurial training program that facilitates the transformation of invention to impact. This immersive, seven-week experiential training program prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory-accelerating the economic and societal benefits of research projects that are ready to move to commercialization.” Since its inception, approximately 2,800 NSF I-Corps teams have participated in the program.

Mines faculty and students broke records in 2022 for both research awards and patents issued. The institution brought in $20.1 million dollars in research funding in FY22, and faculty and students had 15 patents issued and an additional 16 patent applications filed. The I-Corps Hub provides $820,030 in funding to train Mines inventors in entrepreneurship and provide capital to help bring cutting-edge technologies to the marketplace.

“We are very excited to be a part of the Hub. With so many students and faculty on campus that are innovating and looking to get their ideas in the market, these resources will be a huge win,” says Joseph Wright, associate vice president for research and economic development at Mines. “We have no doubt that Mines will leverage this opportunity to its fullest and a lot of great things will come out of this.”

Mines has grown a robust innovation pathway and culture of entrepreneurship on campus centered around economic development. This includes a wide range of efforts like the CEO Business Competition that has helped the university win top placements at the Governor’s Giant Vision Business Competition for the past eight years in a row and the Entrepreneur-In-Residence Program which includes highly accomplished business leaders from multiple industries who mentor Mines students and faculty to help them commercialize their ideas. The Mines Office of Industry Engagement facilitates access to resources by connecting industry with the university.

“Our campus is already a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship; this I-Corps grant will accelerate the ability of our faculty and students to take their great ideas into the marketplace. We have a very bright future in tech-driven economic development in the Black Hills, and this NSF I-Corps Hub makes it even brighter,” says Mines President Jim Rankin.

The Great Plains I-Corps Hub is led by North Dakota State University and includes partner institution across the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The Hub will foster new partnerships across these institutions driving regional high-tech economic growth.

The new I-Corps Hub: Great Plains Region is one of five announced across the country by the NSF. The new hubs are part of the NSF-led National Innovation Network intended to accelerate “the translation of discoveries into new solutions that benefit society.” To date the I-Corps training program has helped launch more than 1,000 startups across the country. In the coming years, South Dakota Mines will add many more to this number.

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About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $68,685. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu