POET Bioproducts Institute to Bring Research to Market

Newswise – A new lab will bring together researchers from South Dakota State University and South Dakota Mines along with industry partners to scale up bioprocess and bioproduct research across the world. laboratory to the market.

The POET Bioproducts Institute “will provide structure and simplicity for private companies to collaborate with academic scientists to develop products,” according to SDSU vice president for research and economic development, Daniel Scholl.

Mines Vice President for Research Ralph Davis said: “The vision is to take existing research at both universities to the next level with our industry partners and do proof-of-concept work. final which will show commercial viability. “

To facilitate these public-private partnerships, the specialized laboratory in SDSU’s research park will be managed by a newly created non-profit organization, the Dakota Bioproducts Innovation Institute.

“Experts from private companies will help university researchers ask the right questions,” said Davis. “It’s important to have this partner who says ‘this is an interesting process in a 100 or 250 milliliter bottle, but what are you going to do when you take it out of the Bunsen burner?'”

The 45,000 square foot facility is made possible by statutory funding of $ 20 million, $ 5 million from POET and $ 2 million from South Dakota Corn. In addition, the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council will provide $ 500,000 per year for five years, for a total of $ 2.5 million, and the state has pledged $ 500,000 per year for costs. operational.

“We would like to thank the South Dakota Legislature and Governor’s Office as well as our industry partners and stakeholders who have invested in this facility and share our vision of the potential economic benefits to our state,” said Davis. A request has been submitted to the US Economic Development Administration for $ 3 million to help purchase specialized equipment.

Use of agricultural raw materials

Based on the recommendations of an international team of bioscience consultants, Scholl and Davis chose two areas of specialization: specialty animal foods, particularly prebiotics and probiotics which have the potential to reduce the need for antibiotics. , and biomaterials, including bioplastics which are degradable.

“These are the areas that we have judged to have the greatest likelihood of success,” said Scholl, noting the state’s abundant supply of agricultural commodities.

SDSU’s strengths lie in raw materials and pre-treatment as well as downstream animal feed testing. Associate Professor of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Joy Scaria develops probiotics to improve gut health in animals and humans. It is in the final stages of optimizing a mixture of bacterial strains that can reduce the susceptibility of piglets to disease and infection during weaning.

“A facility like this would be beneficial in terms of the ability to scale,” said Scaria. Mines’ expertise in fermentation will also be useful for its research.

“Our research relationship with the nutrition industry is also creating a lot of potential,” said Scholl. Crystal Levesque, Associate Professor of Animal Sciences, said: “We have a strong link with producers through SDSU Extension and a relationship established with the feed industry through research we have already conducted. “

Develop biomaterials

Mines is strong on the bioprocess side, developing biomaterials through two centers started with state funding. The Composites and Polymers Engineering Laboratory, or CAPE Lab, was founded in 2004 and develops advanced polymers and processing of composites.

The Composites and Nanocomposites – Biomaterials Advanced Manufacturing Center, or CNAM-Bio, was launched in September 2018 and is hosted within the CAPE. Through collaboration between disciplines ranging from microbiology to mechanical engineering, the center seeks to meet the need for sustainable polymers and strong, multifunctional biocomposites and bionanocomposite structures.

“We have processes and products ready to take to the next level, which we cannot do in our facilities. The bioproducts lab will be equipped to meet the right volume that industry needs to show that a technology can be commercialized, ”said Davis.

Mining professor David Salem, who heads the two composite materials research centers, said: “The new lab is a crucial part of bringing innovative biomaterials, such as biodegradable plastics, to market through sustainable bioprocesses. and competitive.

Another product of the lab will be highly qualified scientists and engineers who can help industrial partners expand their operations. This workforce will also include administrative and accountants as well as technicians responsible for the operation of the plant and the installation. “We can create that whole array of jobs beyond $ 15 an hour,” Davis said.

Scholl concluded, “We are creating a growth industry for our graduates, diversifying South Dakota’s economy and adding value to agricultural products.”


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