Biotech ‘Startup School’ offers free workshops for entrepreneurs

Oct. 17, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by South Dakota Biotech.

Whether you’re launching a life sciences company or taking another entrepreneurial path, a series of upcoming workshops is designed to help you on the journey.

South Dakota Biotech, in partnership with the USD tech transfer office and Sustainable Heartland Accelerator Regional Partnership, or SHARP Hub, will hold a “Startup School” beginning Oct. 24 at the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.

This grant-funded program builds on content delivered for entrepreneurs at the Oct. 8 South Dakota Biotech Summit.

“The goal is to emphasize commercialization of biomedical technologies,” said Joni Johnson, executive director of South Dakota Biotech. “The focus is to introduce innovators to resources available in South Dakota for commercializing research.”

We learned more from Beth Lambeth, technology transfer officer at USD, who put the program together.

Why did this program begin?

The whole point of it is that the National Institutes of Health wanted to award money to focus on the entrepreneurial path to translating new technologies. They’ve realized they’re funneling millions in research projects, and there are really exciting discoveries coming out of it, but there’s a huge gap between R&D in an academic lab and furthering a discovery so it can really impact people’s lives.

There’s angel and venture capital funding, but there’s just so much involved in starting and funding a company, assessing the value of the commercial assets of technology, so this is all about trying to build awareness of the programs out there, specifically for biotech startups but also for entrepreneurs in general.

Who is a good fit for participating?

Anybody and everybody interested in starting your own business, especially if you’re interested in what investors want to see from you. Obviously, that’s a bit different for early-stage biotech companies, but that’s why we’re working with both Zeal and South Dakota Biotech – because although it’s focused on life sciences, I would love for this to help the community as a whole and would love for other universities to get involved too.

How is the program structured? What kind of content can participants expect?

We’re hoping to build awareness of some of the really big questions that entrepreneurs have when they start out, specifically trying to focus a little more on life sciences because those technologies have an extra hurdle with timelines and pre-clinical work and trials and regulatory aspects. You can come to one or all of the sessions, and all are free.

The six, one-hour workshops run from 7:45 to 9 a.m. at Zeal, 2329 N. Career Ave.:

  • Oct. 24: What Do (or Don’t) Investors Want to Hear? Matt Willard, co-founder, The Funding Farm and assistant professor of business administration, Augustana University.
  • Oct. 31: Regulatory Pathways, Aaron Harmon, QUIBIT.
  • Nov. 7: Creating a Value Proposition, Dan James, South Dakota School of Mines.
  • Nov. 21: Intellectual Property,Tony Olson, D2 Consulting.
  • Dec. 5: Small Business Funding, Gary Archambault, Small Business Innovation Research.
  • Dec. 12: How to Create a Business, Mark Slade, Small Business Development Center.

Because it is grant funded, the program’s workshops are free. To learn more, email Joni Johnson at or click here.

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Biotech ‘Startup School’ offers free workshops for entrepreneurs

Whether you’re launching a life sciences company or taking another entrepreneurial path, a series of upcoming workshops is designed to help you on the journey.

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