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DSU to host information meeting on FAST Launch

November 2, 2021

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Individuals who wish to participate in either event should register through the FAST Launch webpage on the SD Biotech site.

University, SD Biotech collaborate on entrepreneur program

Dakota State University and South Dakota Biotech will introduce the new FAST Launch entrepreneurial program at an informational meeting in Madison on November 9.

The meeting will be hosted at the Madison Cyber Labs® on the Dakota State University campus, Room 112. Joni Ekstrum, South Dakota Biotech Executive Director, will speak from noon to 12:15 p.m. as part of the university’s bi-monthly Research Brown Bag event. Interested individuals can attend in person or via Zoom.

Lunch will be provided for those attending in person, so those attendees are asked to pre-register at DSU-PaulsonCenter@dsu.edu; off-site participants should also make a reservation to receive the Zoom link, said Katherine Cota, Director of Economic Development at Dakota State.

“We find that entrepreneurs often have good ideas, but don’t know how to get their idea to the end-user,” said Ekstrum. “The endeavor is also something that is often out of people’s comfort zone,” she added, and “it takes a while to change the mindset to do these things, but those are the things we can help with…by doing our best to make sure they have the resources they need to make a go of it.”

Providing these resources is where FAST Launch and Dakota State come in, she stated.

FAST Launch resources include four components:

  • Bootcamp – a training program on how to start and grow a business and to develop and commercialize innovations.
  • Customer Discovery – Boot camp participants are eligible to apply for up to $1,500 to support a customer validation process.
  • Business Plan – if customer intent is validated, a participant can apply for up to $10,000 to support further development and implementation of a business plan.
  • Giant Vision Competition – FAST Launch encourages and supports entrepreneurs to participate in the Governor’s Giant Vision Competition, which features a winning business award of $20,000. Applications are due for the competition on Feb. 25, and from students on March 4, 2022.

Dakota State is providing the foundational educational components for FAST Launch, including two upcoming boot camps. These are scheduled for November 6, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., and December 4, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; both are offered in-person or via Zoom. Individuals who wish to participate in either event should register through the FAST Launch webpage on the SD Biotech site.

DSU will also provide the customer discovery, and business plan creation portions, and individuals should register for these workshops through the SD Biotech site as well.

These components are offered through the Paulson Cyber Incubator and Entrepreneurial Center, which opened officially in August.

“We are pleased to work with SD Biotech and EPSCoR on their grant for the FAST Launch program,” Cota stated. “The foundational education resources will allow new South Dakota businesses to apply for funding from the FAST Launch program to validate their business idea and perhaps secure additional funding through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or other programs.”

“With resources such as these to help individuals be successful, “South Dakota is positioned very well for entrepreneurial efforts,” said Ekstrum.

“All of this assistance with foundational startup education and small grants to help a business validate ideas and verify markets will help new businesses in South Dakota be strong and more prepared for the journey that is entrepreneurship,” Cota said.

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