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Universities to form Innovation Alliance

December 5, 2022

Thirteen colleges and universities from across the Northern Plains to the Rocky Mountain west have partnered to form a regional technology and innovation alliance. Dakota State University is a partner in this group, which aims to provide lasting opportunities for innovation-led economic growth in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Through the Mountains and Plains University Innovation Alliance, research-focused colleges and universities in the five-state region will collaborate to leverage existing research, education, and training programs to boost their collective ability to attract and support the expansion of high-tech innovation and industry in the region.

The Alliance will also partner with tribal nations, state governments, and industry leadership to develop and enact a regional agenda to ensure the five-state region will play a central role in building the technologies of the next century.

“Along with my colleagues in Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, I’m thrilled to announce the formation of this partnership among so many incredible institutions,” said Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian. “Each institution brings its own strengths and capabilities, including incredible research talent and expertise. By working together and leveraging shared knowledge, I strongly believe we can expand our high-tech industry and economic growth for our states as well as the region.” 

“Dakota State is pleased to be part of this innovation alliance,” said José-Marie Griffiths, President of Dakota State University. “Blending the resources and capabilities of these 13 institutions will create a driving force that will benefit all of our students, create a strong and capable workforce for all of our businesses, and foster innovations that will impact our states, our region, and our world.”

Traditionally, the U.S. innovation economy has been focused on large urban areas where there is a high concentration of tech workers. However, today’s economy has enabled broad shifts in how and where people work. This shift has brought a wave of highly skilled workers to the five-state region due in part to the availability of additional economic opportunities, an abundance of outdoor pursuits, and a high quality of life.

National policy leaders have also recognized the importance of building a more diverse economy by providing high-tech and innovation-based investments in states with more rural and dispersed populations. The Mountains and Plains Innovation Alliance seeks to capitalize on these shifts to expand economic development and better attract federal research grants and other large-scale funding sources.

“Technology in every career field will impact our future as a global society,” said Dr. Ashley Podhradsky, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at DSU. “It is essential that we collaborate with our fellow institutions to create innovations that will improve life everywhere.”

Tomorrow’s problems also demand solutions that better integrate perspectives from different cultures. As home to half of the nation’s tribal colleges, a significant focus of the Alliance is encouraging innovation-focused investments in traditionally underserved peoples and places. By focusing on expanded partnerships with tribal colleges and nations, the Mountains and Plains University Innovation Alliance can inform and support innovative solutions to critically important issues that cross boundaries and cultures.

Members of the Alliance have already connected researchers across the region to explore opportunities in autonomous systems, advanced materials science, quantum computing, forest and rangeland management, cybersecurity, predictive and precision agriculture, and other fields. Moving forward, Alliance members plan to engage tribal, state government, and industry association leadership in a broader conversation to identify shared needs and focus areas for the region’s emerging high technology economy.


Mountains and Plains University Innovation Alliance members:

  • Boise State University
  • Idaho State University
  • The University of Idaho
  • Montana State University
  • Montana Technological University
  • The University of Montana
North Dakota
  • North Dakota State University
  • The University of North Dakota
South Dakota
  • Dakota State University
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • South Dakota State University
  • University of South Dakota
  • The University of Wyoming

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