(605) 696-5600 | 2301 Research Park Way, Suite 146 | Brookings, SD 57006

Novita Nutrition honored with Incubator Company of the Year Award by the Brookings Innovation Center

BROOKINGS, S.D. – December 7, 2016 – The Incubator Company of the Year Award was presented to Novita Nutrition last Thursday evening as part of the annual Innovation Celebration at the Brookings Innovation Center. Novita proudly accepted the first annual award for displaying leadership, creating jobs, promoting economic growth in the community and state of South Dakota, and developing an innovative product.

“We’re honored to receive this award and are excited to be very close to full operation and positively impacting the community,” said Don Endres, CEO of Novita Nutrition. “We’re thankful for the support from resources in the city, county and state that make it possible for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses here.” 

The combined staff, including the production facility at Novita Aurora and the staff at the Innovation Center in Brookings, have brought nearly 50 new full-time jobs. Through an innovative patented production process, Novita, produces two branded products, including NovaMeal®, a highly digestible protein for the dairy market and NovaOil®, a renewable oil used in the production of fuels and animal feed.

“Providing a place for innovative technologies to grow and succeed is what the Research Park at SDSU is all about,” said Dwaine Chapel, Executive Director of the Research Park at SDSU. “Using knowledge generated in a collaborative setting as a catalyst for economic development, and in a very real sense, transforming people’s lives by moving cutting-edge innovations out of the labs and into the marketplace.”

The Brookings Innovation Center, a business incubator located in the Research Park at SDSU, is home to startup companies and established entrepreneurs. There are currently 34 companies located in the Brookings Innovation Center.

Novita Nutrition, is an animal nutrition company founded by a veteran group of entrepreneurs in South Dakota. Through the use of its patented process, Novita produces two branded products, including NovaMealTM, a highly digestible protein and NovaOilTM, a renewable oil used in animal feed. 

For more information contact: 
Novita Nutrition
Jill Kosbau, Director of Marketing

Discovery Benefits adding 20-30 jobs in Brookings


Contact: Kristi Larsen
Brookings Economic Development Corporation

Brookings, SD July 29, 2016 - For the second time in just two years, Discovery Benefits is expanding in Brookings with the announcement of 20-30 new mid-level positions.   

The company, which is a third party employee benefits administration firm headquartered in Fargo, opened its Brookings office in the Innovation Center at the Research Park at South Dakota State University in September of 2014. Last summer, they moved to the 15,000 square foot spec building located at the Research Park. The company currently has 63 employees in Brookings and 550 employees in Fargo.

“While the majority of our initial job openings in Brookings were participant services positions, these new roles will provide management and operational support to accommodate the significant growth we have been seeing within our company,” said Mark Westlund, Site Director of Discovery Benefit’s Brookings office.

“We are excited to see Discovery Benefits continuing to expand here,” said Al Heuton, executive director of Brookings Economic Development Corporation (BEDC). “We worked to recruit the company to Brookings because of its diverse career opportunities and strong company reputation as a premier employer.”

Discovery Benefits has gained local, regional and national attention as a leader in employee benefits
administration, including recognition as one of the “Best Places to Work” for the past six years and a spot on Inc. 5000’s fastest growing private companies in America for the past three years. The company has added more than 450 employees to its workforce since January of 2010.

“We believe in creating a fun and innovative work environment for our employees, with a work hard, play hard motto,” said Westlund. “That culture has enabled the growth and success we have experienced as a company.”

The company is hosting a job fair with walk-in interviews on Thursday, Aug. 4 from 3 p.m.- 7 p.m. at their office at 2324 Research Park Way in Brookings. For more information about Discovery Benefits’ job openings, visit www.discoverybenefits.com/careers.

Local entrepreneurial company adding nearly 50 jobs


Contact: Kristi Larsen
Brookings Economic Development Corporation

Brookings, SD July 26, 2016 - A company founded by a South Dakota State University graduate and a group of successful local entrepreneurs will be hiring as many as 50 people over the next several weeks to work in their new plant.

Novita Nutrition, an animal protein nutrition company, is nearing completion of an approximately $95 million agricultural processing plant, Novita Aurora. The plant will produce approximately 1,200 tons of their patented product NovaMeal, a high-performance feed for dairy cows, and 100 tons of NovaOil, used for poultry feed. The capacity of the plant, which is located about two miles east of Brookings, will feed approximately 600,000 dairy cows per day across the United States.

“We are scheduled to start up production at the facility in the fourth quarter and are ramping up our staff,” said Don Endres, president and CEO of Novita. “About 40 of the new positions will work at the plant, while an additional ten people will be located at our corporate headquarters in the Research Park at SDSU.”

Endres has a bachelor of science degree in animal science from SDSU and more than 25 years of experience building, operating and managing successful businesses. Novita has many ties to SDSU, including partnering for university trials to prove out their technology and hiring SDSU graduates and students. The company has also drawn employees that have relocated to Brookings. Novita currently has 15 full-time employees and projects an annual payroll of approximately $5 million after the additional staff are hired.

“Because of companies like Novita, the Brookings region is gaining national attention as a hub of activity for the bioscience industry and specifically protein development,” said Al Heuton, executive director of Brookings Economic Development Corporation. “The broad range of career opportunities offered by these companies will help us recruit and retain workers and graduates of SDSU.”

“Brookings has been very supportive of our efforts,” said Endres. “The resources available in the city and county make it possible for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses here.”

The company is hosting walk-in interviews on Wednesday, July 27 from 8am–5pm, Thursday July 28 from 1pm-6pm, Tuesday, Aug. 2 from 12pm-6pm, and Wednesday, Aug. 3 from 8am–5pm at the Brookings Department of Labor office, 1310 Main Avenue South. For more information about job openings, visit www.novitanutrition.com.

General Mills, South Dakota State University unveil Oats Research Laboratory 

Brookings, South Dakota -  General Mills and South Dakota State University (SDSU) today announced the opening of a state-of-the-art oat variety development lab on the Brookings campus. The Oats Research Laboratory will focus on advancing the sustainability and quality of oats in the U.S.

Click here for the full press release.

PF Sets Up Shop in South Dakota with New Regional HQ

July 29,2014

Anthony Hauck

Last month, Pheasants Forever announced plans to open a regional headquarters in South Dakota. Today, we’re proud to announce we’ve got a new address at the South Dakota Innovation Center located in the Research Park at South Dakota State University (SDSU).

Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s long-time Vice President of Government Affairs, has moved to Brookings, South Dakota and is excited about the Innovation Center. “When you think about opening up a brand new office, things like copy machines and coffee makers aren’t items at the forefront of your mind. In the Innovation Center, we’ve found the perfect setting for meetings with our partners and an environment conducive to our success. This facility has all the amenities necessary to get our operations off the ground in a hurry, so Pheasants Forever can stay focused on the real problem of turning the tide for habitat,” explained Nomsen.

“The Growth Partnership is excited to provide the space to facilitate collaboration between Pheasants Forever, SDSU, the region and the state of South Dakota,” said Dwaine Chapel, Executive Director of the Innovation Center. “Pheasants Forever will provide enhanced opportunity to connect with campus research associated with biosciences. Research partnerships provide solid connectivity between faculty while providing intern and career opportunities to students. The Research Park concept is designed to encourage these relationships. It is great to be a part of the first regional headquarters for Pheasants Forever.”

Contact Pheasants Forever’s South Dakota Regional Office:
2301 Research Park Way
Suite 152
Brookings, SD 57006

Dave Nomsen
(605) 864-8138

Incubators play viable role in business development

November 29, 2013

By: Dwaine Chapel, Prairie Business Magazine

Starting a new business is not an easy task. The innovator most certainly knows the details of his/her idea, product or service, but may lack some of the essential skills needed to turn the idea into a successful business. A community with a one-stop shop for inquiring entrepreneurs eases the difficulty of getting started. The use of incubators as an economic development tool has become an effective way to spark job creation and provide a place for entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into a viable business. These facilities promote innovation and job creation by providing essential resources and services to early-stage companies in an attempt to increase their success rate.

Incubators commonly provide market research of the idea, product or service, business plan assistance, financial assistance in the form of a small business development representative or licensed certified public accountant, and intellectual property expertise in the form of a licensed attorney.

Entrepreneurs play an important role in developing economies. Developing home-grown businesses balances economic development efforts. Communities do not need to rely solely on recruiting existing businesses from other locations. They can assist in a ground-up venture by using a business incubator.

A successful incubator understands the entrepreneurial temperature of its community and educational systems, is able to match the needs of local talent to appropriate resources, identifies potential projects and understands what entrepreneurs are talking about.

In smaller communities it is difficult to specialize in a specific niche such as culinary arts, science and technology, retail, or arts and crafts. In these instances it would be more appropriate to provide essential needs through broad services and resources. An incubator needs to be flexible and willing to take on community projects and entrepreneurial needs.

Incubators are community successes. Success rests on the shoulders of many, not a few. Mentors and coaches need to be identified as well. These people may have specific success in an industry cluster, but can provide initial knowledge to get an entrepreneur started on the right path to success.

The incubator staff works with all facets of the community to recruit the aforementioned mentors, coaches, business leaders, attorneys, accountants, and more to create the team. The incubator staff and team should be trained to provide a unique and positive experience to the entrepreneur. The incubator needs to have a business plan, financial plan and growth strategy to be successful. It needs to be a successful business as well.

Staff should also work to set up networking events to provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to meet business leaders and other successful innovators. If possible, set up speaking engagements for successful entrepreneurs to share their experiences. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What might they suggest to expedite the problem?

The use of an incubator as an economic development tool for a community is a viable way to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. They create jobs and assist in developing innovative ideas into sound businesses.

Raven Sets Sales Record For Third Quarter

November 21, 2013

By: Angela Kennecke, KELOLAND


SIOUX FALLS, SD - Raven Industries has set a record for its third-quarter sales.

The company reports $12.3 million in income for the quarter; that's up from $10.9 million from this time last year. Sales were at $104.9 million, up from $97 million for 2012's third quarter. 


The biggest jump in sales came from Raven's Engineered Films, which was up 21 percent; and Applied Technology divisions, which was up 11 percent.


However, with federal spending down, the company's Aerostar sales were down eight percent from $26.4 million last year to $24.3 million for this past quarter.


Raven's Aerostar balloons are being used in Google's Project Loon, to provide Internet access to remote areas. The company expects more growth from that project in the first half of fiscal year 2015.

Raven's net income for the year-to-date totals $34.6 million. In all, sales were $302 million, versus last year's $316.6 million.


"Gains in Engineered Films and Applied Technology drove third-quarter sales to record levels, despite U.S. government disruptions continuing to impact Aerostar," President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel A. Rykhus said. "While we anticipate near-term fluctuations across our divisions, we are pleased both by a strong quarter, as well as the fact that Raven is very well positioned for the long term."




Applied Nanofilms Maximizing Solar Science

September 24, 2013

By: Brian Kirk, KDLT News


While many students are outside savoring the late September sunshine, one small company is trying to use that energy to lower your bills.


Applied Nanofilms is an SDSU based research start-up. The company is trying to incorporate its low cost, large area technology to improve solar cell design and increase efficiency.


Braden Bills, a research director with the company, "A lot of this work started during my Ph. D work at SDSU and then we saw some commercial potential. We applied and we were awarded a small business innovative research award from the National Science Foundation."


Their goal is to make solar energy so affordable that you could wrap your entire house with flexible solar panels. The process creates a layer of film that is so small; it measures in at just 1/900th the thickness of a human hair.


"We want to be able to coat large metal films with our proprietary coating and this will go behind the solar cells and allow it to be more efficient," Bills said. Applied Nanofilms has earned more than $250,000 in funding, and is potentially a big business for some small scientists. "For me it's fun to see the big picture of the research from the bench, the market applications, and the processing and manufacturing and the steps in between."


The tests have been conducted, and the reflective materials have proven to work. Bills runs the numbers, "When you equate that to a solar cell performance, it's about a 10% efficiency improvement, for a single junction solar cell. We expect for a fully functional solar cell to be up to 30%.


With international companies beginning to take notice, Applied Nanofilms looks to revisit the solar solution.





Research park encourages economic development

August 30, 2013

By: Dwaine Chapel, Prairie Business Magazine 

The Research Park at South Dakota State University is a strong economic and real estate development tool set up to encourage collaboration between university and industry professionals.

The park lies adjacent to the SDSU campus and encompasses 125 acres with complete infrastructural amenities installed. It hosts the Innovation Center, SDSU Seed Tech Lab and a 15,000-square-foot spec building. The initial master plan is currently being revisited to ensure that the economic-based park aligns with the local economic development corporation.

The park provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurial growth in the Innovation Center. It sits within a stone’s throw away from a dynamic and diverse collection of forward-thinking researchers located on the SDSU campus. The university provides faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students a strong and positive environment to commercialize technological innovation.

The park’s board of directors has created a strong partnership with Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Lloyd Companies in setting up a 15,000-square-foot spec building. Businesses interested in the building are provided the opportunity to have the space built out to their own specifications.

The board has worked to ensure development by creating relationships with capital investors. Businesses interested in moving to the Research Park are provided several options to get started. They may be provided low interest funds to build as well as options to rent to own.

The research park has redesigned its website to assist in locating the amenities associated with the Innovation Center as well as building sites and available building space within the park. The site can be viewed at www.researchparkatsdstate.com.

Recruiting research to the area is one of the key tasks for the research park staff. The marketing consists of developing strong industry relationships with businesses that have the potential of creating collaborative partnerships with SDSU. The faculty at SDSU plays a strong role in this process. It is their expertise that is showcased to industry. It is the unique knowledge base that exists on campus that encourages businesses to locate in the park.

Marketing the high quality of human capital located at SDSU is an important component to the continued growth of the research park. There have already been key successes, with researchers from around the globe relocating into the park.

Continued economic and real estate development of the park will provide sustainable growth for the community and region. The process will take 15 to 25 years to complete. The research park provides a unique and important tool for the local economic development corporation and university to build into the future.  



Raven Industries to open center at the Research Park at SDSU

August 19, 2013

By: Dwaine Chapel, Executive Director  

With a focus on precision agriculture and workforce development, Raven Industries, South Dakota State University and The Research Park at South Dakota State University have announced the formation of The Raven Research and Commercialization Center. The partnership among the three entities will open a new location in the Research Park at SDSU to collaborate on research and development that will result in innovations, new products and opportunities for students.

Precision agriculture is a commercialized field management approach that uses applied science such as satellite technology, computerized steering, advanced planter control systems, variable rate applications of seeds and chemicals, and more to help growers and custom applicators become more efficient in their operations, while increasing yields. Precision agriculture optimizes management of every location in a field in order to enhance returns and maximize use of resources.

“With precision agriculture, you’re really farming by the square meter, rather than quarter sections,” said Barry Dunn, dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. “That’s going to make us better stewards of the land and increase profitability for growers."

Dunn also noted the quality of the university’s faculty and the value ongoing work in plant and soil sciences, geographical information science, computer science and decision analytics, computational science and statistics, and engineering will bring to the partnership. In addition, the university is adding a new field of study to support precision agriculture.

Dan Rykhus, president and CEO of Raven Industries Inc., highlighted a recent project involving SDSU faculty and students working with Raven team members to design a multi-hybrid planter control solution. “The opportunity to collaborate in areas associated with our core businesses will enhance our growth as an organization and develop a stronger cohesion between Raven and the university as we jointly address industry challenges,” he said.

The Raven Research and Commercialization Center in the Research Park at SDSU will offer student interns hands-on experience in highly technical areas, with the possibility of full-time positions following graduation.

“Raven’s Center in the Research Park is a win-win. Our engineering students will contribute directly to the development of advanced technology within a business environment. This is unique and unmatched,” said Lewis Brown, dean of the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering at SDSU.

Brown also said that partnering with companies like Raven will enhance economic growth in the state and region by building on the university’s discovery science to drive commercialization and create new products, services and jobs.

Jay Bender, chair of the Growth Partnership said, “Public/private partnerships like the one with Raven Industries are what the Research Park at SDSU is about—using knowledge generated in a collaborative setting as a catalyst for economic development, and in a very real sense, transforming people’s lives by moving cutting-edge innovations out of the labs and into the marketplace.” The Growth Partnership is a nonprofit organization that oversees the Research Park.

“We are excited to connect industry-leading faculty and top-caliber students from a renowned land-grant university with a global technology leader,” said Matt Burkhart, vice president and general manager of the Raven Applied Technology Division. “This is a great opportunity to help solve the challenge of feeding the world, and at the same time support South Dakota's higher education while proliferating the Silicon Prairie.”

Raven was founded in Sioux Falls in 1956 as a manufacturer of high-altitude research balloons to meet challenges faced by the country’s nascent space program. Today, Raven continues to address contemporary challenges through innovative high-quality, high-value products in areas of safety, global food production, energy independence and resource preservation.

The company currently comprises three divisions:
• Applied Technology Division, which provides electronic Global Positioning System (GPS) products and information management tools designed to reduce operating costs and improve yields for the global agriculture market;
• Engineered Films Division, which manufacturers high-performance plastic films and sheeting and geomembranes that provide critical protection of environmental resources through containment linings and coverings in the energy, agriculture, construction, environmental and industrial markets; and
• Aerostar Division, a world leader in the design and manufacture of aerospace, surveillance technology, electronics and specialty sewn products, including tethered aerostats used in research, communications, surveillance and intelligence gathering by both government and commercial entities.

About Raven Industries
Since 1956, Raven Industries has designed and manufactured high-quality, high-value technical products. Raven is publicly traded on NASDAQ (RAVN) and has earned an international reputation for innovation, product quality, high performance and unmatched service. Raven's purpose is to solve great challenges in areas of safety, feeding the world, energy independence and resource preservation. To realize this purpose, we utilize our strengths in engineering, manufacturing and technological innovation to serve the precision agriculture, high performance specialty films, aerospace and electronic manufacturing services markets. Visit www.RavenInd.com for more information.

About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from six different colleges representing more than 175 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 29 master’s degree programs, 12 Ph.D. and two professional programs. The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through SDSU Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.





NOVEMBER 10, 2012

The Brookings Register

BROOKINGS – During a quarterly report to the Brookings County Commission on Thursday (Nov. 8, 2012), representatives of the SDSU Growth Partnership and its Innovation Campus said they are actively recruiting tenants and have multiple good prospects. Jay Bender, chairman of the Growth Partnership board, appeared with Dwaine Chapel, new executive director of the Innovation Campus. Chapel read a formal thank-you note to the commission for its support over the years.

Possible Tenants
He then said though the campus has had no new tenants since his last report in July, his office is currently working with seven or eight “quantifiable leads.” “They are derived from various sectors of research, anywhere from seed with the seed tech lab, developing of new crop systems and things like that, potential construction of another facility in the research park, and bringing two to three new companies into the area,” Chapel said. “Albeit it may only be one or two individuals from each company in the beginning and they still may have just a space in the seed tech lab to begin with, but it will create opportunities for growth for the next many decades to come. They are two international companies and one national company. So, we’re very excited about that.” One company they are now working with would bring three to five jobs and would associate with the computer science department at SDSU. The Innovation Campus also hosted more than 65 people from Sioux Falls, SDSU and around the area recently in the Lloyd Building to help them understand what is going on in the park. 

A million feet of space 
The Innovation Campus, according to its website, will provide over 1 million square feet of first-class office, lab, conference and greenhouse space at full build-out. “As the leading research park in South Dakota, the Innovation Camps aims to foster collaboration and partnerships between South Dakota State University, business, industry, and government.” Bender said he is happy to be done with the building phase of this project. “We spent a lot of time and money and effort building the park, the infrastructure,” Bender said. “As Dwaine indicated, we’re done with construction. I don’t see the Growth Partnership putting any additional buildings into the park. I’m not saying that we wouldn’t, but our intent is to have the private sector make those investments as we move forward.”

'Interim’ Title Dropped
Chapel is helping the Innovation Campus to move forward: He was hired in March as interim executive director but the board has since decided it is pleased with his work and said it will not conduct a national search for a permanent director. The word “interim” has been removed from his title and his contract will continue for an indefinite period of time with a year-end  performance review. “I publicly wanted to recognize Dwaine: He’s really pretty new to our group, been here just a little bit over six months. And because of his economic background, he has brought the talent and the drive that we need from a recruiting standpoint,” Bender said. “The board is really pleased with Dwaine’s performance and the good leads that we have. We’re working those leads, and that’s the mode that we’re in; it’s the mode that I’ve been wanting to be in since I got involved with this thing over a decade ago,” he added.
“So, we’re at a critical point. We’ve got really a new player, a new leader; I would encourage you to keep your eye on us. We still, I think, are going to need your help financially for a while, but I’m hoping that we can get some results on the recruiting side.”

Commission Chair Deanna Santema said things are “onward and upward from here” and said the commission will continue to “keep its ears open” for future progress. Commissioner Stephne Miller added that she appreciates the campus’ current direction. “I am really comfortable with where you’re going now – and I wasn’t always – so keep up the good work,” Miller said.

-Originally published Nov. 10, 2012