$2M Brookings technology center preparing to open

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS (AP) — Officials are preparing to open a $2 million technology center in Brookings in a few weeks.

The Agriculture Technology Center for Rural Enterprise in the Telkamp Industrial Park is aimed at helping the city become a hub for both research and economic development. It was built using grants and loans from government agencies and private business.

“The idea behind the center is that it would be used to scale up different technologies. It’s really an incubation center,” said Al Heuton, executive director of the Brookings Economic Development Corp. “We’ve had the research, but it’s nice to see the business be developed here.”

The 30,000-square-foot building already has its first tenant. Prairie AquaTech is an aquaculture business that is using South Dakota State University research to develop a soybean-based food for fish farms, the Argus Leader newspaper reported ( ).

The center will fill a need for companies that want to test research to see if it is commercially viable, said Prairie AquaTech CEO Mark Luecke, who also is CEO of South Dakota Innovation Partners, a Sioux Falls-based venture capital firm that helped form the center.

“What we wanted to do was to take that research and actually take the production to the rural communities,” Luecke said.

The company has signed a three-year lease with the option to renew if needed. Brookings development officials will work to identify other types of businesses that could be located at the center after Prairie AquaTech moves out.

“Prairie AquaTech will be the first company out there, but it won’t be the last,” said William Aylor, head of the SDSU Technology Transfer Office.