McKnight named director of SDSU Innovation Campus

Jason Mann

Jason Mann

Teresa McKnight has been named the first permanent director of South Dakota State University’s Innovation Campus.

On Dec. 11, McKnight replaced Bob Miller, who had been serving as director on a voluntary basis.

“The Growth Partnership is indeed fortunate to have such strong leaders at both the policy and the operational level … Starting with an experienced and capable leader like Teresa will give us a running start.” Miller said.

McKnight comes to Brookings from Logan, Utah, where she served as director of Utah State University’s research park. She has a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from USU and serves on the board of the Association of University Research Parks.

The Innovation Campus will be located in the northeast corner of Brookings, east of 22nd Avenue and south of the Highway 14 bypass. It is the brainchild of a non-profit organization called the SDSU Growth Partnership, which is made up of representatives from SDSU, the SDSU Foundation, the City of Brookings, Brookings County, South Dakota state legislators and several private businesses.

According to McKnight, the SDSU Growth Partnership has big goals.

“The purpose of forming the SDSU Growth Partnership was to combine the experience of university, business, industry and government to create a stimulating environment – an environment that uses information and critical thinking to generate new ideas and promote research and discovery,” McKnight said.

She, too, has a dream for the newest addition to our campus.

“In 10, 20, 30 years and beyond, the Innovation Campus will be a breathtaking campus, innovative in every way, with energy-efficient buildings, open green spaces, beautiful ponds and waterways, along with some of the most advanced and high-tech companies in South Dakota and the nation,” she said.

McKnight estimated that more than 100 high-tech companies will employ more than 3,000 people.

Part of the Innovation Campus’ purpose is to help students gain real experience in their field of study with real companies, allowing them to make valuable contacts who can help them strive towards success in the professional world. McKnight said these companies will hire hundreds of students each year in fields like agriculture, engineering, bio-technology, nutrition, accounting, marketing and public relations.

The SDSU Growth Partnership plans to begin work on Phase I of the Innovation Campus, which is approximately 20 acres in size, this spring. Eventually, the campus will cover 125 acres.

One of the first two buildings slated to be built is the Seed Technology and Research building. The 70,000 square-foot structure will house the Center of Excellence for Drought Tolerance Biotechnology, a research project in partnership with Gov. Mike Rounds’ Vision 2010.

The second building, a 30,000 square-foot structure, will house several private businesses and the Innovation Campus administration offices. McKnight, the first permanent director of SDSU’s Innovation Campus, will replace Miller on the Growth Partnership.: