SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)–Biotech industry leaders, researchers and educators gathered for the 16th annual South Dakota Biotech Summit Thursday.

“This is an opportunity for the industry to get together and talk about all the great work that they’re doing, not only share what they’re doing, but learn from others,” South Dakota Biotech Executive Director Joni Ekstrum said.

South Dakota Biotech is a trade association connecting companies and researchers that are working to feed, fuel and heal the world.

“As it relates to research for the human body and human health, for plants and feeding the world and also fueling the world, clean energy, sustainable aviation fuel, those are all areas that are biotech related,” Ekstrum said.

Today’s events featured speakers from the region’s largest healthcare providers along with ag leaders like John Deere and fuel innovators like POET.

Senator Mike Rounds and Dakota State University President Jose Marie Griffiths also talked about how advances in technology will continue to shape the biotech field.

“How is technology impacting healthcare, what is going on with digital health, with AI?” Ekstrom said.

“Electronic medical records have a lot of data, how do we look at the meta trends through that data and actually get actionable intelligence through that data to make a difference on peoples lives,” attendee Eric Sandhurst said.

They’re important questions attendees like Eric Sandhurst are working to dive into at their companies here in South Dakota, all local innovators that are now looking to connect with the next generation.

“We’re raising awareness through the summit and events like this to impact mostly students, helping to keep them here and help grow small businesses,” Sandhurst said.

“The vision at DSU is to create and educate young people and have them stay in South Dakota,” Senator Rounds said.

South Dakota Biotech works throughout the year to connect students with the growing number of new startup and growing biotech companies across the state.