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Entrepreneurs Encouraged to Apply for Giant Vision

Calling all entrepreneurs! The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development is seeking applications for the 2017 Governor’s Giant Vision Business Competition. The competition offers cash prizes to winners, as well as the support, resources and networking opportunities crucial to starting a new company.

Giant Vision offers two competition categories to participants: business and student. Competitors submit an application and business plan, and make a formal presentation to a panel of business experts. Finalists will be selected and will compete at the competition April 26 in conjunction with the Governor’s Economic Development Conference.

The first place winner will receive $20,000 in the business category and $5,000 in the student category.

Applications for the business competition are due Feb. 24, and March 3 for the student competition. For more information, please visit

South Dakota Entrepreneur Utilizes Two GOED Programs to Further Company

Dr. John Berdahl is an entrepreneur that has made use of two different GOED programs to help get his company off the ground: The Governor’s Giant Vision Competition and the Proof of Concept Program. Berdahl says that the programs were great because they helped him go through a process to refine his business, learn how to communicate to his market, and gave external validation to the company.

Berdahl’s company, Equinox, is a start-up that working to treat glaucoma – the No. 1 cause of irreversible blindness. Equinox is developing a pair of goggles that glaucoma patients wear at night. The goggles use a small vacuum that decreases pressure from the atmosphere on the eyes. Berdahl is currently in clinical trials and is planning on applying for FDA approval when the clinical trials wrap up.

Equinox won the Governor’s Giant Vision Competition in 2015 and applied for Proof of Concept funds during the same time period.

The Proof of Concept program was created in 2013 to help entrepreneurs and university researchers test and demonstrate the viability of a business idea. For more information, click here.

“The application processes were appropriately rigorous,” Berdahl said. “GOED staff was particularly helpful, and that is really important when you are putting together a quality application.”

Berdahl is also involved with a NASA program called Vision to Mars. A Wall Street Journal article Berdahl read discussed how some astronauts were losing their vision, and they didn’t know why. However, through the research he had previously done, he thought he might know why. So, Berdahl e-mailed the highest-ranking NASA official he could find, and was invited to share his findings.

It turns out the astronauts were facing a similar condition on the space station, and Berdahl is currently involved with finding a solution that will allow astronauts a longer time on space flights.

Dates to Remember

Jan. 17-20, 2017: The GOED will be exhibiting at the 2017 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas. Community Economic Development Organizations interested in a partnership should contact Jen Lambley or visit the "tradeshow opportunities" tab on our partner website.

April 26, 2017: The Governor’s Economic Development Conference and Governor’s Giant Vision Business Competition will be held in Sioux Falls.

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This is a publication of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Commissioner Scott Stern; Deputy Commissioner-Aaron Scheibe; Marketing and Public Relations Director-Mary Lehecka Nelson; Editor and Designer-Jennifer Lambley. © Copyright 2016