Request a Consultation >


Growth and Innovation

Innovation is the primary driver of growth for individual companies and the economy as a whole. Manufacturers must continually innovate – develop new products, adopt new technologies, and improve manufacturing processes – to retain current customers, increase profitability, and expand into new markets. Innovation is vital for success in the global economy.

The product development section of the organization has the responsibility to develop an innovative the products that will carry the company forward. With the competitive nature of business in today's world market, innovation is key to ensuring long company survival and to ensure the products that are developed surpass the customers’ expectations.

MTS promotes innovation and growth by providing tools and services to help manufacturers navigate all phases of the innovation process. From helping companies find a technology solution that leads to a new product, to facilitating market viability assessments, to providing tools to support the product design and development process, MTS’s suite of services foster innovation for U.S. manufacturers:



New products represent the future for a manufacturer, but commercializing an idea – transforming it into a desirable product that can be efficiently and profitably manufactured – is a demanding process. We have divided the commercialization process into 6 distinct stages. Smaller companies often lack the experience and resources to address these stages.

MTS offers the following services that help companies through the 6 stages of commercialization:


6 stages of commercialization graphic

The Enterprise Institute

Enterprise Institute logo

The Enterprise Institute is a private, non-profit corporation that provides customized business development, commercialization, and market research services to entrepreneurs, inventors, and startup companies in South Dakota. Our mission is to assist South Dakota's emerging growth entrepreneurs.

The Enterprise Institute provides free, confidential consulting through the SD Small Business Development Center. Specialized fee-based services are also available to entrepreneurs seeking equity financing and to researchers and inventors that need commercialization assistance.

The Institute is credited with formalizing angel investing in South Dakota by organizing and administering angel investment funds. These funds provide early-stage capital to emerging growth companies in the region.

  • We provide business development and commercialization services to researchers, inventors and start-up companies in the region.
  • We offer specialized fee-based services to entrepreneurs seeking equity financing and to researchers and inventors that need preliminary commercialization assistance.

Learn More


Innovation Engineering

Innovative Engineering graphicInnovation Engineering is a groundbreaking program that provides a systematic approach to innovation. The fundamental concepts of the program include tools and methods for creating, communicating, and commercializing meaningfully unique ideas. For businesses, Innovation Engineering accelerates a continuous flow of innovations - big and small - to address your departmentʼs, divisionʼs, and companyʼs very important problems & opportunities.

The process can be used on major innovation projects that have a dramatic impact on sales and profits or minor projects help transform the culture. Itʼs a four-stage process of Define, Discover, Develop and Deliver and integrates painlessly with classic project management systems such as Compression Planning, Stage-Gate, Design for 6 Sigma or Hoshin Planning.

Innovation Engineering transforms innovation from a random art into a reliable, scientific system for profitable growth. It accomplishes this by creating a culture of never ending innovation within organizations that delivers increased innovation speed (up to 6x) and decreased risk (30 to 80%).


Lean Product Development

Lean Product Development offers tools and methods to improve time to market and reduce the risk inherent in new product introduction. It also provides ways to reduce the waste in, and improve the results of, product development efforts.

The typical product engineer only does 1.7 hours of value added work in an 8 hour day. Lean Product Development gives you ways to reduce wasted time and improve the effectiveness of your product development process.

Doing more with less is a mandate for virtually every firm, and innovation is crucial to long-term survival. Lean Product Development applies the waste-elimination philosophy of lean to the product development process, allowing firms to reduce time to market, development expense, and other product development risk, while improving resource utilization and product costs.

Firms that embrace Lean Product Development have reported:   

  • Up to a 50% reduction in launch schedule
  • Dramatic improvements in gross margin
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction

Under the umbrella of Innovation and Growth Services, MTS helps firms transform their product development process through services and resources such as Lean Product Development, Lean Product Design, and Lean and Sustainable Product Design Toolkits.

For example, a Lean Product Development service called "Quickstart" workshop provides a step-by-step methodology for integrating lean into a client's product development process. Scaled to their size, workshops address a company’s specific needs, introducing them to an ideal Lean New Product Development process and to Lean Product Development tools and methods - many of which can be applied immediately.


Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 

Small Business Innovation Research logo

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive, three-phase grant program. The SBIR program provides $2.5 billion dollars per year through 4,800 awards to small businesses to develop new products and processes that address federal research and development needs.  Eleven federal agencies participate, so topics range from new corps to new weapons systems and from renewable energy to pollution monitoring.

What We Do:

  • One-on-One Counseling
  • Assistance with Federal Registrations
  • Identify Funding Opportunities
  • Link You with University Researchers
  • Proposal Editing
  • Publish Monthly Newsletters

Learn More


Technology Scouting

Icon with telescopeTechnology Scouting uses a systematic approach to help small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) find technology solutions. This method, combined with MTS’s extensive partnership network (access to government, university, and private sector research), allows companies to find technology solutions outside their industry. This broader perspective can result in unexpected, but effective, solutions.



Technology Driven Market Intelligence

Icon with compass

Technology-Driven Market Intelligence (TDMI) is a service that provides a systematic and comprehensive approach to technology-focused market intelligence. Unlike traditional market research, TDMI directly considers the technical and market viability of your asset and provides the customized actionable intelligence you need.



Automation Lab

We are helping our South Dakota manufactures get on the leading edge of automation utilization in their plants while mitigating risk. South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions (MTS) created an automation lab in our Sioux Falls location in late 2015. This lab allows manufacturers to see first hand how collaborative robots interact with people while providing a beta test for their specific application.

collaborative robots

Our lab currently houses:

  • one-armed Sayer cobot, Rethink Robotics
  • two-armed Baxter cobot, Rethink Robotics
  • various vision applications
  • demonstration lab

NEW UPDATE TO SAWYER!  Even more capabilitiesthan before! Software (Intra 5) recently released by Rethink Robotics for the one-armed cobot, Sawyer provides: enhanced programming capabilities, integration into work cells with other automation, vision to inspect parts and vision to pick parts from a random stack (static and dynamic), adjustable force sensing, easy decision making –if this do that, if not do the other thing.

Cobots on the go

Looking at investing in automation? Are you looking for a way to reduce the risk of determining applications? Or do you want to test a cobot in your manufacturing environment? Our team can help determine if automation is right for your facility and application. Whether you stop down to our Automation Lab for a mini tour or want more extensive research and trials with a test on-site in your facility MTS can help. Please contact your nearest Business Advisor or Keith Deibert at

What is a Cobot?

Collaborative robots, or “cobots” are robots that work collaboratively with humans. Unlike traditional industrial robots that required light curtains and cages, these cobots can work side-by-side with their human team mate.

5 key differences

  1. SAFETY -
    Collaborative Robots are designed to work alongside their human colleagues and are equipped with features allowing seamless collaboration. The Baxter and Sawyer robots by Rethink Robotics are equipped with detection sensors, enabling them to know where its operators are at any moment. Baxter and Sawyer are also programmed to immediately stop its work if it represents any danger whatsoever for a person, equipment or fixturing nearby. This does away with the need for setting up secure enclosures, since the cobot’s security features are designed in such a way that it can operate amongst humans.
    Collaborative robots are very easy to program. Whereas traditional industrial robots require advanced computer programming skills, collaborative robots are capable of learning.
    Cobots are more economical. Collaborative robots no longer need to be confined to a single task. They can be integrated into numerous projects, can be easily reprogrammed, moved and redeployed at different stages in the production chain making them much more profitable. Doing away with external safety barriers needed with typical industrial robot applications also saves money.
    Cobots are Robots that work in partnership with humans. A “cobot” acts as an assistant, and is involved in targeted complex, sensitive tasks that can’t be automated. It is also capable of learning. Cobots are now capable of picking up an object and giving it to a human, in a cooperative environment very different to that of the more traditional robots.
    Collaborative robots are tasked with carrying out tough (safe handling of hot or awkward workpieces) or very low value-added jobs. Human intelligence is refocused on other aspects of the production chain. This allows technicians to focus their attention on their core business and create more value added.


Looking to automate but unsure of ROI? Contact