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The Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative is a technology-based economic development initiative funded by the state of Utah. The Utah State Legislature passed Senate Bill 75 creating the USTAR initiative in March 2006. This measure provided funding for investments at the University of Utah (U of U) and Utah State University (USU) to recruit researchers, build interdisciplinary research and development facilities, and to form science, innovation, and commercialization teams across the state.
This initiative focuses on leveraging the assets of Utah’s research universities (U of U and USU) in creating and commercializing innovative technologies to generate more technology-based start-up firms, higher paying jobs, and additional business activity leading to a statewide expansion of Utah’s tax base.
USTAR has recruited research teams to Utah and developed internally within four focus areas. The focus areas are meant to be based on the universities’ existing strengths and have commercialization opportunities, address large markets ranging from statewide to global, and leverage Utah’s industry strengths. Current USTAR research teams are:
|Research Teams||Institution||Corresponding Markets|
|Arrhythmia Consortium||University of Utah/Utah State University||Electrolyte imbalance in blood, coronary artery disease|
|Alternative and Renewable Energy||University of Utah||Catalysis, solar energy technology|
|Applied Nutrition||Utah State University||Obesity, cardiovascular, diabetes, Alzheimer’s|
|Intuituive Building||Utah State University||Task-adaptive lighting solutions|
|Fossil Energy- Carbon Engineering||University of Utah||Carbon capture & sequestration for utilities|
|Nano-technology Biosensors||University of Utah||Cancer tests for early detection and treatment|
|Diagnostic Neuroimaging||University of Utah||Psychiatric diseases, Methamphetamine abuse|
|Imaging Technology||University of Utah||Early pathology treatment, drug evaluations|
|Biomedical Device Innovation||University of Utah||Targeted drug delivery to treat cancer|
|Micro & Nano Systems Integration||University of Utah||Biomedical monitoring & analysis, drug delivery|
|Wireless Nanosystems||University of Utah||Wireless communication at the nano level|
|Synthetic Bio-Manufacturing||Utah State University||Pharmaceuticals, fuels, plastics|
|STORM||Utah State University||Accurate weather prediction|
|Circuits of the Brain||University of Utah||Down and Williams Syndrome|
|Digital Media||University of Utah||Film production, animation, online gaming, simulations|
|Nanoscale & Biomedical Photonic Imaging||University of Utah||High-resolution diagnostics at the cellular level|
|Veterinary Diagnostics and Infectious Disease(VDID)||Utah State University||Diagnostics and infectious disease|
|Space Weather||Utah State University||Telecommunications, aviation, space|
|Wireless Power Transfer||Utah State University||Wireless energy and power conversion|
USTAR funding supports facilities at the University of Utah and Utah State University. The buildings provide research teams with advanced facilities aimed at innovation and commercialization of their respective focus areas. Funding for the projects came in March 2006 when State legislators created a $160 million USTAR building fund. The universities are providided a $40 million match, bringing the entire building budget to $200 million. The USTAR legislation required both of the research universities to donate land and make significant contributions towards the cost of the building prior to construction.
Utah State University
Utah State University's BioInnovations Center was completed in October 2010. The Construction Manager General Contractor (CMGC) for the building at USU was Gramoll Construction and the Architectural & Engineering (AE) firm was AJC Architects. Payette Associates designed most of the lab space, including a Bio Safety Level 3+ lab, a vivarium, a clinical nutrition center, and life science labs. The building is located in the USU Innovation Campus in North Logan, Utah.
University of Utah
University of Utah's Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building was dedicated April 19, 2012. The 208,000 square-foot facility includes labs for nanofabrication, small animal imaging, optical imaging, neurosciences, biotechnology, as well as a vivarium and data center. The building is located between lower and upper campus and act as a central unifier between the work in the College of Engineering and the Health and Medical School. USTAR and the U of U are seeking LEED certification for the building.
Technology Outreach Innovation Program (TOIP)
USTAR’s Technology Outreach Innovation Program (TOIP) supports commercialization activities by lending business expertise to local opportunities and focus areas.USTAR’s TOIP is to help commercialize the research being done by USTAR research teams at the research universities. TOIP directors assist in creating businesses along the same lines of USTAR focus areas and research teams.
The regional program is led by industry-experienced directors across Utah. Each director heads an Outreach Center located at one of the state’s higher educational institutions. The TOIP directors promote commercialization of local discoveries and technologies emanating from the State’s research universities and enable technology-based entrepreneurial activities in their respective geographical areas. Center locations include Weber State University, Utah Valley University, Utah State University - Vernal, and Southern Utah University.
The directors assist in expanding the transfer of new or improved technologies from state universities to existing companies and advancing research on behalf of Utah’s leading firms.
Besides working with emerging and existing technology businesses and entrepreneurs in their regions, the directors have pursued regional initiatives. These include:
SBIR/STTR Assistance Program In an effort to assist small technology businesses and entrepreneurs, USTAR, Salt Lake Community College, Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Small Business Administration have opened the SBIR/STTR Assistance Center located at the Miller Corporate Partnership Center in Sandy.
The SBIR/STTR Assistance Center assists technology companies in matching their technology products to possible SBIR/STTR grants as well as assisting in the writing and submittal process. The center also presents training and provides workshops.
BioInnovation Gateway (BiG) Project Located within the Granite Technical Institute (GTI) in Salt Lake City, the BioInnovation Gateway (BiG) project combines business incubation with workforce development. Up to seven companies will access biotech and engineering equipment used in the Biomanufacturing and Biotechnology programs of Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) and Granite School District.
BiG offers biotech start-up businesses and students shared facilities, equipment, technical resources, and talent. The three primary objectives of BiG are:
- To provide early-stage Life Science companies a cost-effective competitive edge by sharing space, equipment, and talent.
- To train outstanding students to develop creative thinking skills in a product-driven environment. Participating BiG students will earn degree credit at GTI, SLCC, or Utah Valley University.
- To offer third-party contract research services.
BiG opened on October 27, 2009 and is primarily funded through federal grants and the GSD for the first three years, after which it will become self-sustaining.
State funding for USTAR is more than $15 million a year on an ongoing basis for research and technology outreach activities. In March 2009, the State Legislature passed Senate Bill 240, directing an additional $33 million for two years from American Reinvestment and Recovery Act sources. The majority of this funding is planned for new and expanded research and commercialization projects at the two research universities.
The USTAR Governing Authority is a 10-member team with experience in invention, entrepreneurship, financial capital, university research, and running and growing companies. A current list of members can be found at http://www.innovationutah.com.
The USTAR staff organization is composed of regional technology outreach staff (directors, analysts, and interns) and headquarters personnel. The TOIP offices work with local entrepreneurs and businesses, provide consulting to the university USTAR research teams, and pursue regional initiatives. The headquarters team supports the TOIP offices, and provides executive administration, accounting/finance, and marketing/communications services.