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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.[1] The Utah State Legislature passed Senate Bill 75[2] creating the USTAR initiative in March 2006.

USTAR Vision: Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global destination.

USTAR Mission: Create a technology ecosystem that enables ideas to seed, grow and thrive.

USTAR's portfolio of investments is expected to:

  • Recruit and retain top researchers to the State’s research universities;
  • Support tech entrepreneurs through training, funding, incubator, and accelerator programs; and
  • Broker technology transfer by connecting capital, management and industry.[3]


USTAR was established in 2006 as an economic development initiative for science and technology in the State. USTAR’s initial focus had three major components:[4]

  1. Recruitment of faculty to the State’s two research institutions (University of Utah and Utah State University), with the expectation that these faculty would develop new technologies that would evolve into successful companies and result in high-wage job creation and increased tax revenue;
  2. Construction of research buildings at those institutions; and
  3. Operation of a technology outreach program that would support entrepreneurs throughout Utah.

During the 2016 Legislative General Session, S.B. 166, "Utah Science, Technology, and Research Modifications" made changes to USTAR’s mission and programming to focus on developing Utah’s innovation ecosystem. These changes established competitive grant programs for all non-profit higher education institutions and for private entities and expanded the resources and capacity of outreach programs, while continuing to support the researchers recruited through the USTAR program at the University of Utah and Utah State University.[5]


The Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) Initiative supports an ecosystem where world-class researchers and innovators can access state-of-the-art research and development facilities at Utah’s leading educational institutions. These multidisciplinary facilities provide the equipment and human capital they need to create products and services, collaborate with industry, and develop and commercialize new technologies.

Technology Acceleration Program[edit]

The Technology Acceleration Program (TAP) is a USTAR competitive grant program that supports private sector technology development for Utah-based companies. While designed for start-ups and early stage companies, mature companies can apply to TAP for development of a new technology or product. Proposed work can include, but is not limited to, research and development, proof of concept, product validation, and product development. TAP grants must be used to accelerate the development and commercialization of a technology and project proposals must identify specific technical milestones leading to the proposed outcome.[6][7]

University Technology Acceleration Program[edit]

The purpose of USTAR’s University Technology Acceleration Grant (UTAG) program is to support research and development of specific technologies that have significant commercial potential but need additional development before they can be spun out from the university setting. This funding addresses an innovation ecosystem gap between federal research dollars and angel investment, the “valley of death.”

UTAG is a competitive research grant program, available to individual researchers or ad-hoc teams employed by non-profit Utah-based colleges or universities, to advance the maturity of or de-risk technology that has been developed in university labs. All projects funded through UTAG must have an identified market and/or commercialization path.

Anticipated duration of projects will be no more than 18 months and grant money will be provided in the form of a reimbursement of expenses.[8][9]

Industry Partnership Program[edit]

Healthy, productive partnerships between industry and public or not-for-profit institutions of higher education are critical for a robust innovation ecosystem. Developed based on best practices from other states, the IPP is designed to build and strengthen the relationships between mature industry and the research capacity within Utah’s exceptional universities.

Driven by industry demand, the IPP promotes the development, acceleration and commercialization of innovative technologies by teaming industry and university research expertise to address specific technology problems or gaps identified by a company. The program is open to companies that have a substantial presence in Utah and have identified a specific technology challenge that, if solved, would result in a positive economic impact for the state.

Once a company identifies a technology gap, USTAR will use its network of higher education institutions in the state to identify potential research partners to address that technology gap. The industry partner and the researcher or research team will develop and submit a joint proposal for IPP funding.

Funding through the IPP is for the university research team and requires a cost-share, in-kind or cash, from the industry partner.

Proposals should identify specific milestones, reflect technology development between TRL 2-5 and have a clear commercialization plan. The duration of the project should be no more than 12 months.

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of experts and final funding decisions will be made by the USTAR Governing Authority.[10]

Science and Technology Initiation Grant[edit]

The Science and Technology Initiation Grant (STIG) is intended to assist university researchers in developing preliminary data or proof of concept experimentation in order to compete for center grants and large multi-center or interdisciplinary federal grants or private funding. (i.e. foundation or nonprofit).

Energy Research Triangle[edit]

The Energy Research Triangle is a competitive grant program aimed at fostering energy innovation across Utah’s universities. The program offers two categories of grants – one that encourages collaboration among researcher professors across the state, and another for university students, designed to elevate the next generation of energy researchers.[11]

Currently, the program is funded by the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) and the Governor’s Office of Energy Development.

Governor's Medal for Science and Technology[edit]

USTAR jointly administers the annual Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology with the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development.[12] The award program aims to recognize individuals in Utah who have provided distinguished service to the state in science and technology.


USTAR has funded research teams at the University of Utah and Utah State University. These teams are led by world-class faculty innovators who are hungry to collaborate with industry to develop and commercialize new technologies.

Research Facilities[edit]

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.[13] 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.

BioInnovation Building

Utah State University Synthetic Biomanufacturing Facility[edit]

Utah State University's USTAR BioInnovations Center was completed in October 2010.[14] 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.

Located on Utah State University’s Innovation Campus, the USU Synthetic Biomanufacturing Facility is designed and staffed to optimize large-scale development and production of bioproducts and raw cell material. The facility provides production capabilities for university faculty, researchers and students as well as private industries through state-of-the-art equipment and technical support, including a world-class fermentation facility.

A primary purpose of the fermentation lab is to generate substantial quantities of biomolecules for commercialization and scale-up performance evaluation. The capabilities of this facility enable scale-up optimization of fermentation bioproducts that can be grown and analyzed under a variety of growth conditions for maximum product yield and quality. Lab design also allows room to add additional equipment as demand increases.[15]

University of Utah James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building[edit]

Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building

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.[16]

Utah Nanofab

The Utah Nanofab brings together two teams of experienced researchers, engineers and scientists with backgrounds in nano-fabrication, nano-scale surface analysis, and industrial process design.

Surface Analysis Lab

The Surface Analysis Lab is the Utah Nanofab’s analysis branch. It is home to the ~5,000 square foot microscopy suite containing optical, electron, and ion microscopes. The lab’s team of scientists and researchers have years of experience in the fields of surface topography, surface chemistry and optical and dielectric properties of materials. Find out more about specific instruments and techniques at the Surface Analysis Lab’s website or contact us to find out what we can do for you.

Utah Nanofab Cleanroom

The Utah Nanofab Cleanroom is the Utah Nanofab’s fabrication and process design branch. We have a team of experts with years of industrial and academic experience in nano-fabrication techniques. Our class 100/1000/10,000 cleanroom provides world-class equipment for lithography, deposition, etching, packaging, and more. We would be happy to talk with you and your organization about how we can provide access to the tools or experts you need to engineer successful and reliable fabrication processes. Please browse our processes page or contact our staff to find out more.[17]

Satellite Offices[edit]

USTAR, as part of the initiative to increase innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment in Utah, has several key offices throughout the state. These offices help researchers protect and improve their research, connect entrepreneurs with new ideas, and help growing companies find seed capital.[18]

Besides working with emerging and existing technology businesses and entrepreneurs in their regions, the directors have pursued regional initiatives. These include:

USTAR Innovation Center

Scheduled for completion in late fall, the new facility will offer space for 15 to 20 startups As companies mature — typically over 12 to 18 months, they will move on to be replaced by other startups.

Located just outside the gates of the military base, the research park is situated along I-15 on a few of the 500 acres of military-owned land that is part of a public-private partnership aimed at developing a new tech corridor — dubbed Silicon Hills — similar to Silicon Slopes along the southern Wasatch Front.[19][20]

USTAR BioInnovation Gateway (BiG) 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[21] and is primarily funded through federal grants and the GSD for the first three years, after which it will become self-sustaining.

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.

Satellite offices located in Orem and St. George.


USTAR is appropriated approximately $22 Million a year of ongoing funding.[22]


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

The USTAR staff organization is composed of satellite & technical staff which including (directors, analysts, and interns) and headquarters personnel.


  1. ^ "USTAR technology-based economic development". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "COBI 2016". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "COBI". Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  6. ^ "TAP: Technology Acceleration Program | USTAR". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  7. ^ "USTAR Provides Utah Entrepreneurs with $639K in Funding Through its TAP Pilot Round". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  8. ^ "UTAG: University Technology Acceleration Grant | USTAR". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  9. ^ "USTAR Accepting Proposals for Technology Acceleration Grants". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  10. ^ "IPP" (PDF). 
  11. ^ USTAR. "Grant Aims to Accelerate Utah’s Energy Solutions Through University Collaboration and Student Innovation". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  12. ^ "State Science Medals - Procedures and Criteria -". Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Synthetic Biomanufacturing Facility". Research and Graduate Studies. Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Utah Nanofab". Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  18. ^ "Find Us Statewide | USTAR". Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  19. ^ "USTAR Innovation Center at Hill Air Force Base Now Underway". Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  20. ^ "USTAR Innovation Center at Hill AFT Breaks Ground, Foreseen as 'Silicon Hill'". Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "COBI". Retrieved 2017-03-08. 

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