Annual Report highlights USTAR’s progress

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For presentation to interim legislative committees each fall, the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative prepares an annual report.  A pdf copy is here.

USTAR focuses on leveraging the proven success of Utah’s research universities in creating and commercializing innovative technologies to generate more technology-based start-up firms, higher paying jobs, and an expansion of Utah’s tax base.

The March 2006 legislation that created USTAR provides funding to:

  • Recruit top-level researchers
  • Build state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research and development facilities
  • Form science, innovation, and commercialization teams across the state

In five years of operation, USTAR has hit significant milestones in its three program areas – Research Teams, Building Projects, and regional Technology Outreach. Here’s a recap of the three areas:

Research Teams
As of June 30, 2011, USTAR had recruited more than 40 top researchers to the University of Utah (U of U) and Utah State University (USU). These innovators have come from Harvard, MIT, UCLA, Case Western Reserve and other leading institutions.

Through June 2011, USTAR researchers have won $90.2 million of direct federal and other funding, with awards to date and through FY2015. Including USTAR-assisted research and direct sub-contract funding committed for future years, USTAR researchers account for $137.4 million in total impact. Given the state’s $73.5 million investment in the program to date, that’s a 187% leverage of Utah’s research investment so far.

USTAR innovators have generated a portfolio of intellectual property, which will fuel economic impact far into the future. One-hundred and twenty-one invention disclosures and 46 provisional patents have been filed, a highly productive performance in light of national averages. USTAR researchers have created four companies, and have a commercialization pipeline of more than 20 other projects.

USTAR has engaged the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) to analyze the economic impact of the initiative in its first five years. Results are expected in the fourth quarter of 2011, and will include job creation as well as a comparison of performance to the 2005 Economic Prospectus created at USTAR’s inception.

Research Facility Construction
USTAR funding supports construction of state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research and innovation facilities at the U of U and USU. Each structure will provide research teams with strategic core facilities to advance innovation and commercialization in their respective focus areas. These facilities are already proving to be “industry magnets” for collaboration.

Research teams began to move into USU’s BioInnovations Building in January 2011. The U of U building is progressing toward an early 2012 opening. Both projects significantly expand the state’s life science research and commercialization resources.

Technology Outreach
USTAR’s Technology Outreach Innovation Program (TOIP) is the engine to drive commercialization activities. The regional program is led by industry-experienced directors deployed across Utah. Each director heads an Outreach Center located at one of the state’s higher educational institutions. The directors assist in expanding the transfer of new or improved technologies from state universities to existing companies.

In FY2011, USTAR Technology Outreach staff conducted more than 200 projects that supported companies, entrepreneurs and researchers in 16 of 29 counties in the state. And the team facilitated the Technology Commercialization Grant Program, which links regional higher-ed institutions with local innovators to bring unique ideas to commercialization. So far, the grant program has resulted in 72 product prototypes, 73 disclosures or patents filed, 37 new sales distribution agreements, more than $8.3 million in follow-on investment, and the creation of 15 new companies.

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