A compromise bill that preserves the mission of USTAR, but adds more oversight and accountability to the technology commercialization entity is coming to light on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
A recent legislative audit found the organization was overstating the commercial benefits of some scientific research to the state, angering many lawmakers.
Sen. Brian Shiozawa, who is sponsoring the legislation, says he sees value in continuing the commercial spin-out venture of USTAR, but he is sensitive to lawmakers who want to make sure the money the state is giving to the agency is being spent wisely.
“There’s a lot of positive potential with USTAR,” said Shiozawa. “What happens if we hit a Gatorade? It would be a huge benefit to the state if we could capture that money and those jobs. That would be money well spent. But, we need to monitor that spending and be mindful of our stewardship of those funds so that we are doing commercialization as well as research.”
Shiozawa has been in negotiations with both legislators and the USTAR governing authority to craft the compromise piece of legislation.
“We are going to ask those research teams to report to the Legislature and USTAR. They’ll report how they are using those funds – everything from how they are paying staff and students and they’ll report on what they are generating. It’s important that we see the process. It also spells out exit strategies for these programs if they are not producing.”
Former Utah Lt. Governor Greg Bell, Chairman of the USTAR Governing Authority said, “Sen. Shiozawa has worked with us and many others to write a bill that strikes the right balance of protecting the taxpayers through principles of good oversight, while continuing USTAR’s important mission.”