Utah aerospace industry on display at Farnborough Airshow

One of the world’s largest aerospace industry events, the Farnborough International Airshow, wrapped up at the end of July with skies full of contrails and impressive aerial displays.

Utah companies and government leaders, including Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox, attended the trade show to showcase Utah’s aerospace industry and to identify new opportunities that could shape the growth of the sector in the state.

The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) was one of several government and trade association groups that supported the trade mission coordinated by World Trade Center Utah.  As part of the trade mission, several Utah emerging companies working in the aerospace sector, including Design Criteria, Inc., Haight Bey & Associates, International Vibration Technology, Optisys, RAM Company and SyberJet Aircraft, participated in the Utah exhibit at the Farnborough International Airshow.

“The Farnborough Airshow allowed our entrepreneurs in the aerospace and defense industry to make connections with more customers and partners around the globe,” said Suzette Alles, COO of World Trade Center Utah. “Additionally, by hosting a Utah reception and meeting with key business leaders from industry giants, we were able to further establish Utah as a premier global destination.” 

The week-long event highlights billion-dollar aerospace and defense purchase announcements and serves as a launching pad for some of the industry’s biggest newsmakers. Additionally, multinational companies with a major Utah presence—Boeing, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, BAE, and Hexcel—were featured exhibitors throughout the event.

“It was amazing to see how much Utah’s reputation has grown with these big companies,” said Lt. Governor Cox.  “There are doors open today that were never open before.” 

Utah is one of the top states in the nation for aerospace and defense with an employment base of more than 32,000 people across nearly 900 companies and subdivisions. In 2017, the aerospace and defense industry reported record profits of $77 billion in the United States alone, according to a recent PwC industry report.

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As part of the trade show, USTAR met with several leading organizations that implement the United Kingdom’s technology-based economic development efforts, including the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, the Satellite Applications Catapult, and Innovate UK.

The Lieutenant Governor accompanied USTAR to the Satellite Applications Catapult and the Harwell Campus, a hub that provides over $2.6 billion in world-leading innovation infrastructure to researchers, scientists, inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs located throughout the United Kingdom. The campus spans over 700 acres and hosts more than 225 organizations and startups in deep science and technology fields.

USTAR, which recently opened the state’s Innovation Center in Clearfield late last year and also runs a life sciences incubator in South Salt Lake, met with leaders in the innovation community in the UK to learn best practices, identify growth opportunities, and discuss potential partnerships.

During the airshow, Norway’s Ministry of Defense successfully test fired a Joint Strike Missile from an F-16 Fighting Falcon, demonstrating the weapon’s ability to change course to avoid hitting a decoy target, and fly at low, radar-evading altitudes. The capability was developed and tested by Raytheon Company at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR), which is the largest training and testing ground in the United States. The technology and capability will be used by the Pentagon and there is a strong expectation for sales to U.S. allies, particularly NATO members.

As a productive research and manufacturing hub for some of the largest aerospace companies in the world, to emerging startups like Optisys (a USTAR-supported company) that is innovating the next generation of metal 3D printed antenna arrays, Utah’s aerospace sector is on the move.  

“It was so exciting to see that Utah and its entrepreneurs are increasingly recognized in this international space, “said Lt. Governor Cox.

To learn more about USTAR-supported companies and programs, visit ustar.org.