National conference to highlight Utah’s innovation economy

Next week, Salt Lake City will welcome federal, state, and local government officials, investors, and stakeholders from economic development agencies, nonprofits, and higher education from across the country to discuss best practices in utilizing science and technology to promote economic growth and prosperity.

The 2018 SSTI Annual Conference will take place Dec. 3-5, 2018, at the Salt Lake City Marriott Downtown at City Creek. The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) is serving as the host partner for the conference, which is organized by SSTI (State Science and Technology Institute), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting initiatives that encourage economic development through science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

This year’s conference will focus on Navigating the New Innovation Landscape and how technology-based economic development (TBED) can be a strategic tool to grow local and state economies.

Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox will be the event’s keynote speaker. As a native of rural Utah, Lt. Governor Cox has extensively advocated for the necessity of science, technology, and innovation in developing new economies to ensure prosperity across rural and urban areas in Utah.

“When you look at the diversity of our economy right now, deep tech sectors like life sciences and aerospace are huge pieces of what’s making this state go,” Cox noted earlier this year at the Utah Technology Innovation Summit. “If you’re not innovating, if you’re not playing in this space, it’s really difficult to make a living right now.”

During the conference, event attendees will have the opportunity to learn how Utah is leading the nation in building an innovation economy through its deep science and technology sectors, such as the life sciences and clean tech industries.

“While traditional economic development activities may cut across a wide array of industries, TBED focuses specifically on growing the innovation economy,” said Dan Berglund, president and CEO of SSTI. “By encouraging the development of research capacity at businesses and universities, and investing in the infrastructure necessary for competitiveness –areas such as education, workforce training, broadband, and a stable business environment—states can better orient their economies around technology-based jobs.”

A breakout panel titled the Secrets of Utah’s Innovation Success Story will explore why and how Utah has consistently led the nation with one of the highest rates of real income growth and science and engineering workforce growth. The panel will include Steve Borst, the managing director of Upstart Ventures, an early stage healthcare investment fund; Ivy Estabrooke, Ph.D., executive director for corporate executive programs at PolarityTE, a Utah-based biotechnology company; Miles Hansen, the president & CEO of World Trade Center Utah; and Keith Marmer the executive director and associate vice president for Technology & Venture Commercialization at the University of Utah.

Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from speakers from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Department of Energy, and Department of Commerce, among others.

Registration for the event is still open. To view the full agenda or register, visit