Utah Technology Innovation Summit to explore clean air, rural economic development policy challenges

On April 1, 2019, entrepreneurs, researchers, business leaders and policy experts will come together at the second annual Utah Technology Innovation Summit to discuss ways Science-based technology innovation can shape Utah’s economy, policies and business climate.

After the success of last year’s sold-out conference, which included speakers U.S. Senator Mitt Romney and U.S. Congressman Ben McAdams, the 2019 Summit will include a dedicated breakout session track on Tech & Policy.  The track will explore how innovation and new Science-based technology is pivotal to addressing some of Utah’s most pressing policy challenges affecting the health and welfare of Utah citizens.

“At the most fundamental level, science-based technology makes it possible for us to solve problems, such as how we treat illnesses or provide clear air and safer energy alternatives,” said Barbara Araneo, Ph.D., USTAR acting executive director. “These particular breakout sessions will explore the use of the role of hard sciences and the corresponding technology to address some of the problems that Utah is facing as a state.”

The Tech & Policy track will include two breakout sessions, the first titled, Addressing Utah’s Air Quality Challenges through Technological Innovation, and a second on Growing Opportunities in Rural Utah through Technology-Based Economic Development.

20190313 USTAR

Thom Carter, executive director of UCAIR (Utah Clean Air Partnership), will lead the breakout discussion on addressing Utah’s air quality challenges. He will be joined on the panel by Kerry Kelly, a professor at the University of Utah whose work focuses on the links between energy, air quality and human health; Alan Matheson, executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality; Scott Williams, executive director of HEAL Utah, a nonprofit focused on using science-based solutions for policy challenges; and Rikki Hrenko-Browning, president of the Utah Petroleum Association.

“The bottom line is, while our air is getting cleaner, we will always have inversions,” said Carter. “In the last 15 years, we saw a 32 percent increase in population in the state, but we also saw a 38 percent decrease in emissions, but we still have inversions… we have to mitigate the problem.”

The second Tech & Policy breakout session will explore ways science and technology-based early-stage companies and other firms can enhance economic development initiatives in rural Utah. Ginger Chinn, managing director of urban and rural development at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, will moderate the panel. Chinn will be joined by Don Willie, executive director of the Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Dixie State University; Nathan Millcham, CEO of EP Systems, an aerospace battery manufacturing company located in Logan Utah; and George Hansen, founder of Conductive Composites, an advanced materials company with operations in both Wasatch and Emery Counties.

In addition to the breakout session tracks on tech & policy, both the morning and afternoon plenary sessions will explore trends at the state and federal levels in innovation policy.

The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt—who served as the governor of Utah, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—will give the Summit’s keynote address.

Former Governor Leavitt spent sixteen years in public service as a leader in both state and federal government. Throughout his career, Leavitt has been recognized and valued as a champion of innovative strategies to ensure long-term economic growth, whether as a governor who saw the future of workforce development in online higher education, an EPA administrator who championed higher standards for air pollutants, or as a secretary of Health and Human Services who recognized the need to reform healthcare.

To learn more about the Utah Technology Innovation Summit and register, visit utahinnovationsummit.org. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, parking and all conference sessions and materials.