USTAR Recognized for Role in Expanding Utah’s Innovation Economy

The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative has been awarded the Expanding Research Capacity award at the 2013 State Science and Technology Institute’s Excellence in Technology Based Economic Development national award program.


According to SSTI, six organizations were named winners of SSTI’s 2013 Excellence in TBED award, serving as national models for states and regions investing in science, technology and innovation to grow their economies and create high-paying jobs.

“Since its inception in 2006, USTAR has enhanced Utah’s research capacity by skillfully connecting private, public and higher education assets in the state,” said Dan Berglund, SSTI president & CEO. “Through USTAR’s efforts, the state has recruited numerous world-class researchers, increased R&D funding attraction and spurred economic growth.”

USTAR is the sixth organization to win this award since the introduction of the awards program. Past winners include the Georgia Research Alliance, a program used to benchmark the USTAR program during its creation in 2006.

“This award really is an acknowledgment to the foresight and commitment of the state’s lawmakers and business community.” said Ted McAleer, executive director of USTAR. “We are fortunate to have the continued support of Governor Gary R. Herbert and the State’s legislature who see USTAR as an economic engine for the state. It gives me great pride that USTAR has been recognized by a committee of our peers and by a national association of professionals that study economic development best practices.”

“In a short amount of time, USTAR has put in place the innovation capacity building blocks for a diversified knowledge economy,” McAleer said. “We are seeing some very exciting results and based on the pace of our commercialization efforts, I am confident about the future success.”

An example of the new technologies include Utah State University’s STORM (Sounding Tracking Observatory for Regional Meteorology) project. The first STORM sensor, set to launch in 2016 and currently being built in Logan, Utah, will soon sit across the Asia-Pacific region roughly 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. The innovative sensors represent collaboration between USU, the Advanced Weather Systems Foundation (AWS), and industry partners GeoMetWatch and  Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat).

Among the list of additional projects is Vaporsens, a University of Utah spinout company. Vaporsens offers a new device for the detection of explosives and narcotics and has been developed by USTAR researcher Ling Zane and has been funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security. Another is iUtah (Innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability). iUtah is a collaborative, statewide effort dedicated to maintaining and improving water sustainability in Utah. Funded by the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) this five-year, $20 million competitive award will assist in building the human and research infrastructure needed to sustainably manage Utah’s water resources.

“We are honored to receive the 2013 Excellence in TBED Award from the State Science and Technology Institute,” said Dinesh Patel, chairman of the USTAR board. “USTAR is establishing new collaborations and reaching out to industry every day to continue to propel Utah’s economy forward. We are excited to be part of the national community driving innovation and to play a role in the state’s growth.”