Wasatch Innovation Network launched to promote Utah innovation and business

From aerospace, agriculture and artificial intelligence to biosciences, engineering, and transportation, the new Wasatch Innovation Network will support Utah businesses — start-ups to unicorns — with network development, funding channels, policy development, government relations, and support for research, development and commercialization.

Public and private sector organizations across Utah gathered Tuesday to announce a statewide multi-industry initiative to promote research, development and commercialization with the goal of developing Utah as a global innovation economy. The new organization called the Wasatch Innovation Network (WIN) is a 501(c)6 nonprofit that will promote Utah as an international leader in innovation, technology transfer, manufacturing and marketing, as well as offer support services to businesses throughout the state.

“There are many moving parts in any innovation ecosystem, and the time is right to connect the whole Wasatch Front,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance, in announcing the new initiative at a press conference hosted with TechBuzz News and Colliers International. “We hear leaders talk more and more about Utah becoming the ‘Crossroads of the World’ and an important way we will achieve this is by developing a best-in-class innovation economy. Our collective goal with the Wasatch Innovation Network is to begin connecting laterally in a way that promotes innovation, creates commercialization, introduces new possibilities, and attracts talent that increases our national leadership.”

The Wasatch Innovation Network will connect industry to capital, startup to incumbent, and academia to market, with the purpose of creating a team of teams to scale out Utah’s innovation ecosystem. The organization will provide services that include:

  • Policy development and government relations;
  • National and international marketing of Utah as a leader in innovation, technology transfer, and ever-expanding opportunity for investment;
  • Public communications support for innovation R&D and Commercialization;
  • Support for start-ups that includes mentoring, network development, assistance with capitalization, national and international engagement, and technology transfer from universities;
  • Regular meetings for organizational development, member needs and interests, and networking opportunities;
  • Strategic coordination between government, state universities, chambers of commerce — all WIN partners.
  • Industry specific committees in areas including Aerospace, Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence, Biomedical, Computer Hardware/Software Development, Cybersecurity, Energy, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Healthcare, Human Potential, Infrastructure, Internet of Things, and Transportation.

The Wasatch Innovation Network will bring together leaders and institutions to drive innovation across silos to broaden economic appeal and commercialization. The new organization plans to focus on four cardinal values around mentorship, growth, innovation, and acceleration to drive results for each participating group. 

“Salt Lake City has made an expanded life sciences hub a key focus of its Tech Lake City Initiative,” said Kelly McAleer, an account executive with the Kenney Group and former head of BioUtah. “In South Salt Lake and Salt Lake County, the BioInnovations Gateway continues to serve as a magnet for the next generation of healthcare innovators with its high school experiential learning initiatives and a new life sciences incubator, called O-Zone, and it will be opening soon.”

Additionally, this network will help craft a unified vision for our entrepreneurial ecosystem as there are key developments happening in Utah around innovation such as the Point of the Mountain and Falcon Hill Aerospace Research Park. The Wasatch Innovation Network will have a voice in these developments and support smart innovation policy. Utah can develop a first-in-the-nation innovation blueprint for other states to model.

According to other founding members in attendance:

“As a leader in developing and maintaining collaboration, Weber State University is excited to join the Salt Lake Chamber and other partners to launch the Wasatch Innovation Network,” said Brad Mortensen, president of Weber State University. “We see many opportunities to foster an innovative, entrepreneurial, and collaborative ecosystem that strengthens the output and inclusivity of Utah’s economy, providing for improved lives and livelihoods for all of our diverse populations.”

“The founding values and purpose of the Wasatch Innovation Network — to connect and expand opportunities for communities and organizations through strong partnership — align perfectly with WFRC’s mission,” said Andrew Gruber, Wasatch Front Regional Council Executive Director. “Through the Wasatch Choice Regional Vision, which is built on a foundation of partnerships, we strive to improve quality of life along the Wasatch Front, by coordinating the location of well-planned housing, educational, workplace and recreational opportunities with streets, transit, and trails. The Wasatch Innovation Network will help to enhance and strengthen these connections across the Wasatch Front.”

“I am excited for the University of Utah to be part of the new Wasatch Innovation Network,” said Michael L. Good, MD, interim president of University of Utah and CEO of University of Utah Health. “As one of America’s leading research universities, the U has an important role in Utah’s innovation ecosystem. To bring innovative ideas to market requires a network of support and partnerships. And this initiative leverages public and private collaborations to do just that for our students, researchers, and ultimately our community.”

“Utah’s technology sector continues to make waves and to see where our next big tech boom will come from, you need to look up — to space and beyond, ” said Greg Manuel, vice president and general manager of the Strategic Deterrent Systems Division at Northrop Grumman. Utah’s aerospace industry is fueled by an ‘innovation imperative’ across the civil, defense, and space sectors. We are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in space to drive next-level innovations and secure our future against evolving threats.”

“The Wasatch Innovation Network will be a collaborative tool to help strengthen and build competitive businesses along the Wasatch Front,” said Jay Francis, President/CEO of the South Valley Chamber. “Utah businesses have proven time and time again that by working together and sharing strengths and insights makes everyone stronger and more successful. The term ‘Network’ really says it all, and as our businesses come together and network across city and county boundaries we will once again be a standard for innovation for other states to follow.”

Founding members of the organization include:

Founding partners of the Wasatch Innovation Network include Clarke Capital Partners, Colliers International, Davis Chamber of Commerce, EDCUtah, Envision Utah, FatPipe, Gardner Companies, The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Nomi Health, Northrop Grumman, Ogden Weber Chamber of Commerce, Owlet, Point of the Mountain Chamber of Commerce, Provo City, Salt Lake City, South Valley Chamber, Spiff, TechBuzz News, Utah Valley University, The University of Utah Office of the President, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Weber State University, and Women Tech Council.

For more information, visit slchamber.com/wasatch-innovation-network.