Utah politicians celebrate innovation, name science advisor

June 14, 2018

Gov. Herbert and Ivy Estabrooke

USTAR hosted the Utah Technology Innovation Summit last week to celebrate the state’s achievements in the field. The event featured strong pro-science and innovation statements from a variety of politicians and awards to teachers and scientists. During the opening, USTAR Director Ivy Estabrooke was named the governor’s science advisor (pictured at right). The summit was held in the same venue as SSTI’s 2018 Annual Conference.

Senatorial candidate Mitt Romney provided the event’s keynote. His talk referenced his recognition of the importance of technology transfer at MIT and the efforts he made during his time as governor of Massachusetts to expand these activities to state universities. Governor Gary Herbert and Lt. Governor Spencer Cox were other prominent politicians who spoke to the impact that an innovation economy has had for Utahan’s standard of living.

Morning panels addressed the importance of state support for innovation economies. A session on venture capital featured several investors explaining their preference for investing in strong teams with clear paths toward growth — companies that had moved beyond seed stages and were ready to scale. A follow-up panel including Brian Sherman with Arizona Commerce Authority, Terri Fiez with University of Colorado Boulder, Jennifer Ozawa with TEConomy Partners and Jason Rittenberg of SSTI, examined the roles that various TBED entities can play in cultivating innovation and catalyzing companies at stages before private investment is ready to commit.

USTAR is hosting SSTI’s 2018 Annual Conference this December 3-5 in Salt Lake City. The event will focus on “navigating the new innovation landscape,” and will expand on many topics discussed at the innovation summit, including workforce concerns, capital access and tech transfer, and will feature perspectives from policymakers and practitioners located throughout the country.