Utah Leading the Nation in Innovative Company Creation
According to the Milken Institute’s State Technology and Science Index, Utah ranks number one in the nation for its technology concentration and dynamism. Along with the number one ranking, Utah has also garnered the number two ranking in the Inc. 500 per capita index, according to data from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
The Milken Institute’s 2012 report evaluates technology outcomes to assess how effective policymakers and other stakeholders have been at parlaying regional assets into regional prosperity. Utah’s top ranking, which it also held in 2008 and 2010 in this bi-annual ranking, shows the state’s policymakers and stakeholders are engaged in promoting an innovation driven economy.
The composite index uses ten indicators to evaluate this effectiveness. The indicators include, average yearly growth of high-tech industries, percent of employment in high-tech NAICS codes, net formation of high-tech establishments per 10,000 business establishments, percent of establishments births in high-tech NAICS codes, number of high-tech industries growing faster than U.S. average, number of Inc. 500 companies per 10,000 business establishments, percent of establishments in high-tech NAICS codes, number of high- tech industries with LQ higher than 1.0, number of technology fast 500 companies per 10,000 business establishments and percent of payroll in high-tech NAICS codes.
The State Technology and Science Index is the Milken Institute’s fifth in the decade since the first report was released in 2002. The overwhelming trend this year throughout the country is that technology and science are leading the economic recovery, and as a result, competition among the states is getting tougher. Utah leads this trend, as one of the top economies in the nation with a very robust economic growth rate of 4.0% and steadily declining unemployment rate of 4.9%.
“Utah has consistently been recognized for being on the forefront of technology-based economic growth,” said Ted McAleer, the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) executive director. “And USTAR has played a vital role by providing an infrastructure that brings academic, industry and entrepreneurial minds together in a way that accelerates this growth.”
USTAR matches up well with the effectiveness the index seeks to measure. USTAR collaborates with the University of Utah (U of U) and Utah State University (USU), in addition to regional higher education offices throughout the state to catalyze world-class research teams in strategic innovation areas. USTAR has shown success in securing some of the best talent to head up their research teams. Since its inception, USTAR has attracted leading researchers from MIT, Harvard University, UCLA, Case Western, University of Arizona, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and other top research institutions which are helping to drive Utah’s top ranking.
Another example of the state leveraging its regional resources is USTAR’s world-class research facilities opened in 2011 and 2012 on the campuses of USU and the U of U. The primary purpose of these buildings is to give USTAR’s research teams and their collaborators top-of-the-line facilities to conduct their ground-breaking research. The secondary purpose is also critical, to foster greater connections between industry, entrepreneurs and research, a connection which is recognized by this recent ranking.
Utah’s fertile ground for starting and growing businesses has driven it to #2 per capita in Inc. 500 companies. In the 1980’s, Utah companies achieved Inc. 500 company status 28 times. This number has steadily grown to 117 during the 2000’s, vaulting Utah up the list. Salt Lake City alone has 57 Inc. 500 status achieving companies, validating Utah’s innovative and entrepreneurial climate where companies can grow and thrive.
Additionally, USTAR created the Technology Outreach Innovation Program (TOIP) to be the business engine to drive commercialization activities. The TOIP team helps the state’s entrepreneurs and existing companies commercialize new technology and access the resources available at high education institutions, and with financing to drive local entrepreneurship. The program is led by four directors who head an outreach center located at one of the state’s higher educational institutions: Weber State University, USU-Uintah Basin, Utah Valley University, and Dixie State University.
“Emerging reports validate the economic development model in Utah,” said McAleer. “We have a long established entrepreneurial spirit which, when coupled with the resources and programs in the state, bolster Utah’s high-tech knowledge economy and make it one of the most dynamic in the nation.”
It is the collaboration and focus on innovation between the universities around Utah and the industry partners that has come together as part of the USTAR program. And it is this combination of facilities, human capital and entrepreneurial nature that sets Utah apart from other states.