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.

Compiled by USTAR from The Ascent of America’s High-Growth Companies: State Profiles of America’s High Growth Companies Sept. 2012. By: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Read more: Utah Pulse - Utah Leading the Nation in Innovative Company Creation

Compiled by USTAR from The Ascent of America’s High-Growth Companies: State Profiles of America’s High Growth Companies Sept. 2012. By: 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.