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Conference to Aid Inventors, Small Businesses

March 14, 2003 — Individual inventors, researchers, and small business operators who are developing or are interested in commercializing their inventions are invited to attend a conference aimed at helping them find financial, business, and technical support.

The Utah Engineering Experiment Station (UEES) at the University of Utah is co-sponsoring – with the law firm Stoel Rives and the Battelle consulting institute – the “Innovations Showcase and Inventions to Commercialization Conference” March 19 and 20 in the Olpin Union Building on the University of Utah campus. The sessions on Weds. March 19 will run from 6 to 9 p.m., and those on Thurs. March 20 will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. News reporters are invited to cover the conference free of charge.

New this year is an “Innovations Showcase,” where 50 new technologies developed in the past five years by universities, national labs, small businesses and individual inventors will be displayed in the university’s Olpin Union ballroom on Weds. March 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. The public is invited to attend the showcase without paying the conference registration fee. The booths also will be open throughout the conference on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The conference will focus on helping inventors successfully commercialize their technologies and will include workshops on writing winning proposals, protecting ideas, and preparing and implementing marketing and business plans. The conference will present information on the $1.6 billion annual Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards from the federal government. Utah’s small businesses typically win 80 to 100 SBIR awards each year. Over the past five years, Utah’s small businesses have obtained about $100 million in SBIR awards.

The conference will also present in-state and federal representatives who will assist participants in developing their projects. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Navy, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will meet one-on-one with small business operators to discuss the relevance of these technologies to the federal programs. Also, representatives from Dugway Proving Ground and Hill Air Force Base will be on hand to discuss their interests.

During a lunch, beginning at 11:50 a.m. March 20, the annual UEES Pathfinder Award will be presented to Douglas M. Chabries, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology at BYU, and a pioneer involved in research to increase the sound clarity for the hearing impaired by improving the way sound is processed (digital hearing aids). He is a co-founder of Sonic Innovations. Six Stoel Rives’ Innovation of the Year awards will also be awarded to winners in biotechnology, chemical and pharmaceuticals, medical devices, computer software/web service, electrical devices, and mechanical devices

Conference participants also are invited to attend up to three workshops on March 20. Titles of the workshops are: How to Prepare Winning Proposals, How to Protect Ideas and Other Legal Issues, How to Prepare a Business/Marketing Plan, Driving Free Traffic to Your Web Site, What to do With Your Invention, and How to Win an SBIR Grant.

The conference fee is $95 if paid by March 17. Students and seniors pay $65. Registration at the door is $115. To register online, go to and pay with a credit card. To register by phone, call Janeen Bennion at (801) 581-6348.