Putting Utah Technologies on the Fast Track

University of Utah and USTAR foster innovation and economic growth with new Accelerator

September 30, 2010 — Developing new technologies and products just got a lot easier for Utah technology companies.

The University of Utah and the Utah Science and Technology Research Initiative (USTAR) have opened the doors to the Accelerator — a new 10,000-square-foot facility that promises to give budding companies the support, space and equipment needed to develop and refine their technologies and products. The Accelerator is managed by the university’s Technology Commercialization Office (TCO), which helps researchers, faculty and inventors protect their inventions and turn them into viable businesses.

“This is not your typical [business] incubator,” says Brian Cummings, the director of TCO. “Incubators usually just help companies for a limited time and focus on basic business needs like creating a business or marketing plan. The Accelerator goes way beyond that by providing customized services and facilities for medical device and life-science companies to develop rapid prototypes of their medical breakthroughs and begin the clinical process. This is about speed to market and creating the proper environment to succeed.”

The Accelerator opening is the culmination of a long-term strategic vision and funding from the university and USTAR, as well as months of intense planning, construction and equipment purchases. The space consists of offices and labs on the third floor of the TCO at 615 Arapeen Drive, Research Park. The views from the space are enough to inspire any researcher, but it’s what’s inside that is really impressive.

“We’ve created a critical infrastructure,” says Wayne Parris, business manager of the Accelerator and veteran product development manager. “Included are offices, wet and dry lab space, a secure clean room, a mill, precision lathe, laser welder and much more equipment on the way.”

Parris says the Accelerator houses qualified personnel with industry experience in commercializing products. “Our main goal is to reduce the time and funds required by the researcher or inventor to establish such an infrastructure,” and to “provide services to maximize use of critical resources allowing them to maintain focus on their technologies,” he continues.

But the available equipment and space are only part of the equation. Because of its location within the TCO, the companies that occupy the space will have the added benefit of accessing personnel with extensive experience in setting up and structuring early-stage technology companies, bringing the business, funding and regulatory strategy together with the world-class inventions for which Utah is known.

“The university Accelerator offers inventors and scientists a unique and unprecedented opportunity to see their ideas become realities faster than ever before,” says Richard Linder, a USTAR board member and local businessman. “There is no other model or facility like this in the country.”

The Accelerator has already secured its first tenant: Catheter Connections. With the availability of a clean room, the company is quickly moving toward production of its new DualCapTM device, which kills bacteria known to cause some infections. The U has been instrumental in developing and commercializing the device as many of the people involved in the company work on campus.

“We were very excited to hear about the Accelerator,” says Vicki Farrar, CEO and co-founder of Catheter Connections. Farrar says she “didn’t know” where she could go to develop the product, and “at the same time retain the low-cost infrastructure so vital to a startup.” Without the Accelerator, Farrar says, her company would face a slower, more expensive road toward introducing their product, which she hopes will be a key tool in helping hospitals reduce catheter-related bloodstream infections, “one of the most deadly and costly hospital infections,” she notes.

USTAR is one of the major backers in the Accelerator project. The state initiative – which has already made an impact on the state’s technology sector by bringing top-level researchers to Utah – deployed federal stimulus funds to launch the Accelerator.

“We can think of few better investments than helping researchers bridge the gap from invention to commercialization,” says Ted McAleer, executive director of USTAR.

Learn more by contacting Wayne Parris, Accelerator business manager, at 801-587-0357 or wayne.parris@tco.utah.edu.


About the Technology Commercialization Office

The Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) is responsible for managing the intellectual properties of the University of Utah. TCO’s mission is to facilitate the commercialization of the university’s scientific and technical research findings for the benefit of the citizens of Utah and the general public through the evaluation, management, protection and licensing of the university’s intellectual property. Learn more at www.tco.utah.edu.

About USTAR

The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) is a long-term, state-funded investment to strengthen Utah’s “knowledge economy.” This revolutionary initiative invests in world-class innovation teams and research facilities at the University of Utah and Utah State University to create novel technologies that are subsequently commercialized through new business ventures. Learn more at www.innovationutah.com.

Media Contacts For This Story

marketing and public relations, Lassonde Entrepreneur Center
Office Phone: 801-587-8811
Email address: thad.kelling@utah.edu
 
Office Phone: (801) 538-8879
Email address: momalley@utah.gov
 
Accelerator Business Manager, Technology Commercialization Office, the University of Utah
Office Phone: (801) 587-0357