I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of leaders in education, government, and business this week to discuss economic development in Ogden, Utah. The meeting was hosted by Weber State University and USTAR. We learned some fascinating things about how state funds are opening the door for new technologies and innovations.
We were presented with several success stories related to innovations in technology. The first example we were presented with was the story of the PreventisMedical company and its saline solution product which is branded as Respia. At McKay Dee hospital in Ogden, one of the doctors there noticed that infections were occurring when infants with respiratory problems were placed in the NICU and fitted with traditional respiration devices. What he discovered was that the saline solution that hospitals use to clean the equipment was caustic to the infant's airways and created an environment for infection. With the help of the pharmacist in the hospital basement, a new solution was created and tested on infants in the NICU. The result was a dramatic decrease in infections and post hospital stay complications.
Obviously, this new product has broad applications across the medical industry. However, the doctor nor the hospital had experience in taking product innovations to the marketplace. That is when McKay Dee Hospital created a partnership with Weber State University. By utilizing a minimal USTAR grant, they were able to create a business plan to then receive venture capital funds from the private funding market.
The Respia product was created in April 2010 and the company will be turning its first profit in the next few months. The product has just recently gained access to the largest distributors of medical equipment in the United States and will be available nationwide shortly.
The great news is the owners expect the business to create 30 to 50 jobs.
Another success story was related to the company Enve which is located at the Ogden airport. This company recently relocated its operations from the UK to Ogden, Utah. They are builders of carbon composite biking materials. Their operations have increased to the point that they are seeking more space in the Ogden area to accommodate their growth.
Finally, we discussed a new venture being sponsored by Weber State University and USTAR to bring more entrepreneurial talent to Ogden in the software and computer programing field. The proposal (branded as Apps Inc.) involves using small seed grants (that may be repaid upon profitability) to induce small up-and-coming software companies to relocate to the Ogden area. Upon arrival, the businesses will be teamed with the business development arm of Weber State University to further develop and monetize their product in preparation for it being taken to market. WSU Vice Provost (and successful entrepreneur) Alex Lawrence will be heading the effort. This program will draw new jobs in the innovative software development industry.
It's exciting to see these local businesses growing and innovating despite a challenged economic environment. This is the kind of ingenuity and entrepreneurialism that warrants our support. Certainly, these businesses' success is a testament to the Utah worth ethos.