Giving technology a boost – Various ideas target life sciences industry in Utah

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development has formulated a multipronged approach to bolstering the state’s life sciences industry.

Several speakers on Thursday presented ideas to the Utah Technology Commission. Among them are the creation of a life science angel network to help boost seed investment, creation of more technology parks and formation of a life sciences/biotechnology task force to look at industry issues.

Ned Weinshenker, director of GOED’s life sciences cluster, told the commission that the state wants funding increases for the Centers of Excellence program; programs to boost early-stage funding of startups; possible tax breaks for pre-commercial companies, perhaps including sales tax breaks for equipment and supplies; and initiatives to help companies with fewer than 50 employees get better access to employee health insurance coverage.

One option for the state is to try to duplicate the success of the University of Utah Research Park by acquiring land for more business and technology parks. Doug Clark, director of business and technology parks for GOED, suggested that the state could bond to acquire land and then sell most of it to private developers.

He envisions up to three more parks of similar size to the existing Research Park, with perhaps 200 acres at the locations and more than 3 million square feet of office and technology space.

Those parks could repeat Research Park’s job creation — now at 7,000 jobs — and boost the Wasatch Front’s median wages, he said.

By Brice Wallace
Deseret Morning News

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