The United States has long depended on innovation, technology, and small businesses to maintain economic prosperity and a national security advantage. While much of this economic growth has come out of hubs on the East and West Coasts, Utah has managed to create a non-traditional innovation ecosystem that has resulted in one of the nation’s fastest growing economies. But this is no time for complacency. Change is coming (as it always does), and Utah must be prepared.
One of the critical components to maintaining our economic edge is to provide more support to organic growth from startups within the state. Utah has plenty of talent and good ideas, but moving those startups into the marketplace requires infrastructure and capital. We need to open up pathways to those who could change the world, if they only had the opportunity.
That (and the skiing, of course) is the reason I came to Utah – to provide opportunity to those who were looking for it. I came to work on a progressive idea that had challenges with expectations and execution. Bringing together government, academic, and private partners we fostered innovation and watched businesses grow. As a cognitive neuroscientist with expertise in emerging technology and government defense, I believe the collaboration of public and private sectors bringing technical understanding can make the biggest impact.
As we continue to look for ways to maintain and increase Utah’s significance in a global economy, we should look to biotech as the new wave of revolution. In the last recession, biotech was one of only two sectors that continued to grow and is still growing here in Utah.
I foresee the next innovation at the intersection of medicine and data analytics, providing insight for individual patients. Imagine the possibilities if we could use big research results and apply them at a personal level and for a manageable cost. That’s what inspires me – improving the quality of life for everyone by leveling the playing field for the innovators among us.