With more than 5,200 high-tech companies located here, and more innovators graduating from its colleges and universities each year, Utah clearly operates as a center of high-tech entrepreneurialism. But while the state has become renowned for such advances in recent years, its roots go back a century or more.
In the mid-1800s, as the first Mormon settlers to Utah journeyed to their new home from the east, they created a wagon-wheel odometer to track how many miles they covered each day. Not long after that, in the early 1900s, a graduate of BYU invented the first electronic hearing aid; ten years later, Utah native Philo Farnsworth invented the first television set.
By the 1970s, Utah inventors boasted the first video arcade game, the first artificial arm and the first digital recording. WordPerfect was born in Utah in the seventies, as was Novell Data Systems, one of the greatest technology companies in the world. The following decades brought some of the state's greatest technological advances. The company that invented the zip drive was founded in Utah in 1980; a few years later, a Utah native co-founded Adobe Systems. Also invented in Utah during that time was the technology for large-scale genetic sequencing.By the turn of the new century, high-tech companies, including Omniture and Overstock.com, were being founded -- and finding success -- at an incredible rate of speed.
To keep that momentum going strong, Utah legislature passed H.B. 240, the Venture Capital Enhancement Act -- also known as the Fund of Funds -- in 2003. This major economic development program provides the state's entrepreneurs access to an array of quality funding sources. In 2008, funding for the program tripled, to $300 million.
In addition, the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative, a long-term, state-funded investment, was created 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 then commercialized through new business ventures.