Since Utah’s earliest beginnings, innovation has been key to the state’s success and survival. Finding only one tree living in the Salt Lake Valley, the pioneers immediately began planting crops, building cities and literally transforming the desert into a prosperous place of growth. It’s no surprise that Utah continues in that innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.
The 2011 Utah Innovation Awards, presented by Stoel Rives and the Utah Technology Council, honor the modern-day pioneers who venture to change the future with their new ideas. Richard Nelson, UTC founder and CEO, says Utah continues to lead the way in innovation. “Innovation is alive and well. We continue to get more applicants and the level of their accomplishment continues to seem to be more than the last year and in prior years. The number and quality is up,” he says. This year a new natural products category was added in order to recognize some of the innovation taking place in Utah’s approximately $7 billion natural products industry.
Loren R. Hulse, Stoel Rives partner and 2011 Utah Innovation Awards co-chairman, says, “Stoel Rives is pleased to have the opportunity to honor innovative accomplishments in our state that are creating jobs and driving industries forward in Utah and beyond.” This will be the ninth year of the awards, but great ideas keep coming forward, says Hulse. “Every year that we host the Utah Innovation Awards program, we [Stoel Rives] and the selection committee are struck with the inventiveness, ambition and determination of Utahns to make a difference in their respective industries and Utah’s business community.”
Please join us in recgonizing the 2011 Utah Innovation Awards finalists.
Clean Technology & Energy
Solid Carbon Products LLC
Innovation: CO2 Catalytic Converter
The CO2 Catalytic Converter changes CO2 from a destructive molecule to a useful one, and can do it at one-tenth of the cost and in a more environmentally friendly fashion than its competitors. Using its patented method, Solid Carbon Products can convert CO2 into pure water and nanotubes (CNTs). CNTs are an industrial material in high demand for applications ranging from aerospace to electronics. They are the strongest material currently known with a density 1,000 times better than copper.
“We became focused on the problem of making carbon nanotubes inexpens-ively and in vast quantities when our son joined the Army, becoming a platoon leader in Bagdad in 2007,” says Dallas B. Noyes, president of Solid Carbon Products LLC. “We were very motivated to find lighter, stronger armor to protect the wonderful young people serving in the armed forces.”
The company raised $10 million capital raise in January 2011 and plans to have its first plants running and achieving profitability by late 2011.
Innovation: Portable Solar Power Full-System Kits
Originally created to provide power for humanitarian efforts in the Republic of Congo, where the power grid is not reliable, GOAL ZERO’s solar power systems are now available for a wide array of uses. Though the company’s solar-powered charger would be helpful in a disaster, the device can also be used while charging a cell phone, computer or lantern while camping, or in the car or at home for everyday use. GOAL ZERO’s kit includes a clean, self-sustaining power source, new to the market. GOAL ZERO’s $99 Nomad 7M, which includes a 7-watt output, is twice as powerful as its competitor retailing at $160.88.
“GOAL ZERO isn’t making a known product better; our innovation is creating an entirely new industry,” says Joe Atkin, president. “GOAL ZERO has released more solar products than any solar company in the industry—the most innovative, creative and easy-to-use products designed to power everyday life.”
Pierre Lassonde Center
Innovation: SensiMat Solar
With a projected generation of $6.7 million by its third year in operation, a net income of $2.5 million and a pro-jected market of $900 million by 2014, the SensiMat Solar is green in more than one way. SensiSolar, SensiMat’s patented technology, turns tents and backpacks into mobile chargers, extends battery life of any portable electronic device and turns windows into solar panels. How? By sensitizing dye used to print on these items with solar cells. Ashutosh Tiwari, associate professor of nano-materials at the University of Utah, developed the new class of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) using nanoplant-like electrodes.
“Current DSSC technology has a lifetime of less than two years because the liquid electrolyte slowly leaks out of the cell over time,” says Tiwari. “Our product, SensiSolar, replaces the liquid electrolyte with a solid-state electrolyte, which drastically increases the lifetime of the cell several fold.”
Computer Hardware/Electrical Devices
Innovation: 9-1-1 in the Sky
When a business’ phone communications goes down due to an outage or disaster, the downtime can be costly not only from a monetary standpoint, but can be detrimental to the company’s operations or even result in the loss of lives. Telecom Recovery’s 9-1-1 in the Sky aims to prevent unnecessary costs and damages by enabling any existing phone system to switch over to a satellite connection, restoring normal functionality and turning every connected station into a satellite phone.
Tim Ruff, CEO of Telecom Recovery, says, “To protect a 9-1-1 dispatch center, 9-1-1 in the Sky intercepts 9-1-1 calls from the carrier and delivers them via satellite into the center’s existing equipment, where dispatchers can assist callers in the same manner they normally would.” Ruff says some complicated and expensive solutions have been available in the past, but this cloud-based intelligence works on the fly, making it easy to adapt to changing circumstances (particularly necessary during a disaster), and allowing for high-quality communication as usual.
Telecom Recovery currently serves customers in more than 40 states, servicing organizations of all sizes and from more than 35 industries.
Kairos Autonomi, Inc.
Innovation: Pronto4 Robotics Appliqué Kit
Kairos Autonomi is in final negotiation stages of a $40 million contract with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) that would make Kairos Autonomi the No. 1 U.S. manufacturer of full-size unmanned ground vehicle systems. What makes the Pronto4 Robotics Appliqué Kit stand out against competitors is its unique ability to be installed on any ground vehicle (with a steering wheel or skid steer control) and its standardized hardware interface for operating human controls inside a vehicle, as well as its platform for integrating third party technology enhancers (hardware sensors, data links and software). It is also more economical, adding up to 20 percent of the cost of developing a robotic system from the ground up.
“Because of its affordability, capability and universality, the Pronto4 Robotic Appliqué Kit is a unique and innovative concept that is altering the thinking of what a robotic system should be,” says Jean Takach, vice president of Kairos Autonomi, Inc. Takach says the robotics market is in its infancy so market growth will be extensive, especially as it moves into commercial applications.
Video cameras and passive infrared detectors have been used since the 1960s for security purposes. Xandem Technology offers an updated solution with the Sentinel. The Sentinel uses wireless network sensing to detect movement, allowing the sensor to be concealed behind walls, doors or furniture while making an accurate reading of quick and slow motions. The system can also account for the number of people present in a 1,000-square-foot area.
“We surround areas with small, inexpensive and low-power wireless transceivers where each device communicates with the others forming a dense web of radio waves that blanket the area and form a powerful high tech framework,” says Joey Wilson, Xandem founder and president.
Sentinel is finding a place not only in security, but also in elderly and child care, even preventing teenagers from throwing a party when mom and dad are out of town.
Enterprise Software and Web-Enabled B2B Solutions
Liqwid, a LeftsnRights brand
Innovation: Liqwid Ads
Liqwid Ads dynamically fill the empty space between a webpage and the edge of the browser—monetizing valuable and unused web real estate created by large monitors and high screen resolutions. Liqwid technology both fills this space with ads and, for the first time, tracks the reach and frequency of online ads. “Liqwid technology guarantees that ads are not only delivered, but always viewed by visitors,” says CEO Nikolai Mentchoukov.
The pioneering technology con-tinuously measures available space so ads can dynamically adjust to new dimensions without distorting the appearance of the content. Additionally, Liqwid Ads can be up to three times larger than typical online ads, and they support creative and interactive content such as games, video or social media.
“Liqwid ads increase user engagement and branding value without disrupting the user experience. Liqwid ads do not float, pop up or block content in any way,” says Mentchoukov.
Once project tasks are divvyed up, most team members work independently and each is unsure of the others’ progress—including the project leader. TeamHome by AtTask is a work management platform that turns this scenario on its head. Following the lead of social media, TeamHome users are empowered to accept or re-assign new tasks, as well as negotiate timelines and task details. Team members can also list all their tasks to create a complete picture of everything they are committed to.
“You could think of this as the Facebook for work,” says Scott Johnson, founder and CEO of AtTask. “This is how people communicate naturally.”
TeamHome also enables managers and leaders to plan and schedule projects, implement time reporting, map goals and initiatives, and create reports, among other strategic functions. “It empowers project leaders to look forward and make decisions based on what will happen next week, instead of running around putting out fires because of what didn’t happen last week,” says Johnson.
ProPay’s new mobile technology, Zumogo, turns a smartphone into a payment device. With ProPay’s secure payment processing software, mobile payments can be both secure and convenient. No cardholder data is provided to the merchant, making the transaction more secure than traditional purchase methods. Additionally, no payment data is stored on the smartphone—protecting it from would-be thieves.
Zumogo is also social and interactive. “Leveraging the geo-location services on smartphones, consumers can locate nearby Zumogo-enabled merchants and see what special offers may be available,” says Gary Goodrich, CEO, president and director of ProPay. “Users can upload a variety of payment methods, including credit or debit cards, or bank account information, and then use Zumogo to make payments at participating merchants.”
Retailers can accept payments through Zumogo without buying any equipment or software—Zumogo can integrate directly with the merchant’s existing payment infrastructure.
Consumer Software and Internet
Innovation: Net Nanny Mobile for Android
Innovation: Net Nanny Mobile for iOS
“Smartphones and tablets have taken over. Children and adults need help staying safe and productive while mobile and online,” says Russ Warner, CEO of Salt Lake City-based ContentWatch, Inc. Net Nanny, ContentWatch’s flagship product, is a market leader in content filtering for Windows and Mac. This summer, the company will release Net Nanny technology for Android and iOS with mobile solutions providing threat protection, security and productivity tools, as well as its award-winning web-filtering capabilities. Some of those capabilities include blocking and allowing categories, custom white listing and black listing of URLs and domains, remote web-based management and reporting, and real-time contextual filtering of web content for all browsers and applications on the device.
Text message management, remote lock and wipe, remote back-up and restore, remote ring, and device location services are a few of the applications tailored to mobile devices. Warner says ContentWatch’s innovations for specific operating systems help keep it simple for the user. “Mobile devices are built to be simple and provide specific functions. Smartphones and tablets are constantly evolving to provide additional func-tionality found in desktop and laptop computers, but mobile operating systems invariably have key differences.”
Innovation: Skullcandy Virtual Room
Visitors to Skullcandy’s website can “try on” its Roc Nation Aviator Headphones through a unique Virtual Room developed by Rain. Working through a user’s webcam, the application uses eye-tracking technology so a visitor can see a virtual image of the headphones on his or her own head.
One of the first online “virtual dressing rooms,” the technology brings the Skullcandy experience right into a user’s home and workplace, further integrating the brand to where people live, work and play, say Rain partners Daniel Hatch and Andrew Howlett.
The Virtual Room also taps into peer-to-peer networks by enabling users to record and share their fitting room experience. And in an added twist, visitors can click a “blow your mind” button, which “explodes” their head into the image of the Skullcandy skull—an effect that can also be shared on social networking platforms.
Innovation: Validated Citizen Feedback
Elected officials are often flooded with a wave of citizen comments in all forms: voice mails, emails, letters and even Tweets. Icount.com provides an online community for residents to engage in dialogue with their elected officials at all levels—local, state and national. But the platform also confirms residency, so representatives can be assured that comments are from constituents who are residing within their city, district or state.
“Icount validates users through a partnership with city offices and by comparing key information with multiple databases to increase confidence in the constituency of the user. This process eliminates a large portion of outside noise…making elected officials more willing to engage, listen and act on information from icount users,” explains Troy Bingham, CEO of icount.com.
Icount.com has initially targeted local governments to demonstrate how residents can have a real impact on policies that hit close to home.
Innovation: Domain Surgical System
The Domain Surgical System empowers surgeons with more precision and safety for cutting tissue and controlling bleeding. Modern devices that use electricity to heat tissue and control bleeding have several drawbacks, including difficulty controlling the heat to precisely cut and cauterize tissue, slow heat-up and cool-down times, stray electrical energy causing collateral tissue damage, among many other problems.
Domain Surgical’s novel technology operates on ferromagnetic induction, which enables the tip of the instrument to instantly heat and cool and eliminates the risk of inadvertent damage to tissue, particularly in sensitive areas like the brain. “We have some very early evidence that our device produces superior healing,” says David McNally, founder and CEO of Domain Surgical. “If we’re damaging the tissue less, it’s only natural that the wound will heal more quickly.”
The device will initially be marketed to neurosurgeons and spine surgeons, who require a high degree of precision and control. However, McNally says the device will ultimately benefit every surgical specialty.
Innovation: Optically-Guided Feeding Tube
Each year, roughly 6,000 patients die from complications of having a feeding tube incorrectly placed into their lungs. In fact, most feeding tubes are placed “blindly,” without any guidance or feedback. The feeding tube enters the lung at least once during 30 percent of all placements, requiring withdrawal and reinsertion. And the only way to confirm correct placement before initiating feedings is with an X-ray.
“Veritract addresses all of these issues by building optics and steering into our feeding tubes, allowing them to be placed at the bedside and visually guided into place. Since the tube can be visualized directly in the intestinal tract, there is no need for costly and time-consuming X-ray confirmation,” explains Arlo McGinn, director of business and clinical development for Veritract.
“Veritract is the only technology that allows the clinician to place the tube quickly while immediately and con-clusively determining the tube has been positioned correctly every time,” he adds.
Innovation: The Vutara SR-200 Microscope
Imagine actually watching a cell turn cancerous or seeing, in real time, a virus invade a cell. These scenarios are now possible, thanks to the Vutara SR-200 biplane, the first commercial light microscope capable of imaging single live molecules in 3D. The SR-200 breaks the current resolution limit of light microscopes by an incredible factor of 10. No other instrument provides the same possibilities as the SR-200. Electron microscopes, for example, can only look at fixed subjects that are no longer alive.
Vutara’s advanced SRX software, which obtains 3D information about a sample without additional imaging/analysis time, makes the SR-200 a vital research tool for several key applications—such as advanced 3D particle tracking—which have previously required extensive optical development skills, programming expertise and custom-built microscope setups. Ultimately, the Vutara microscope will enable researchers to understand life on the level of single molecules, leading to new discovery in every category and discipline of life science.
Utah State University Research Foundation’s Energy Dynamics Laboratory
Innovation: High Capacity Wireless Power Transfer
Tired of ever-increasing prices at the gas pump? Researchers at Utah State University Research Foundation’s Energy Dynamics Laboratory have created technology that makes electric cars closer to becoming a more reliable transporta-tion option. Their innovation, referred to as High Capacity Wireless Power Transfer (HCWPT), allows electric vehicles to be charged through wireless transfer of electricity, which means that vehicles can be charged while on the move without actually being plugged into a stationary charging device.
“In simple terms, HCWPT technology can transfer power to a receiving device over a fairly large gap, thereby opening the door for all sectors of the energy market including utility grids to become energy suppliers to electric vehicles,” says Paul Israelsen, deputy director of the Energy Dynamics Laboratory. “This will lower the cost of electric vehicles, increase consumer safety and range of mobility, and advance U.S. energy independence.”
Innovation: Monorail Transportation System
Hilltrac’s Monorail Transportation System may soon be a staple transportation mode at local ski resorts. Unlike traditional monorails, Hilltrac’s system can be installed over any terrain type, including vertical, curved and looped configurations. The system uses battery-powered carriage vehicles that are mounted to the monorail and are able to travel the entire length of the monorail’s path in either direction or can make stops at stations along the way. On top of its unique ability to cross nonlinear pathways, Hilltrac’s system includes top-of-the-line safety features and can be configured to pre-compensate for banking during turns, accelerations
“We strove to create a product which overcame the limits and offered ultimate safety,” says David Metivier, Hilltrac director. “Having autonomous vehicles opens us up to a myriad of designs including multiple vehicle systems running on loops or single lines. This allows us to increase capacities as necessary using the same loadings and track design. Ultimately we would like to see our system used for bi-directional, on-demand people movers offering great efficiency and energy savings.”
If the iPad is your favorite tech gadget, the ZAGGmate might become your favorite accessory (if it isn’t already). The ZAGGmate is an all-in-one carrying device that offers more than the standard iPad protection. Unlike other carrying devices, the ZAGGmate includes a wireless keyboard that allows for typing and interaction with the iPad, a hinge stand that makes viewing and typing easy, and aircraft-grade aluminum protection. The device’s battery also gives users the ability to go weeks without charging, depending on use. Since its launch in November 2010, ZAGG has sold more than 100,000 ZAGGmate units.
“The ZAGGmate’s success highlights the product’s ability to protect and enhance the iPad experience, all in one sleek design,” says Robert G. Pedersen II, co-founder and CEO of ZAGG. “The ZAGGmate weighs a mere 12.8 ounces, only adds one-fourth inch in width to the iPad and eliminates the need to carry separate keyboards like many other products currently on the market.”
Outdoor & Consumer Products
Innovation: Inertia X Frame
At 9.1 ounces, Klymit’s Inertia X Frame is the world’s lightest, most compact full-length camping pad. The pad, which can be packed down to the size of a standard soda can and can be inflated using only two to four breaths, uses body mapping technology that provides support and comfort in key pressure zones allowing off-the-trail adventurists to have a sound night’s sleep anywhere they trek.
Klymit CEO Nate Alder says his goal is to create outdoor products and technological advancements that can be shared among industries. “Sometimes innovators don’t look beyond their own goals when developing a new product or technology,” he says. “We are constantly looking around at all the amazing advancements in the world and wondering how we can make them into a solution that can benefit our customers.”
Easton Technical Products
Innovation: KILO Backpacking Tent
Since 1922, Easton Mountain Products has been a leading innovator in the outdoor products industry. And the Salt Lake-based company has no plans to slow down soon. The company’s latest innovation is the next generation of ultra-light tent poles made from advanced carbon fiber tubing. “These new carbon poles are 56 percent lighter than the aluminum alternative,” says Rich Packer, marketing coordinator for Easton. The ultra-light poles become even more efficient in combination with the patent-pending AirLock connection system, which eliminates the heavy and bulky shock-cord found in most tent poles.
“The Easton KILO Tent is the lightest two-person freestanding tent on the market and because of the advanced pole system, Kilo utilizes more durable and more protective fabrics than other light weight tents on the market,” says Packer.
Nu Skin Enterprises
Innovation: ageLOCT Vitality
Nu Skin’s ageLOCT Vitality is a natural supplement that fights the effects of aging at the cellular level. “Deep inside each of our cells, mitochondria metabolize fuel for our bodies,” says Mark Bartlett, Ph.D., vice president, Nu Skin global research and development for Pharmanex. “These cellular ‘power plants’ are a key source of youthful vitality. As we age, the efficiency and number of our mitochondria decline, and energy production can’t meet the demands of our bodies.”
That’s where ageLOCT Vitality can help. In collaboration with LifeGen Technologies, Nu Skin was able to identify groups of genes that inform mitochondrial function in muscle, brain and heart tissues, and has also learned how to influence the expression of those genes. Nu Skin’s ageLOCT aims to identify and reset the expression of age-related genes.
Innovation: Teton Botanicals – Natural Skin Care
Logan-based Teton Botanicals Inc. is taking soft materials science to the next level in skin care products. Using liquid vegetable oil and water, the company has created hand, body and face lotions that hydrate the skin, provide an exceptional moisture barrier and have a unique non-greasy, silky feel that people enjoy. “We conducted our test marketing last summer in Northern Utah and we’re still getting calls from the East Coast and even Europe,” says Steve Bernet, general manager at Teton Botanicals.
The company’s lotion formula appeals to a health conscious crowd that would rather avoid lotions that use mineral oil, petrolatum, alcohols, artificial preservatives, fragrances and colors. The company believes there is
a strong market trend in the cosmetics industry toward products with fewer
and with simpler ingredients, similar to that which has occurred recently in the food industry.
Honorable Mentions in all Categories
• “WIT” Wireless Sensors System by Monnit Corporation
• On the Spot Renewal System by Utah.gov
• The Utah Department of Public Safety Media Portal by Utah.gov
• Lendio: Making Small Business Loans Simple
• The Element by Fillauer and Espiritu Design
• Orabrush - Tongue Cleaner by Orabrush, Inc.