The Utah Business and Economic Development Board has approved spending $797,209 to create a new Center of Excellence and provide additional money to four existing centers.

The board approved $133,000 to A.M. Hofmeister at Utah State University for a new project on handicapped education.Projects receiving additional money were $130,000 for a small satellite development program at Weber State College, $199,209 for a chemical separations project at Brigham Young University, $135,000 for an X-ray imaging project at BYU, and $200,000 for a parts of demand system project at USU, the University of Utah, BYU and WSC.

Lynn H. Blake, director of the Centers of Excellence program, said that in the program's three years, 12 companies have been started as the result of research completed with the help of the state money.

The companies are Baron Medical; Smartware; CAM Software Inc.; Digital Hearings Inc.; Bonneville Microelectronics Inc.; Protein Solutions Inc.; Baron Technologies; Icomp Inc.; CIM Training Center; IBC Advanced Technologies; Animate Systems Inc.; and Intraspace.

Blake said the $5.6 million the state has put into establishing the Centers of Excellence has generated $141 million in contributions from other sources, and many companies have become affiliated with the 12 new companies. Dozens of new jobs have been created by the formation of the new companies.

An advisory committee reviews the request for Centers of Excellence money, Blake said, which prompted John Price, a board member and Salt Lake developer, to request the number of reviewers be expanded. He said some of the people reviewing the requests for money are venture capitalists who want to make money through the sale of stock and have a vested interest in recommending receiving some state money.

Price suggested that several people already in business who have a different perspective should be involved.