Most people recognize Brigham Young University as playing a major role in educating tomorrow's work force, but many people do not realize the important role the university has played in bringing high-technology industry to Utah Valley.
Lynn Blake, director of business development for the State Department of Community and Economic Development, said BYU has been able to bring a great amount of technology to the valley with fewer federally funded dollars than the University of Utah and Utah State University.Blake is director of the state's Centers of Excellence program, a program created to transfer technology from the university setting into the market place.
The U. of U. does $100 million of externally supported research a year, and USU does $56 million, but BYU gets only $16 million, he said.
"The actual results of commercialization of technology that comes from BYU is very significant. Novell and WordPerfect are examples of the type of technology coming from the university campus.
"More important, there are a large number of small companies that have the potential of becoming equally successful."
BYU is reluctant to accept more federal funding because it may interfere with internal policies at the private university, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said John Lamb, director of research administration at BYU.
But BYU's centers have had success with less money because there is "a tendency toward BYU's research to be more commercially directed," Blake said. "They have a different type of focus."
BYU may get only a portion of the federal funds that other state universities receive, but the university still gets a third of the state's funds for its Centers of Excellence.
BYU has eight centers with total grants reaching $2.8 million, Blake said. The centers range from computer-integrated manufacturing to chemical separation.
The Center for Computer-Integrated Manufacturing is perhaps the best-known center at the university. Students and professors have been working to develop ways for industries to use computers and make manufacturing easier.
In the past four years, the center has brought $4 million to BYU for further research.
The Center for Combustion Engineering, however, brings in the most dollars to the university. In the past five years, more than $10 million has come back to BYU from that center's research. The center has also received a National Science Foundation award.
Researchers work at the center to develop improved combustion methodology of coal and other materials for power generation.
Other BYU centers include the Center for X-ray Research, the Center for Supercomputers, the Center for Chemical Separation, the Center for Signal Processing, the Center for Computer-Based Education and the Center for Supercritical Fluid Separation.