The Utah Economic Development Board has extended a contract with a former Utahn attempting to get technology developed in the Centers of Excellence program transferred to the commercial sector.
Lynn Blake, centers director, said the contract with Larry Hansen, former executive of the EIMAC plant in Salt Lake City and recently retired vice president of Varian Corp., Palo Alto, Calif., will run through Aug. 1, 1989.Hansen was hired Oct. 1, 1988, as a consultant on a contract to run through Nov. 30, but that later was extended through Jan. 31, 1989. Blake said Hansen has been paid $35,000 plus two airplane trips so far and the terms of the contract extension will be negotiated.
Nearly a year ago, Blake asked the Legislature for the money to hire a person to facilitate the transfer of center-originated technology to the business sector, but he was unable to find anybody who was interested in taking the job. He said anyone who might be qualified probably could make more money in the private sector.
He was referred to Hansen, who had recently retired from Varian, and he agreed to act as consultant, Blake said.
As a result of a preliminary investigation of the Centers of Excellence, Hansen submitted a report Nov. 8, 1988, and said several of the programs have "significant potential for spawning businesses which can be competitive in world markets."
The Centers of Excellence program is using some taxpayer money on research projects with the goal of transferring the technology gained into creation of business that will aid the state's economy.
One significant obstacle to overcome in building companies using technology derived from Centers of Excellence programs is raising enough money to be competitive. The lack of venture capital in Utah makes it necessary necessary to create conditions attractive to outside venture capitalists, Hansen said.
After further examination of the centers projects, Hansen on Jan. 10 concluded that the programs are in various stages in their progress toward commercial viability.
Hansen said a few of the companies might succeed, but many are undercapitalized.
"It is clear that technology transfer from the centers will only occur in a satisfactory way if these basic issues are addressed in a professional way, by experienced people who understand the issues and can define solutions as well as help them be implemented," Hansen wrote.
"Unless such assistance is provided through the centers program, the lack of market oriented management, which is almost universal in the centers and the start up companies, will make it impossible to raise the capital required to get the technology transferred into successful ventures or to have the new companies become successful," he wrote.
Hansen said, "This expertise does not exist in the current, university technology programs nor is it available in any other current public or private program."