The high-technology industry in Utah is in its fledgling stages, but it has great potential for growth to help the Utah economy so "we should be putting a lot of our eggs in the high-technology basket."

So said R. Thayne Robson, executive director of the University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research in recent remarks to the Mountainwest Venture Group in the Marriott Hotel.He said much has been done in Utah to help high-technology companies get established and some companies are doing well, but "we can do better." As a result of a study of high-technology companies in Utah, Robson said $40 million are needed to help 40 companies grow.

Referring to the four-year-old study, Robson said the first task was to identify the high-technology companies in Utah, what was being done in research and development as it carried over from colleges and universities to the private sector and how much business in research and development was being done in the state.

Robson said between $700 million and $800 million worth of research and development is being done in the state with the majority occurring in private industry. The criteria for selecting a high-technology company is one that has scientists and engineers and a significant portion of the sales money is used in research and development.

There are 275 high-technology companies in Utah, Robson said, that have $4 billion in annual sales and employ 35,000 people, including 4,800 engineers and 762 scientists.

Surveyors looked at some successful companies through personal interviews and also examined new companies. Other parts of the survey include questions on financing, how the companies fit into the national and international market picture, how government is aiding high-technology companies and how high technology is being transferred from educational institutions to the private sector.

Robson said another part of the survey involves management, one of the most sensitive areas because it examines whether a scientist or engineer can actually run a successful company. He said there are aspects of a business such as marketing, financing and advertising that a scientist or engineer don't understand so the owner must hire some help for those areas.