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USTAR provides collaboration “glue” to strengthen southern Utah ecosystem

Brant Ross, Ph.D., founder of St. George-based MotionPort, whose virtual prototyping technology enables companies to innovate faster and reduce costs, understands the value of collaboration. The winner of two NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, with help from USTAR’s SBIR-STTR Assistance Center, says he felt technically isolated after moving his company from Michigan to Utah in 2011.

“I had no good way to find out about other engineering or manufacturing organizations in the St. George area,” Ross said. “I connected with the local USTAR office and found they were well connected with the technical community, as well as educational organizations and entrepreneurship groups in southern Utah. They organized events and started making introductions that are creating new opportunities for collaboration and mutual support that haven’t existed here before.”

Shirlayne Quayle, director of the St. George USTAR office, notes the importance of connecting companies to one another. “Strong collaboration is critical. Sharing knowledge and resources between companies, and across sectors and industries, is a powerful driver of innovation,” she said. “With satellite offices around the state, USTAR is well-positioned to make introductions that directly improve development outcomes.”

The introduction of USTAR TAP awardee, MetaShield, to MotionPort, is an example of positive collaboration leading to better outcomes. MetaShield’s director of research and development, Glenn Mesa, echoed Ross’s feelings about positive local connections.

“Collaborating with MotionPort allowed us to accelerate our timeline by simulating mechanical testing as opposed to conducting physical testing for product development,” Mesa said. “We gained a better understanding of how our product will work, saving us time and money.”

MetaShield’s core technology is a silica-based coating that combines transparency and durability with flexibility and versatility which has several applications.

“The collaboration ‘glue’ the USTAR team provides is critical in building the foundation for future valued-added job growth and technology development in southern Utah,” Ross said.  “And that’s good for Utah as a whole.”

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