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USTAR-supported technologies offer potential solutions and advances for United States defense strategies

As part of a local U.S. Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Initiative event, technologies supported by the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) were featured for their potential uses within the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense, highlighting the growing importance of startup companies in the aerospace/defense sector in Utah.

The Air Force’s Science and Technology 2030 Initiative, led by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), aims to review and update the Air Force’s strategies in science and technology research to ensure it remains at the forefront of technological advances.

“In a world where far more innovation is happening outside the government than inside it, connecting to the broader scientific enterprise is vital,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in a statement discussing the initiative early this year.

On July 10, USTAR hosted an industry reception with the AFRL and the University of Utah, highlighting USTAR-supported technologies with potential applications for the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense.

“USTAR is Utah’s technology-based economic development agency,” said Brian Somers, USTAR managing director. “Our mission is to help Utah entrepreneurs commercialize their technology, bring it to market, and attract follow-on funding.”

Companies and technologies throughout Utah were featured at the event. In northern Utah, the Utah State University Propulsion Team is developing propulsion technology for low-cost satellite missions, and recently completed their first test with NASA. Meanwhile, the Conductive Group, which has employees in both Wasatch and Emery Counties, offers shielded cases for cyber defense. And in Southern Utah, Adranos is developing high-performance, clean solid rocket propellant that can be used for a variety of Air Force missile systems, as well as space launch vehicles.

Several Wasatch Front groups—OxEon Energy, Optisys, Coreform, Turner Innovations, Vaporsens, and Brigham Young University’s PRISM Group—also were able to feature and discuss their technologies at the event. They represented a range of technologies such as wireless x-ray imaging, 3D modeling and printing, autonomous solutions for unmanned aerial vehicles, and chemical sensors.

“OxEon technology can be used to produce jet fuel for the United States Air Force using local resources [here in Utah]. This reduces logistic chain risk and simultaneously reduces carbon footprint,” explained Lyman Frost, CEO and founder of OxEon Energy, in discussing how his company’s technology could potentially enhance the Air Force’s energy security strategies.

Several of USTAR’s programs serve as a way to connect Utah businesses with strategic opportunities with the U.S. Air Force. While USTAR offers a range of programs to accelerate the development of Utah technologies with defense applications, the USTAR Innovation Center, located outside of Hill Air Force Base, provides a physical epicenter for the industry to provide ideas and technology solutions for Air Force challenges.

“We think about 3D printing, additive manufacturing that’s important…All of that is important to [the Air Force] and all of that will be a byproduct of the Innovation Center,” Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy, who serves as the commander of Air Force Sustainment Center, said at the dedication of the building. “That’s how the Innovation Center fits in to your United States Air Force.”

At the dedication of the Innovation Center last year, Levy highlighted the critical role USTAR, state government and private entrepreneurs will play in building the U.S. Air Force of tomorrow, which is the crux of the Science and Technology 2030 Initiative.

“How do we go faster, how do we innovate more, how do we capitalize on the fact that we are an aerospace nation and that Hill [Air Force Base] is essential to our nation’s defense,” said Levy. “[We] can’t do it alone, but I’m very, very thrilled to have such an amazing partner in the USTAR team…the Hill team, our state elected leaders and our federally elected leaders. What an amazing collection of human beings who are committed to keeping Utah’s commitment as part of the aerospace nation alive and committed to keeping the defense of the nation thriving.”

As part of the Science and Technology 2030 Initiative, the Air Force is also inviting the public to share their scientific or technology-related ideas as well as innovative business practices. Proposals and ideas can be submitted at www.afresearchlab.com/2030.

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