Weber State Secures $750,000 Economic Development Administration Grant
OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University will have a new program to help community members innovate, build and produce aerospace and outdoor products thanks to the Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant from the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA).
Weber State will receive approximately $750,000 from the grant and will partner with the Grow Utah program and Utah Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Initiative (UAMMI), to increase research engineering and competitiveness in northern Utah.
“This grant will be a big step in the growth of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Guy Letendre, WSU’s Economic Development director “With regional expertise in aerospace, defense and outdoor products, having a location for entrepreneurs, private industry and the Air Force Base to create and evaluate prototypes will hopefully accelerate new ideas and businesses.”
The program will be housed in the former Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) building near Hill Air Force Base, currently known as the Northern Utah Accelerator. It will connect stakeholders in private industry and entrepreneurs with mentoring and support services in a centralized location. The funding from the grant will allow increased machining and testing equipment, to build prototypes and conduct usability testing.
“The new programs under the Northern Utah Accelerator for Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Materials, and Products funded by the EDA Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant will provide significant benefits to small businesses in advanced manufacturing to meet the needs of area companies,” said Tulinda Larsen, UAMMI executive director. “They will especially be helpful to the engineering and aerospace industries.”
The Build to Scale grant will also support mentoring for approximately 30 advanced materials entrepreneurs, offer access to prototyping equipment to industry professionals, and increase research and engineering competitiveness in northern Utah.
The grant will allow Grow Utah, a non-profit company dedicated to supporting and sustaining entrepreneurship, to offer its RAMP course twice a year. The course helps entrepreneurs and small businesses develop new products using advanced materials and manufacturing processes.
RAMP connects mentors to course participants in business, processes, materials and other specialties in order to provide a depth and breadth of understanding in industries such as 3D printing, outdoor recreation, medical devices, commercial aerospace, consumer products, automotive and building construction. Student teams participate in five work sessions and then present projects for review and input. An additional five sessions are held with each student individually, where mentors provide assistance and feedback.
“We are very excited that this grant includes building out a product prototyping and testing center under the direction of Weber State,” said Craig Bott, Grow Utah CEO and president. “Our RAMP course members will have access to the specialized equipment enabling them to rapidly test and develop market-viable innovations. The capability to combine mentoring with practical lab work makes RAMP a distinct and unique program.”
The Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant attempts to leverage regional competitive strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship and foster inclusive access to proven entrepreneurship support models.
Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.