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SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Innovation That Matters 2016

We are at the dawn of an extraordinary technological revolution and it is transforming every part of the U.S. economy. Innovation That Matters examines and ranks 25 cities’ readiness to capitalize on the inevitable shift to a digital economy.

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The Salt Lake City education startup scene is thriving

EdTech is quickly becoming Salt Lake City’s strongest specialization in the new digital economy. While this is not a historical strength of the region, the data suggests that it has seen significant momentum of late. Strong engagement from anchor institutions and established businesses is a strength of the overall Salt Lake City startup environment, but there is still room for improvement when it comes to enhancing local connectivity among the entrepreneurial community.

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Salt Lake City’s startup community is gaining momentum

alt Lake City’s ability to harness its capital base may be its most distinct advantage. While the region performs in the middle of the pack in terms of overall investment (approx. $3B), it punches well above its weight relative to its size and wealth. These numbers show that the region is already well ahead of its peers when it comes to unlocking capital and driving startup success.

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  1. Salt Lake City’s startup community is gaining momentum, but it hasn’t broken out yet.
    The region has a strong IT cluster (7th) and has been competitive in attracting venture funding (10th), but relatively few companies have had successful exits so far (18th in IPOs). It may take some time for the uptick in funding to translate into results, but Salt Lake City is headed in the right direction.
  2. The region’s ability to harness its capital base may be its most distinct advantage.
    Salt Lake City performs in the middle of the pack in terms of overall investment (15th), but it punches well above its weight relative to its size and wealth (3rd in unlocking capital). This suggests that the region is already well ahead of its competitors in harnessing its existing capital base to drive startup success.
  3. Strong engagement from anchor institutions and established businesses are strengths of the Salt Lake City startup ecosystem, but a lack of cheerleaders to highlight the region’s successes is a major weakness.
    The city ranked 2nd and 6th in the first two categories, but 20th in the third. Further integrating cheerleaders—media outlets, event organizers, and industry associations—into the entrepreneurial community could enhance local connectivity.
  4. Ed Tech is becoming Salt Lake City’s strongest specialization in the new digital economy.
    While this is not a historical strength of the region (22nd), data suggests that it has the most recent momentum (8th). It remains to be seen whether Salt Lake City can capitalize on its traditional specializations in the real estate (1st), transportation and logistics (2nd/4th), environmental services (3rd), medical devices (1st) and utility management (5th) sectors.
  5. Lack of openness to new ideas points to a cultural challenge for the region.
    While local entrepreneurs pointed to a favorable regulatory environment (5th) and good quality of life (10th), they noted a distinct lack of openness to novel ways of thinking within the community (23rd). Finding ways to shift this aspect of the local culture could pay dividends for the startup ecosystem.
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