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13 NEW FIRMS WILL GET HELP FINDING FUNDS

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Thirteen promising early-stage companies, including three from outside Utah, will make presentations in January at a venture capital conference, state officials say.

The proposals to be presented Thursday, Jan. 25, at the 5th Annual Utah Venture Capital Conference were selected from 31 applicants, then reviewed and polished by an "elite" panel of venture capital experts, said Brad Bertoch, executive director of the Wayne Brown Institute.The institute, formerly the Utah Innovation Foundation, is the organizing sponsor of the conference in Salt Lake City. Other sponsors include the Utah Division of Community and Economic Development, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a variety of private companies.

"This is truly a unique opportunity for early-stage businesses with new technologies and ideas to meet face-to-face with investors and venture capitalists able to provide funding for their companies," Bertoch said.

"We provide the dance floor and the band. Whether the parties dance is up to them," he said.

The companies chosen to make formal presentations, and seeking from $500,000 to $5 million in venture capital, were screened by a panel of "national investment experts," Bertoch said.

The firms range from a Salt Lake business developing a process to manufacture asphalt from Utah tar sands to a San Mateo, Calif., pharmaceutical company attempting to identify and develop new naturally produced drugs.

"These are exciting companies and, if the past is an accurate precursor of the future, many will emerge from the conference and go on to raise capital," Bertoch said.

"Our initial conferences have proven that a good, comprehensive presentation can earn companies considerable venture capital. In total, all institute conferences have helped Utah companies raise in excess of $20 million," said Bertoch.