Utah State University's president is commending the University of Utah on its willingness to partner with USU on certain research as a cost-saving measure.

In a Friday presentation before some of Salt Lake's business leaders, Kermit Hall called the efforts "new and positive for Utah."

"We will still compete like crazy in athletics, but, in a paradigm shift, we have agreed to cooperate and collaborate where it is in our mutual interest — and the interest of the state — to do so," Hall said. "Research is highly competitive and costly. On occasion, perhaps we can help shave those costs."

Hall said the two research universities complement each other, with the U. a national leader in human health sciences and USU a national leader in natural sciences.

"We are two very powerful economic engines for Utah. Together last year our schools had combined research revenues of nearly a half-billion dollars. A multiplier of five means that added $2.5 billion to Utah's economy. I believe collaboration is the wave of the future," he said.

Hall said that Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced their intention to do the same.

He also noted that jobs have developed from research conducted at other high-tech centers, including the State University of New York getting a new $400 million research and development center from a consortium of computer chip makers; an Indiana company partnering with research universities for a biotech drug manufacturing facility that could grow to have 600 workers; the University of Texas at San Antonio adding 600 new faculty over the next eight years as it doubled its research faculty; Texas A&M announcing it would add 400 new research faculty; and Arizona State University planning to triple its research capacity in the next five years.

"What lessons do these examples hold for Utah? The states and research universities we have previewed have something in common: Each is acting aggressively on the knowledge that economic growth in the present and future will be very different than in the past," Hall said.

While "old engines of growth" included raw materials, labor, manufacturing infrastructure and transportation, success in the new "Knowledge Age" depends on higher education, innovation, collaboration and transformation, he said.


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com