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Big ideas aired at Utah TEDx event

SALT LAKE CITY — DeVon Hale attended the University of Utah's first TEDx conference Friday afternoon to learn about biotechnology financing, and he did.

To his surprise, the associate dean of international medical education also walked away with a concrete resource that will help him provide quality education to children in small villages in Ghana.

Hale already has spoken with presenter Tom Vander Ark, former executive director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who is working on a similar project in Nairobi, Kenya.

On the other end of the career spectrum, graduate film student Miaken Christensen attended the four-hour event of "ideas worth sharing" to learn about the development of design teams. Christensen also learned a bit about neuroscience experimentation from 15-year-old Strom Clark and got tips for improving her classroom.

"There's a lot of energy around," she said during a break intended for networking. "The whole entrepreneurial spirit — I really connected with that."

About 100 local professionals heard "ideas worth sharing" Friday that were intentionally all over the map, according to Robert Wuebker, who helped organize the conference.

Sponsored by The Summit Group and hosted by the David Eccles School of Business, the event was an independently organized opportunity to replicate the annual TED seminars, which usually take place annually in California. The mini-conference and others like it around the globe share the goal of spreading the light of big ideas by providing a forum for would-be world changers.

TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design and is widely known for posting short and interesting speeches online for free.

"This is good for individuals who are up to interesting things," Wuebker said, comparing the nearly 100 attendees to "a bunch of butterfly collectors."

David Eccles School of Business Dean Taylor Randall said the event was a great way for him to put together a community of innovators. Randall called it a great opportunity for students to connect with successful, passionate people.

"We want to engage students with people who love large ideas," Randall said.

The business school hopes to repeat the TEDx conference annually.