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Local companies honored for innovation

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is one of the nation's top outdoor recreation locales, so it would make sense that one of the newest innovations in camping gear was designed and created in the Beehive State.

Salt Lake City-based Easton Mountain Products took home one of the top honors Tuesday at the 2011 Utah Innovation Awards for its KILO backpacking tent. At 2.25 pounds, the product is the lightest tent in its class, with advanced carbon fiber poles with Airlock connectors, which eliminate heavy shock-cord.

"We didn't cut any corners on the materials or how the tent goes together," said Greg Easton, president and chief executive officer of Easton Technical Products. "It's really going to help (outdoor enthusiasts) go farther."

He said pushing past the limits of current thinking to truly innovate is what separates companies such as his and the other finalists from competitors in their respective industries.

The event, co-sponsored by Stoel Rives and the Utah Technology Council, is the state's first program designed to recognize innovations and the companies that create them. A committee of 70 experts from Utah's private industry, government and academic communities selected the winners and finalists in each of the program's eight categories.

Clark Gilbert, president and CEO of the Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media, delivered the keynote address at the Little America Hotel. He touted the strong, determined spirit of those creative technology leaders in the room who persevered to launch their companies in the face of numerous challenges, including negative feedback from naysayers to the uncertainty whether they would succeed with such unusual, original ideas.

"For all of us who are trying to innovate, the only way you can guarantee your future is to go out and be an entrepreneur," Gilbert told the audience of about 300 business owners and product developers. "Being an entrepreneur doesn't take you away from the frontier; it just lets you have a chance for your destiny and your future."

This year's winners:

Clean Technology and Energy: CO2 Catalytic Converter by Solid Carbon Products

Computer hardware/electrical devices: Sentinel by Xandem Technology

Consumer software and Web Services: Validated Citizen Feedback by Inc.

Enterprise software and Web-enabled business-to-business solutions: Liqwid Ads by Liqwid, a LeftnRights Brand

Life Sciences: Domain Surgical System by Domain Surgical

Mechanical systems/chemicals/manufacturing: ZAGGmate by ZAGG Inc.

Natural Products: ageLOC Vitality by Nu Skin Enterprises

Outdoor and consumer products: KILO Backpacking Tent by Easton Mountain Products