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Life sciences firm debuts new facility on University of Utah campus

University of Utah professor Florian Solzbacher founded Blackrock Microsystems, a startup specializing in areas including implantable electrodes and electrophysiology tools.
University of Utah professor Florian Solzbacher founded Blackrock Microsystems, a startup specializing in areas including implantable electrodes and electrophysiology tools.
University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Blackrock Microsystems on Friday announced the opening of its new Utah headquarters in Research Park on the University of Utah campus.

The $12 million, 60,000-square-foot facility includes a built-in advanced clean room and 30,000 square feet of incubation space for promising life-science startups and growth companies.

Founded in 2008, Blackrock makes implantable mini electrodes, neural interfaces, microsystems and Food and Drug Administration-approved devices that promote advances in research and development, commercialization and patient care.

The firm’s technology is used in various applications, including the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, chronic pain and bladder control, according to Blackrock Microsystems President Florian Solzbacher.

A professor with faculty appointments in electrical and computer engineering, materials science and bioengineering at the University of Utah, German-born Solzbacher is the author of more than 190 journal and conference publications, as well as 16 pending patents.

Currently, Blackrock Microsystems employs about 50 people and generates about $10 million in annual revenue.

Solzbacher said he was motivated to seek technological advances in neurological devices upon visiting wounded veterans in the hospital.

“Seeing the 21- or 22-year-old veterans … having lost limbs and function, from that point on, you almost want to devote your entire life to helping those people,” he explained.

Since 2008, Blackrock Microsystems has grown from a fledgling startup with a dozen employees and a few million dollars in revenue to its status today, with annual growth of nearly 20 percent.

Solzbacher said the U. is greatly responsible for giving companies like Blackrock the support and resources necessary to become successful.

“This is what we all love to see, the University being an economic engine, creating jobs and contributing to the Utah economy," said Richard Brown, dean of engineering at the U.

Over the past six years, the U.'s College of Engineering has helped launch 48 startup companies, Brown said.

He noted that an added benefit is the positive impact firms such as Blackrock can have on people.

“You can write a research paper and maybe 1,000 or 50,000 people read it, but what difference does it make in people’s lives?” Brown queried. “When you turn it into a product that affects their health and makes their lives safer and more comfortable, then you’re actually improving people’s lives.”

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