We live in a globally competitive knowledge economy where innovation and entrepreneurship are absolutely necessary for good jobs, high wages and a thriving business environment.

Even traditional industries like mineral extraction, manufacturing, farming, transportation and tourism must become more innovative and entrepreneurial to remain commercially successful and globally competitive.

Innovation will be required to cope with Utah’s rapid growth and urbanization. With our population expected to double in the next several decades, and most of the growth occurring on the Wasatch Front, our leaders will have to be very creative to provide jobs for our young people, prevent transportation congestion, poor air quality and to maintain our enviable quality of life.

Thankfully, Utah has a long tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the focus continues. At the recent annual Governor’s Economic Summit, Gov. Gary Herbert highlighted innovation, using the theme “Innovate Utah.”

I was asked to introduce the governor, and I noted some examples of innovation and entrepreneurship in Utah’s history. Some Utah inventions changed the world.

  • The electric guitar was invented by Utahn Alvino Ray.
  • The hearing aid was invented by Harvey Fletcher.
  • Television was invented by Philo T. Farnsworth of Richfield in 1927.
  • The car stereo was invented by James Fletcher.
  • The DVD was invented by Robert B. Ingebretsen, who was also awarded a special Oscar for his invention by the Academy of Motion Pictures.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its first restaurant in Salt Lake City in 1952.
  • The video game industry was born with the introduction of the first computer game PONG, developed by Nolan Bushnell, who worked his summers at Lagoon. Bushnell became known as the Father of Computer Entertainment.
  • Fry sauce, that delicious condiment that has become a Utah staple, was created by Don Carlos Edwards, the creator of Arctic Circle restaurants in the 1940s.
  • The electric traffic light was invented by Salt Lake City police officer Lester Wire.
  • The world’s first word processing software was developed by Alan Ashton of WordPerfect.
  • The artificial heart was invented by Robert K. Jarvik at the University of Utah in the early 1980s.
  • For hockey fans and ice skaters, the Zamboni, the slow-moving ice-polishing machine, was invented in Utah by Frank Zamboni from Eureka in 1949.
  • Jonathan Coon, while a student at BYU, pioneered ordering contact lenses over the phone, founding 1-800-Contacts.
  • The Frisbee was invented by Walter Frederick Morrison shortly after World War II.
  • What would our lives be like, what would the world be like, without these inventions all coming out of Utah? Let’s look at a few more: Mario Capecchi, working at the University of Utah, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2007 for figuring out how to turn off genes.
  • The creation and collaboration of the Utah Genome Project and the Utah Population Database is fostering dramatic innovation in medicine. It is the only one of its kind in the world.
  • The Huntsman Cancer Institute discovered the ACP gene involved in colon cancer.
  • The Sketchpad, the first interactive graphics program, was developed at the University of Utah.
  • The computer animation technology used by Pixar in creating the most amazing films in the world was developed at the University of Utah.
  • Utah State University has the record for building and having sent the most satellites into space, earning it the nickname “Space U.”

Dr. Joshua Shiffman’s pioneering research with elephants in discovering a cure for cancer is happening right now at Primary Children’s Hospital, the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah. As Gov. Herbert said at the summit, “New ideas and a strong entrepreneurial spirit help Utah’s economy stand out, but it’s collaboration that helps it truly succeed.”

Let’s keep the innovation coming!

A. Scott Anderson is CEO and president of Zions Bank.