Utah Innovation Fund invests in local startups to help reach full potential

Dec 11, 2023, 1:59 PM | Updated: 2:06 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Ever since he was a teenager, former Utah Tech University student Hunter Manz has been on a mission to combat water scarcity.

“When I was about 14 years old, I saw a documentary about world water scarcity,” Manz said. “I’m from Las Vegas, so we were always worried about water. So, I wanted to try to help the problem and started building little machines in my parents’ garage.”

Eventually, he founded his desalination company, Eden Technologies. Eden Tech is the recipient of the first investment of the newly established Utah Innovation Fund, which focuses on investing in startups at Utah colleges and universities.

“The whole idea behind the Innovation Fund is to give us an opportunity to take the best ideas and make sure that they grow into something that can really benefit the lives of Utahns everywhere,” said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox in a press conference today.

The fund was born as HB42 during the 2023 legislative session. It was established with $15 million — the money was repurposed from former programs that were shut down. It does not include taxpayer funds.

Republican Rep. Jeff Stenquist said the fund helps boost university projects to help them reach their full potential.

“It’s really satisfying to see that it really is taking off, and there are real companies being created because of this fund and because of this legislation,” Stenquist said.

Now, Manz and other young entrepreneurs can continue to develop their ideas to help solve problems in our state and beyond. Manz said his team at Eden Tech is using the innovation fund’s support to help provide clean water for the Navajo Nation.

“These discoveries, research, and innovations are important to our future,” Cox said.

The Utah Innovation Fund has a multi-step process to decide who to invest in. For criteria and other information, visit the Utah Innovation Fund’s website.

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Utah Innovation Fund invests in local startups to help reach full potential