Letter to the Editor: Celebrating Washington County innovation and entrepreneurship

Dixie State University Director of Innovation, Guidance & Support Wayne Provost helps students with entrepreneurial initiatives at the university’s Innovation Plaza, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR — Dixie State University produced a video in 2016 introducing the newly selected “Trailblazer” identity. It included a memorable line intended to characterize pioneer life in southern Utah and link it to the new university brand. In the video, the narrator declared, “harsh desert environments, scorching heat and limited access to water forced the early settlers to innovate or perish.”

The Atwood Innovation Plaza at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, Nov. 7, 2019 | File photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

This characterization of early settlers has endured for over a century, with the innovative spirit now deeply embedded within the Southern Utah ethos. The regional culture, born of necessity, prompted a 2017 university decision to add “innovation” as a fundamental institutional learning outcome in honor of the pioneers, meaning that university graduates would henceforth adopt the habits and mindset of an innovator.

To provide students with opportunities to innovate, we officially launched the Dixie Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center in the fall of 2016 under the direction of Dr. Wayne Provost. The Solutions Center commitment is to provide open, free-of-charge, access to all students, faculty, staff and Washington County residents. Dr. Provost is nationally renowned for his wealth of knowledge and expertise in the innovative process, especially in acquiring intellectual property rights in the form of patents, trademarks and copyrights.

On the fifth anniversary of launching the Solutions Center, now housed in Atwood Innovation Plaza, the success of the program and Dr. Provost is unmatched by any regional university in the nation. We have experienced a dramatic surge in innovation and creative activity produced by students, faculty, staff and local residents.

In just five years, inventors working with Dixie Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center submitted 170 patent applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with 82 granted thus far, as well as 102 trademark and copyright applications. Of the 170 patent applications, 50 have come from university students, faculty and staff and 120 from members of the local community. This total amounts to approximately three patent applications submitted each month for the past 60 consecutive months.

Wayne Provost is honored with a painted life-size bison onstage by Dixie State University students and staff, St. George, Utah, Sept. 19, 2018 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Innovation extends beyond securing intellectual property rights. It also includes the launch of new businesses. Entrepreneurs working through the Solutions Center and the Business Resource Center in Atwood Innovation Plaza have launched more than 100 new businesses and created over 250 new jobs for local residents over those same five years.

The astonishing fact is the university has not recruited students or faculty from other states or regions to enroll or work at DSU as innovators and entrepreneurs. The inventions and new businesses emerging from the Dixie Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center represent the exceptional creativity and inventiveness of Washington County citizens alone.

On this fifth anniversary of the center, we wish to recognize, congratulate and celebrate the creativity of the citizens of Washington County, the expert guidance and mentorship of the Dr. Provost, and all those who have contributed to the extraordinary success of the Dixie Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center.

As we advance toward the next phase of the University life by adopting a polytechnic mission and the institutional name Utah Tech University, we anticipate the creative and innovative culture of the past 150 years will continue to flourish.

Submitted by DR. MICHAEL LACOURSE, Dixie State University provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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