Grow Utah Ventures, Zions Bank, USTAR, Workman Nydegger, Ballard Spahr and CFO Solutions today announced the half-way point in the second Outdoor Recreation “Concept to Company” Contest. Applicants have until October 18, 2009 to submit their ideas.

“We are very excited about our second Outdoor Recreation “Concept to Company” Contest,” said T. Craig Bott, President and CEO of Grow Utah Ventures. “Last year’s contest winner had a tremendous idea and we have been able to help them sculpt that idea into a viable business.”

Ogwa, a Salt Lake City based company founded in 2006, was the winner of last year’s Outdoor Recreation “Concept to Company” Contest. Ogwa was founded on the belief that it’s easier to expel water from personal water reservoirs (hydration systems) with pressure than it is to suck for the water. The company’s original tagline was “never suck again.”

“My first impressions of Ogwa were that they had a great technology meeting a real consumer need but without a good sense of how to get it into the marketplace,” said Curt Roberts, Director of the Northern Utah Technology Outreach Center at USTAR. “Enter the ‘Concept to Company’ contest. Since that first contact they have come a long way, both in improving the product as well as understanding the market segments and knowing how to penetrate them.”

Ogwa attributes its early success to the consulting services and cash provided via the “Concept to Company” contest. It says the time spent in consulting meetings has been priceless.

“We spend, on average, about five hours a week with USTAR and Grow Utah Ventures,” said Harlan Gardiner, CEO of Ogwa. “They’ve provided so much valuable advice and critical mentoring that we could not have received without them. They’ve been the key to us in achieving early success and building a solid foundation for our business and instant credibility in the business community and the marketplace. We are working proof of the value of The Concept to Company Contests.”

The “Concept to Company” competitions are ongoing innovation contests held in various regions across the state of Utah and were created as a way to encourage entrepreneurism and stimulate business growth in the state. Each competition focuses on a different industry and matches the unique entrepreneurial strengths of that particular region. They are the first competitions of their kind in the state and perhaps the nation.

“The ‘Concept to Company’ contests are the most unique state wide programs that I’ve ever seen,” continued Gardiner. “The contests allow early stage concepts like Ogwa to have a much broader base than what we’d be able to build on our own. Additionally the entities involved, specifically USTAR and Grow Utah Ventures, help bridge companies and connect them to key influencers from a networking standpoint that builds an instant credibility that wouldn’t be available otherwise.”

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A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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