March 2020 Newsletter

Pictured: WTC Utah president & CEO Miles Hansen speaking at the 2020 International Woman’s Day Celebration on March 5, 2020. Click here to read more. 

As you prospect for international expansion opportunities for your business, keep Africa at the top of your mind. There are significant trade opportunities for American businesses in Africa’s emerging markets and Africa is a high priority for the U.S. government, which has a goal to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa.

Africa features six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world and with more than one billion consumers, the continent is poised to play a pivotal role in the global economy. A U.S. initiative called “Prosper Africa” seeks to unlock opportunities to do business in this emerging market, benefiting businesses, investors and workers in both Africa and the United States.

Through Prosper Africa the U.S. government plans to establish a one-stop-shop to facilitate deals and coordinate the resources of federal agencies to help companies pursue commercial opportunities across the African continent. There are multiple government agencies involved in helping businesses navigate and explore the African business environment and opportunities. Click here to open the Prosper Africa Toolkit.

The Prosper Africa initiative grew out of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), signed into law on May 18, 2000, that provided U.S. market access for qualifying sub-Saharan African countries. U.S. trade with Africa has increased more than 300% since the act was signed into law.  

Within Prosper Africa is a five-year initiative called “Power Africa,” which was launched by President Barack Obama in Tanzania during his Africa Tour in July 2013. This initiative aims at supporting economic growth and development by increasing access to reliable, affordable and sustainable power in Africa.

The initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership with private entities, the U.S. government and the governments of Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia. The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) was a key partner in the design of the initiative and continues to be during the initiative’s implementation. 

Through its development agency USAID, the U.S., with close collaboration from the AfDB, has taken the lead in shaping a list of priority power transactions across the six main focus countries. The AfDB expects to allocate as much as $3 billion over five years, leveraging at least four times more investments in the energy sector. The AfDB’s interventions will include investment loans, reforms, advisory and guarantees. Click here to open the Power Africa Toolkit.

It is exciting to contemplate that the billions of dollars available for investment in the energy sector could translate into actual light bulbs in the homes and businesses of people located in the six countries. It is also exciting to contemplate how Prosper Africa and Power Africa could increase trade between the U.S. and Africa and create more opportunities for Utah businesses to expand globally.

M-Vac Systems Featured on Forensic Files II

The revitalized gold-standard HLN documentary series Forensic Files premiered in February, 2020. The second episode, “On the Rocks,” featured Utah-based forensic technology company M-Vac System’s breakthrough innovation in helping solve the 1995 murder case of Krystal Beslanowitch.

In the early 1990s, M-Vac Systems developed their idea for surface pathogen collection technology, concluding that surface sample acquisition was the “weak link” in the food safety environment, and the likely cause for undetected microbes in other industries. Using a hand-held wet-vacuum system allowed for increased sample sizes, while also preserving collected pathogens for lab analysis. 

Since then, the superior sampling capabilities of the M-Vac have been researched in food safety and security, counter-bioterrorism, first response, pharmaceutical, national defense and homeland security, but to date the system has only been extensively used in law enforcement and forensic DNA collection. HLN’s Forensic Files II showcased one example in aiding the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office. 

“It’s hard to describe the emotions we felt watching the Krystal Beslanowitch case unfold on Forensic Files II,” said M-Vac Systems president Jared Bradley. “For a DNA technology company like M-Vac Systems, Forensic Files II is THE true crime show to be on because the show puts in so much effort to accurately highlight the forensic science and investigative methodologies behind the success of the overall investigation.”  

The 1995 murder case of Krystal Beslanowitch had run cold, until the M-Vac was able collect touch DNA from a rock left at the scene of the crime–18 years after the event. “No one had heard of that before,” said Bradley. 

Since then the M-Vac has been used in numerous cases, including some big ones in Utah. The M-Vac was the recipient of the IAFP Innovation Award in 2008, the UVEF Most Innovative Product Award in 2013 and the Utah Innovation of the Year Award in 2016 in Mechanical Systems. It has helped a number of investigators solve more crime and continues to build momentum in the forensic DNA collection market in the US and around the world. To date, the M-Vac System is being used in the United States, China, South Africa, Russia, the UK and more.

In taking their product international, M-Vac Systems has utilized several resources, including the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant administered by World Trade Center (WTC) Utah. “Since the Beslanowitch case broke in 2013 we have had a dramatic increase in both US and international interest,” according to Bradley. Forensically, getting DNA from a granite river rock is so difficult it has garnered attention all over the world.  STEP funds have helped us reach some of those, especially in Singapore and Vietnam, which is where we went on a State-led Trade Mission organized by WTC Utah. Since then we have had increased sales in both regions, and that has helped us get additional sales in Myanmar, Thailand and other Asian countries. We are active on every continent and WTC Utah has helped in so many ways to obtain that status.”

You can watch Forensic Files II on HLN. To learn more about M-Vac Systems visit

STEP is funded in part through a Grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration.


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