Newsletter – December 5, 2014



President’s Message

Export Report: September Exports the Highest for 2014

CEO Derek Miller
World Trade Center Utah just published its latest monthly export report, which includes Utah’s export data through September 2014. The report, which you will find on our web site, includes some interesting and useful information. For example, Utah’s continued increase in metals exports is leading to an overall increase in total exports for the state. September’s export numbers in dollars – more than $1.2 billion – are the highest they have been in 2014.

A destination of interest for the month of September was India. Utah exports to India grew by nearly 1,900 percent during September. In the last five years, India has become Utah’s fifth largest export market.

We are methodically enhancing the way we deliver information to you, or constituents. For example, in the export report we have updated the template and expanded a few graphs in order to help tell a more complete export story over the past decade as well as year-to-date numbers from 2009 to 2014. We have also completely redesigned our web site, which includes a news section featuring past newsletters, and we will soon roll out a new design for this newsletter.

We hope you will stay tuned as we implement key changes over the next month or two. As always, we welcome your feedback.

Best wishes,

Derek Miller

Derek B. Miller

President & CEO



Going Global: Blackrock Microsystems LLC

When World Trade Center Utah caught up with Marcus Gerhardt, founding partner in Blackrock Microsystems LLC, he was boarding a plane bound for Hannover, Germany. He was traveling there to open a European subsidiary for the company.

The Hannover opening, as he explains, included “some impressive handshakes” between the local economics minister, a patient with a prosthetic arm and the Blackrock team. “It was rewarding to see that technology made in Utah could receive recognition in faraway Germany – technology that is going to be a cornerstone of the excellence cluster efforts there.”

Headquartered in Research Park next to the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, Blackrock is a privately held company whose tools for the neuroscience, neural engineering and neuroprosthetics research and clinical communities are about as high-tech as one can imagine. Blackrock technology has been at the core of worldwide innovations in brain-machine interfaces, implantable bionic technologies and epilepsy diagnostics.

Some of its key products involve implantable electrode arrays that directly record brain signals and make them intelligible through proprietary software that in turn can manipulate devices such as prosthetic arms and legs. Some 500 organizations in research markets across the globe are using Blackrock’s products to develop clinical solutions for next generation pharma development, healthcare and personalized medicine.

As a 16-year-old, Prof. Florian Solzbacher, president and co-founder of Blackrock Microsystems, dreamed of creating a link between the human brain and artificial limbs. He pursued his dream as a professor of microelectronics, micro devices and implantation at the University of Utah. After years of research and development, Solzbacher was prepared to commercialize his technology and contacted Gerhardt in 2007 to join him. Both men were successful entrepreneurs, creating multiple companies individually, and they decided to pair up for the formation of Blackrock. But rather than start at ground-zero, Gerhardt says they pursued an existing company working in the same space and used it as the platform to commercialize Solzbacher’s technology.

Flush with financing from investors in Europe and the Far East, Blackrock acquired Utah-based Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, Inc., another University of Utah spin-out. Gerhardt says Blackrock broke even in nine months, jumping from about $700,000 in revenue its first year to phenomenal $3.5 million in two years.

The company now employs about 50 workers in Utah in a “very international environment,” according to Gerhardt. The company’s employees represent about 17 different nations, including Senegal, Iran, Syria and Vietnam. The latter produces “some of the best electrode array techs,” he notes. The international environment at Blackrock has been the cornerstone of an exciting culture, “which ensures we are always challenging our preconceptions and always asking how we can make things better.”

Although the communication challenges posed by this approach should not be underestimated, he says the company is much more likely to succeed in communicating better with its customers on a worldwide basis and consequently commercializes better on a global scale.

The company’s relationship with the University of Utah Center for Engineering Innovation continues to be an integral part of its success story, both for technology development and engineering talent. Blackrock also recruits heavily from BYU and Westminster College. Further, the ability to create a cosmopolitan team of employees who enjoy the high quality of life provided by Utah has also been central to the company’s success.

“The Utah brand has helped us when people associate outdoor living and quality of life with it,” he explains. “However, more recently, negative news of environmental issues such as winter inversions have made it more difficult to convince key people to move to Salt Lake City.”

Gerhardt and Solzbacher are both European, so taking Blackrock’s products to international markets was a natural process for them. However, they did encounter challenges, especially in China. Hence, the company hired several Chinese employees to better service the Chinese market and has relied on its international environment to sell its products globally. Gerhardt notes that the opening of a subsidiary in Germany would not have been possible for a company of Blackrock’s size without the international awareness within the company.

As a non-U.S. citizen, he advises Utah companies to visit foreign markets and see what they are like before trying to go global.

Blackrock continuously seeks international markets, but not just to sell its products. The company also seeks to identify technologies and the connected individuals, companies or universities that can help it provide the best tools to neuroscientists worldwide. Recently, that led to partnerships with an Israeli company whose products Blackrock is now distributing worldwide, and to a German company whose products Blackrock sells in the U.S.

For more information about Blackrock Microsystems visit or call 801-582-5533.



Hungarian Gold Cross of Merit

Franz Kolb, director of international diplomacy and protocol in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, receives the Hungarian Gold Cross of Merit from Consul General Laszlo Kalman of the Hungarian Consulate in Los Angeles, acting in behalf of the President of Hungary.

Franz Kolb Receives Hungarian Gold Cross of Merit

Last week World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah) joined the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Consulate General of Hungary in Los Angeles to host an award ceremony at the Utah State Capitol to honor Franz Kolb, director of international diplomacy and protocol at GOED. Kolb was presented with the Hungarian Gold Cross of Merit by Laszlo Kalman, Consul General of the Hungarian Consulate in Los Angeles, who acted in behalf of the President of Hungary. The event celebrated the friendship between Utah and the Republic of Hungary, recognizing their diplomatic, cultural, and economic ties.

Referencing Kolb’s two decades of service to the State of Utah, GOED Executive Director Val Hale said, “Franz has proven to be a tireless advocate for the State of Utah with both political and business leaders around the world. He has carried the message that Utah really is the right place to do business.”

Kolb was highly instrumental in developing the Utah Ambassador Program, which provides a platform for businesses leaders to meet key foreign government officials visiting Utah. “Franz is the premier diplomat in Utah,” noted GOED Managing Director Vincent Mikolay. “He has facilitated the hosting of more than 300 Ambassadors and Consuls General from all over the world. His knowledge of international protocol is second to none.”

During his time at GOED, Kolb has been tremendously successful in attracting foreign direct investment into the Beehive State. He has helped countless companies export their products by organizing numerous trade missions and assisting in trade show participation. In 2013, he helped organize Utah-Europe Days, a two-day conference that brought international trade experts and 15 trade representatives from European countries and the European Union to Utah. During the conference, Utah business leaders received instruction on European business strategies and the potential opportunities for enterprising Utah companies.

Utah has fostered strong ties with Hungary since being awarded the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in 1995 in Budapest. The Beehive State has hosted numerous visits from Consuls General and Ambassadors from Hungary over the years. Three such visits occurred this year. Since 2009, Utah exports to Hungary have increased by almost 50 percent.

The Hungarian Gold Cross of Merit was instituted in 1923 and became the Hungarian Order of Merit in 1935. The award is crafted with gilded silver and enamel work that is rarely equalled in quality and highly regarded throughout the world. This is the first time that the Gold Cross of Merit of Hungary has been awarded in Utah. Kolb said he was highly honored to be presented with the award.



10 Tips to Help you Think, Act and Succeed Globally

Tip #2: Identify and Utilize your Resources

It’s no secret that Utah’s economic growth has become the envy of many states across America. The success experienced here at home has afforded businesses the opportunity to expand both nationally and internationally. From 2003 to 2012, Utah experienced the highest growth in the county in exports as a share of GDP, due in part to the many resources that are available to aid local businesses in exporting their products and services. Exporting will introduce your business to nearly 7 billion potential customers. The likelihood of finding success in exporting will increase as you utilize the resources that are available to you as a Utah business.

This tip, the second in our “Ten Tips to Help you Think, Act and Succeed Globally” series, introduces your business to several organizations that provide valuable resources developed with your success in mind. WTC Utah and its partners can help you find mentors, identify service providers and locate helpful materials that will guide you on specific issues as you enter new markets internationally.

Before reaching out to organizations that can help you with your export needs, it is important to consider what your needs are. The following list presents items you should consider as you reach out for advice or assistance:

  • Information about a specific industry or product
  • Evaluation of business capabilities
  • Market entry strategy
  • Financing
  • Assistance with legal export/import requirements
  • Assistance locating businesses or distributors in country
  • Participation in trade missions and trade shows
  • Business negotiations

Below is a list of organizations, and the resources they provide, that can help you become a successful exporter:

  • World Trade Center Utah
    • Offers custom market research analysis that will help you know your “next steps” to export successfully
    • Hosts educational seminars and networking events throughout the state to aid you with the knowledge and network needed to be export ready
    • Facilitates introductions to partnering organizations and the services they provide
  • U.S. Commercial Service, Utah Export Assistance Center
    • Serves as the local office of the U.S. government’s international trade and investment promotion agency connecting businesses with trade experts and is part of a worldwide network that includes U.S. embassies and consulates
    • Offers a range of services to help you succeed internationally, including:
      • Trade Counseling on everything from your market entry strategies to export controls, regulations and documentation
      • Business Matchmaking with pre-screened international prospects
      • Market Intelligence to analyze your foreign competition, gain insight on market appeal and conduct background checks on your potential partners
      • Commercial Diplomacy to overcome your trade obstacles in international markets
  • The Governor’s Office of Economic Development International Trade and Diplomacy Office (ITDO)
    • Hosts business trade missions and trade show opportunities throughout the world
    • Offers the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant to help fund your participation on a trade mission or trade show
    • Holds region specific training seminars and provides individualized business consultations
    • Conducts diplomatic affairs of the state with foreign governments, including handling relationships with import and export divisions of foreign countries’ consular offices
  • The Small Business Administration’s local office
    • Provides financial consultation, including loan products for exporting and international trade, as well as other services to get your business off the ground and product outside the U.S.
  • Utah Small Business Development Center Network
    • Provides one-on-one, no-cost advising services to small businesses in every stage of development through one of their 15 locations across the state
    • Offers export workshops throughout Utah to small businesses on practical export assistance
    • Trains businesses in various areas such as finance, accounting, marketing, technology commercialization and export assistance
    • Provides market research focused on starting a business and expanding existing markets

World Trade Center Utah is privileged to be a close partner with U.S. Commercial Service Utah, the International Trade and Diplomacy Office in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Small Business Administration Office in Utah and the Utah Small Business Development Center network. Working with these partners, WTC Utah can guide you toward taking the appropriate next steps in your path to export readiness. Connect with us online or call our office at 801-532-8080 and speak with one of our trade service specialists to get the information you need to be a knockout on the global stage.


About World Trade Center Utah

We are located at 60 East South Temple, Suite 300, in Salt Lake City.

Call us: (801) 532-8080

Email us:

Web site:

Dec. 5, 2014


Local Headlines

Consumer optimism at record high in Utah, report says

(Deseret News)

Utah research universities rank among globally acclaimed institutions

(Deseret News)

Utah job growth, unemployment outperforming national averages


National Headlines

India: Faster Environmental Clearances to Double Coal

(Wall Street Journal)

Eurozone’s Manufacturing Expansion Grinds to a Halt

(Wall Street Journal)

American Manufacturing Is Alive and Well

(Wall Street Journal)

Hong Kong October Retail Sales Top Expectations

(Wall Street Journal)

Free Fall in Oil Price Underscores Shift Away From OPEC

(New York Times)

Factory Activity Growth Slows in Asia, Europe and U.S. in November

(New York Times)

Indian Factories Will Count and Sell Their Energy Savings

(New York Times)

ChinaC’s $6.8-Trillion Hole?


U.S. targets Alibaba Over Sales Tax ‘Loophole’

(Financial Times)

Upcoming Events



World Trade Center Utah 10 Tips Seminar: Take a Good Look in the Mirror


World Trade Center Utah Student Seminar: How to Start Your Career in International Business


Celebrating Women in International Trade 8 a.m.-3 p.m.


World Trade Center Utah 10 Tips Seminar: Learn the Lingo


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