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OU, OCAST Plan Statewide Initiative To Improve Oklahoma's Small Business Innovation Research Success

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OU, OCAST Plan Statewide Initiative To Improve Oklahoma's Small Business Innovation Research Success

NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma Innovation Hub, along with a team of collaborators from across the state of Oklahoma, has been awarded the SBIRxOK program from the U.S. Small Business Administration to increase Oklahoma’s participation in the Small Business Innovation Research program, especially among women scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. The SBIR program is “America’s Seed Fund” with $2.5 billion to stimulate high-tech research and development with commercial potential.

“The SBIRxOK program is an exciting catalyst for so many Oklahoma entrepreneurs pursuing technology-driven commercial opportunities,” said Daniel Pullin, dean of the Michael F. Price College of Business and Fred E. Brown Chair in Business and OU vice president. “Together these innovators will have a great deal to say about how we grow and diversify our economy to ensure our enduring global competitiveness. This is a proud day for Oklahoma and a shining example of the power of private sector, state and university leaders working together to shape our collective future.”

With a SBA grant of $125,000, an additional $150,000 from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, and more than $100,000 in-kind contributions from OU, the SBIRxOK effort builds on OCAST’s Small Business Research Assistance Program to increase SBIR performance through programs strategically focused on collaboration, training, mentoring and commercialization.

The SBIRxOK team is led by Tom Wavering, the founding executive director of the OU Innovation Hub and national expert on the SBIR program. Wavering has more than 18 years of experience from executive and principal investigator roles at two of the most historically successful SBIR-funded companies. In addition to Wavering, the SBIRxOK team includes experts from across Oklahoma in areas such as entrepreneurship, translational research and gender inequality.

To change the SBIR landscape in Oklahoma, the SBIRxOK effort will implement 10 new programs across Oklahoma:

1.       Oklahoma Innovation to Market Roadshow—a series of half-day workshops across Oklahoma led by Wavering to help innovators envision commercial outcomes for their ideas, consider collaboration opportunities and learn more about SBIR and the new SBIRxOK efforts.

2.       Air Force SBIR and Department of Defense Vision Workshop—a half to full-day workshop at Tinker Industry and Business Park to engage the local community in specific SBIR and related opportunities from Tinker Air Force Base and the Department of Defense.

3.       SBIR Accelerator—resources for select researchers and entrepreneurs to incorporate, register and rapidly respond to either a DoD or National Institutes of Health SBIR opportunity.

4.       Oklahoma SBIR Matchmaking—a resource for researchers and entrepreneurs and established companies to facilitate collaboration around specific SBIR opportunities.

5.       SBIR Lectures—will incorporate SBIR as a potential funding option for high-growth startups within current business and entrepreneurship classes at OU and Oklahoma State University, including institutions around the state

6.       Young Research Entrepreneurs Program—will provide grants for graduate students across Oklahoma to pursue commercialization of their technology through a 10-week program to learn the principles of entrepreneurship, mentoring and training on SBIR opportunities.

7.       Oklahoma Women Leaders in STEM and Innovation Symposium—will showcase women scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs from across Oklahoma, as well as national speakers, to promote awareness and foster collaboration.

8.       SBIR Interns—will support select MBA, engineering or science graduate students as interns with a mentor and position in a SBIR-funded or i2E-funded startup company.

9.       SBIR Reviewer Training—multiple half-day SBIR reviewer training workshops across Oklahoma’s main research universities to develop more in-state SBIR reviewers from research faculty, staff and students who already understand peer review, but not specific to SBIR.

10.   Startup Oklahoma—select Oklahoma technology startups will have the opportunity to participate in the Circular Board Accelerator, a 12-week accelerator program focused on women entrepreneurs, which culminates in a Virtual Demo Day.

The SBIRxOK team includes support from key organizations across Oklahoma and the United States: University of Oklahoma including the Office of the Vice President for Research, Michael F. Price College of Business, College of Arts and Sciences, Gallogly College of Engineering and Information Technology; OCAST; i2E; Oklahoma State University; University of Tulsa; Oklahoma-affiliate Association for Women in Science; Oklahoma Women in Technology; Oklahoma Society of Women Engineers; Oklahoma Women’s Energy Network; Oklahoma Small Business Development Center; REI Women’s Business Center; Hemphill Create; Jameson & Company; Tinker Business and Industrial Park; among others.

The SBIRxOK effort is set to launch in October 2017. For additional information about any of the new statewide efforts or small business-related programs at the OU Innovation Hub, contact

The SBIRxOK program was funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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