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$1.9 Million Federal Grant Expands OU Entrepreneurship Programs

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Entrepreneurial students in the Tom Love Innovation Hub
Entrepreneurial students in the Tom Love Innovation Hub

$1.9 Million Federal Grant Expands OU Entrepreneurship Programs

March 14, 2024

NORMAN, OKLA. – Startup OU, a program of the Tom Love Innovation Hub at the University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business, has received a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to expand its entrepreneurial programs.

The Tom Love Innovation Hub, known as the iHub, is the only organization in Oklahoma selected to receive funding from the Build to Scale Venture Challenge – a $50 million program created to grow technology-driven businesses, create high-skill, high-wage jobs and build the industries of the future.

“This investment in Oklahoma will have a generational impact,” said Tom Wavering, executive director of the iHub and the grant’s principal investigator. “We’re incredibly excited about the opportunity for Startup OU to boost the growth of scalable ventures and strengthen Oklahoma’s economic health and resilience.”

With this funding, Startup OU will scale its pre-accelerator, accelerator, incubator and related initiatives in Chickasha, Moore, Yukon, Shawnee, Purcell, Midwest City, El Reno, and other communities in central and south-central Oklahoma. The program will offer full support and resources to help founders launch ideas into viable small businesses.

Additionally, Startup OU will launch several new initiatives to commercialize university innovation and workforce development. They will also support international founders interested in launching their business in Oklahoma and build a national mentor network involving the University of Oklahoma’s alumni network.

"Under this grant, Startup OU will utilize OU's network of resources, including its engaged alumni base, world-class faculty and top student talent, to provide expanded business and operational support to early startups," said Dayten Israel, Startup OU director. "This grant also enables us to further build support for university-affiliated ventures by establishing new, impact-driven experiential learning opportunities through our new studio program. This program will utilize interdisciplinary student teams to identify commercialization pathways and source venture teams around untapped university technologies."

Since 2021, Startup OU has trained over 100 aspiring entrepreneurs, converted more than 60 entrepreneurial projects into nearly 40 active startups and created more than 150 jobs in the state.

“As Oklahoma’s leading business school, we are committed to driving entrepreneurship and innovation across the state,” said Corey Phelps, dean of the Michael F. Price College of Business. “This award is a testament to the work being done at Startup OU. This community hub provides OU students and local entrepreneurs with game-changing resources, including the iHub’s state-of-the-art Fabrication Lab, the state’s first-ever Entrepreneurial Law Center and the talented and motivated staff at Startup OU.”

Learn more about Startup OU at the University of Oklahoma and see the full Build to Scale recipients list.

About the project

Startup OU is an entrepreneurship hub located within the University of Oklahoma Michael F. Price College of Business that fosters and champions the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurial talent. The organization serves as an entry point into the University of Oklahoma, state, and regional startup ecosystems; a connection point for entrepreneurs and university resources and talent; and a launch point for university-affiliated and community startups into the state and regional economies. Connecting the university community with the vibrant and growing ecosystem in the Oklahoma City metro, Startup OU has emerged as a hub for building, connecting, and launching businesses for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members.

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. As the state’s flagship university, OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. OU was named the state’s highest-ranking university in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent Best Colleges list. For more information about the university, visit ou.edu.


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