i2E http://i2e.org Innovation to Enterprise Wed, 25 May 2016 05:49:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Oklahoma startup borrows energy industry concept to protect patients http://i2e.org/featured/oklahoma-startup-borrows-energy-industry-concept-to-protect-patients/ Wed, 25 May 2016 05:49:26 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28736 Oklahoma startup borrows energy industry concept to protect patients
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Sometime back, a doctor who was also an inventor, mentioned that the next time I visited a hospital I should be on the lookout for rubber bands and paper clips. Not in the administrative areas, he said, but attached in some way to pieces of high tech equipment.

His point was that even with amazing inventions, the people who use technology day-to-day — in his example nurses, doctors, and technicians — figure out ways to improve it, even if only through temporary workarounds using rubber bands and paper clips.

I was reminded of this recently. i2E has been working with Linear Health Sciences, a company founded by a physician and two engineers, to improve treatments that use medical tubing, for example IV lines.

Linear Health Sciences has invented an innovative break-away valve for medical tubing.

“The idea came to me working as a hospitalist,” said Ryan Dennis, MD founder and CEO.

“There are so many instances where a patient becomes confused or accidentally pulls out an IV line or a Foley catheter or when the staff is moving a patient and the lines get caught in a bed rail. When unwanted disconnects of medical tubing happens, it’s painful, dangerous, and expensive,” Dennis said.

Dennis went to an engineer friend who had worked on valves and tension disconnects in the oil industry.

They then recruited Dan Clark for his experience bringing new medical devices to market. The result is called the Orchid valve.

Catheters and IVs pull out because the medical tubing is all one piece. Using an analogy from the oil industry, that’s like doing a coil job without using a blowout preventer.

With the Orchid valve, when a length of medical tubing gets pulled too far, the tubing breaks away at the valve rather than being pulled out of the patient’s body.

The breakaway valve seals off both ends of the tube creating a sterile, clean solution.

The patient is protected. The medical tubing or catheter stays in the vein. The IV pump sends an alarm, and the appropriate medical personnel can replace the breakaway valve and restart the IV.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to keep an open mind walking through a hospital and look for opportunities to bring value to the system,” Dennis said.

Linear Health Sciences is moving into development, regulatory approvals, and quality assurance processes.

The Orchid valve is a class two medical device, which puts it in the low- to moderate-risk category. The company anticipates having product to market within eighteen months.

Innovation can come from anywhere, especially from people who are applying the technology in their day-to-day jobs. Look around for those rubber bands and paper clips.

Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

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Coming Soon: Marketing Targeted Only at You http://i2e.org/news/coming-soon-marketing-targeted-only-at-you/ http://i2e.org/news/coming-soon-marketing-targeted-only-at-you/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 15:57:38 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28725 Coming Soon: Marketing Targeted Only at You
By Derek Newton
Copyright © 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. 

The future of marketing is intensely personal — marketing targeted not just to you, but to where you are and about what you’re doing right this very moment.

Walking by a coffee shop? Your phone will buzz with a promotional code for a free cup. If you’re in a clothing store, get ready for your phone to suggest colors and styles of the shirt you’re ogling that go with clothes you had dry-cleaned last week.

You know that scene in Minority Report where the Tom Cruise character walks down the mall and is barraged by personal ads using his name? Or the other one where he goes into The Gap and a beam scans his (new) eyes and a hologram asks him, “…how’d those assorted tank tops work out for you?”

That’s coming.

Ready or not.
The technology may not be quite ready to scan your eyes and instantly access your entire buying and commercial browsing history. But almost all the data about who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve bought, what you’ve watched and who you chatted with is already stored somewhere. And that data is increasingly being connected to your smart phone — which ‘knows’ where you are right this second.

It may still feel like science fiction but that data to device to you loop is already being deployed in customer service settings. Monscierge, for example, is using the technology for some of the world’s biggest hotel brands. They do a great deal more than this but one feature of the system is the right out of the movies.

“Our management software can alert hotel staff and managers when a VIP or rewards guest walks into the lobby,” said Marcus Robinson, Chief Experience Officer at Monscierge. “By connecting the guest to the hotel, we can do things like expedite check in and provide information about things like open restaurants nearby. But we can also let the hotel know when their guests are arriving or if they are spending an unusually long time waiting for an elevator. It’s a powerful customer service tool.”

Being able to deliver on high quality, deeply personal service with this type of technology connectivity is indeed potent. Imagine arriving at your hotel and being greeted at the curb by name and with your room key in hand. I have to tell you, that would make me feel special.

Trading privacy for personalized service.
It’s probably common to think about privacy or question whether customers actually want a company or their marketing teams knowing that much about where they are and what they’re doing. But Monscierge directed me to a report by the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University that found that people are actually quite happy to trade personal information for personal service. According to that report, “…many travelers, particularly women and young travelers, are willing to share personal information on a limited basis in exchange for special services or offers.”

And the willingness to swap information for service isn’t limited to hotels. Research by airline technology specialists SITA indicated that 72 percent of passengers using mobile devices say they are willing to share data in exchange for more personalized service.

So, if you do it right, customers may actually want this type of customization. There’s already a whole field of marketing growing around the idea — GPS marketing. Although it’s just now starting to catch on, once they get the data management right, it’s easy to see that level of personal marketing — Minority Report style — taking over everything. Why send a blast e-mail or place an ad when you can sell me exactly what I’m shopping for — at the exact moment I’m shopping online or in the store?

We know where you are.
It’s still a tad fictionish to imagine how GPS marketing will be used to pitch or promote softer products and services such as web design or supply chain management. But I have little doubt that if marketing experts are really on the verge of making movies into reality, they will find a way to sell services this way as well.

Once this type of marketing becomes pervasive it could be real boon for small brand and startup players looking to break into markets dominated by high profile brands. GPS could do for these small eager players what the Internet did 20 years ago — further discount the value of physical retail space. With GPS, in theory, any product or service provider can reach into your pocket and ping you with why their product is better at the exact moment you’re shopping the competition — making any store in your market your store.

Maybe that’s still a bridge too far. But 14 years ago, when Minority Report came out, I’d have told you that entire idea of this level of personal marketing was a bridge too far.

Read the story at Entrepreneur.

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New fund provides opportunities for investors looking to boost startup firms http://i2e.org/news/new-fund-provides-opportunities-for-investors-looking-to-boost-startup-firms/ http://i2e.org/news/new-fund-provides-opportunities-for-investors-looking-to-boost-startup-firms/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 13:55:55 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28723 New fund provides opportunities for investors looking to boost startup firms
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

i2E provides entrepreneurs, investors and the state with a connected, well-understood continuum of capital. Our new fund, i2E Angel Fund I, will make that continuum of capital even more robust.

SeedStep Angels, Oklahoma’s largest organized angel group, has delivered enormous benefits to the entrepreneurs and startups of this state. The i2E Angel Fund I is an alternative for accredited angel investors who seek diversified investment in seed-stage companies without active participation in an angel group.

Since i2E organized SeedStep Angels in 2009, the angel group, SeedStep Angels, currently more than 50 accredited angel investors from across Oklahoma, has invested more than $7.5 million in more than 30 companies.

Organized angel groups invest far more than money. Many angels are cashed out or serial entrepreneurs themselves. They like to be hands-on with entrepreneurs. They want and are willing to commit the time to screen deals, engage in due diligence, mentor or serve on a startup’s board. Angel group members apply their industry knowledge and contacts to connect entrepreneurs with experts and even customers.

But this level of personal participation doesn’t work for everyone.

Over the years, we have talked with many accredited investors who were interested in allocating some portion of their portfolio to seed stage investing, but for whom the angel group model wasn’t quite a fit. Making investment decisions deal by individual deal takes time, personal due diligence, and requires multiple investments (and more money) to fully diversify.

The i2E Angel Fund I provides seed-stage capital with professional management and diversification, plus offering the satisfaction of investing in job and wealth creation in Oklahoma. The fund benefits from i2E’s deal flow of quality, well-vetted startups. (The fund’s primary focus is on Oklahoma companies, but to ensure adequate deal flow, the fund may invest outside the state.)

For entrepreneurs, raising capital at any stage can be challenging and extremely time consuming. This is especially true in the earliest life of the company. Raising seed-stage capital pulls company founders away from the very thing we most want them to be doing — validating markets, creating viable products and achieving other critical milestones that must be accomplished to accelerate successful new businesses.

There’s a gap in capital markets — a shortage of funding available from the seed stage through the startup stage ($250,000 to $5 million). The i2E Angel Fund I is one more option to close that gap for Oklahoma’s startups and entrepreneurs.

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

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108-year-old Mills Machine Co. embraces technology changes http://i2e.org/news/108-year-old-mills-machine-co-embraces-technology-changes/ http://i2e.org/news/108-year-old-mills-machine-co-embraces-technology-changes/#respond Thu, 12 May 2016 15:12:59 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28707 108-year-old Mills Machine Co. embraces technology changes
By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

SHAWNEE — The first impression you get of 108-year-old Mills Machine Co. as you approach the manufacturing complex here in Shawnee is that this place hasn’t changed in 50 years.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mills Machine Co. produces specialty earth-boring tools and accessories for the water, mining, construction, utility and environmental industries. It sells to end users and distributors across the U.S. and in 70 international markets.

“We work to stay two or three years ahead of our competition and let them continue to chase us,” said Chuck Mills, the third-generation leader of the multimillion dollar business that employs 20 people.  “We are always thinking and listening to customers and what is needed out there.”

Mills Machine was founded in 1908 by Chuck Mills’ grandfather, W.H. Homer Mills, as a repair shop in the central Oklahoma community that was a railway crossroads with a growing industrial base. W.H.’s son, David, acquired the company in the early 1970s, with Chuck purchasing it in the 1980s.

A graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, Chuck Mills owns a U.S. patent and four international patents for an innovative Milclaw drilling bit. And he has led the company’s substantial expansion into global markets. 

A mix of old-school, manually operated milling equipment and high-tech machines dominate the landscape of the Mills Machine production floor. Skilled craftsmen make custom tools using the manual milling machines to fit customer specifications.

“Mills Machine Co. sets a great example for all Oklahoma businesses by incorporating advanced technology into production processes that had been unchanged for decades,” said Michael Carolina, executive director of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. “And its global marketing vision is helping the state’s economy by bringing revenue into Oklahoma.”

However, it’s not just the machinery or markets that have evolved at Mills Machine Co. Chuck Mills himself has embraced a personal agenda with a much broader horizon than his own company’s market and products.

Mills is on a mission to grow Oklahoma by engaging business with education to prepare our kids for a successful career and future.

He’s also pushing the state’s small and rural businesses to develop international markets for their goods.

A former Shawnee mayor, Mills serves on more than a dozen boards and organizations, including the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development, Oklahoma Works, Governor’s International Team, the State Chamber of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Business Roundtable and the Globalize Oklahoma Initiative.

“This goes back full circle,” Mills said of his workforce and global business agendas. “I’m focusing on the supply and demand side. The demand is ‘let’s grow our businesses to need more people by exporting products globally.’ Then let’s help educate our kids to be employees in those businesses that are expanding.”

On the day that I rolled into Shawnee along with a pair of colleagues from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, Mills had just returned from an elementary school speaking engagement. There, he pitched the value of entrepreneurship and operating a business to a group of students who are running their own mini-ventures through a program called Economic City.

“Whether you are ever going to be an entrepreneur or own your own business or not, you need to understand how business works,” Mills said. “Some of these kids really got it. I was like ‘wow.’ I told them when I was in the fifth grade I had no idea.”

It’s a message the educators need to hear, as well, he said. 

“Educators understand what they are doing is not working,” Mills said. “It’s not their fault and the business community must step up to help them. Students are just being dumped out at the end — if they don’t drop out — and they are not ready. Many of them lack the proper skills or certifications. Businesses can bring resources that schools desperately need right now.”

Just as Mills Machine Co. has embraced high-tech machinery and international markets, Chuck Mills is working to create a better equipped workforce while opening new markets for all Oklahoma businesses.

“My job is to go out and open doors and inspire others to come join me and be a part of the solution to help us all grow,” Mills said. I’m just trying to do my part.”

Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)

Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST).

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Communication skills are important for those entering the workforce http://i2e.org/news/communication-skills-are-important-for-those-entering-the-workforce/ http://i2e.org/news/communication-skills-are-important-for-those-entering-the-workforce/#respond Tue, 10 May 2016 14:48:30 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28695 Communication skills are important for those entering the workforce
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

When I was a child, I used to receive long, handwritten letters from my grandmother containing pearls of wisdom that I appreciate more with each passing year. She understood the art of communication in writing.

From her letters, some of Grandmother’s interest in communicating in writing got passed on to me. It has stood me in good stead over the years.

I thought about my grandmother’s letters recently as I was preparing for a keynote address I gave at a DaVinci Institute event honoring a special group of Oklahoma educators and student teachers for creativity in the education process.

The DaVinci Institute has the mission of improving K-12 education and to “promote a statewide creative renaissance,” and gives recognition and grants to educators who come up with great new ways of teaching. I like what they do.

My topic for the speech was Education for Innovation. There are two parts to that. One is that we need more technology graduates and expanded STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for all students.

Companies large and small are crying out for people with science and technology skills. There are 2.5 entry level job postings for each new bachelor’s degree recipient in a STEM field, compare with 1.1 postings for non-STEM positions.

At more than 8.4 million jobs, STEM occupations are growing faster than any other type of jobs — 20 percent since 2000.

But the perception that the business sector wants people trained to do the technical aspects of their jobs misses what the business sector really needs. Businesses need people who have essential technical foundational knowledge so they can provide training for the specific technical requirements of the particular job.

However, businesses also need something additional from the higher education system — graduates who possess critical thinking and problem solving skills, and have the ability to be strong communicators — verbally and in writing.

That’s why the initial emphasis of the Governor’s Cup Business Plan competition is on a written business plan.

Teams earn their way to the oral presentation stages of the competition by writing (and rewriting, often many times) a cohesive and cogent business plan — a written plan that communicates technical concepts and original ideas so clearly that a stranger who reads it understands.

In these days of texting, email and emojis, long handwritten letters like my grandmother wrote rarely happen anymore.

I’m not advocating we all trade our keyboards and keypads in for pencils and pens, but I do think we’ve lost something — something more important than handwriting.

It takes critical thinking to be able to communicate on a page or even a computer screen. And we need more critical thinkers — lots more.

Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)

Did You Know?
According to a test of nearly 32,000 students, up to four in 10 U.S. college students graduate without the complex reasoning skills to manage white-collar work. 
Source: Wall Street Journal

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

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Oklahoma treasurers: This policy decision is working as intended http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-treasurers-this-policy-decision-is-working-as-intended/ http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-treasurers-this-policy-decision-is-working-as-intended/#respond Fri, 06 May 2016 21:31:35 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28669 Oklahoma treasurers: This policy decision is working as intended
By Scott Meacham, Robert Butkin and Ken Miller
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

As word of the national tobacco Master Settlement Agreement came down to states in 1998, many states hoped for a windfall — a pot of money that could immediately be put into state coffers to pay for pressing and immediate needs. Oklahoma voters endorsed a different idea and, today, the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) continues to be an example of a wise choice to make provision for long-term funding to combat health problems that cost our state money and take lives.

In anticipation of the ongoing payments from the tobacco industry, bipartisan leaders in Oklahoma envisioned a plan for voters to consider that would divide the money between the Legislature and a constitutionally protected endowment that would be invested with earnings used to improve the health and well-being of Oklahomans.

Under the plan approved by voters in 2000, three-quarters of each payment is invested in an endowment under the management of an appointed board of investors, chaired by the state treasurer. Proceeds from the investments are put to use by the board for grants and programs, fulfilling the promise to “Save it, Grow it, and Spend it on Health.” The remaining 25 percent is divided between a fund primarily used by the Legislature to help with the state’s Medicaid budget and the attorney general’s evidence fund.

More than 15 years later, Oklahoma stands out among other states for its foresight to provide permanent funding for health. The endowment strategy is working. Investment earnings certified since inception are close to $290 million, and the endowment has $1.02 billion working to generate annual earnings of more than $40 million.

There has always been temptation to bust open the piggy bank to address short-term needs and fill budget holes. As the endowment’s balance grows, so, too, will the temptation. An endowment only works when it is left alone to perform as intended, so restraint shown by leaders in both parties is to be applauded.

TSET is leveraging partnerships and enriching our state with research efforts that bring innovation and jobs to Oklahoma, softening the blow of the state’s energy sector slump.

TSET partners with communities, schools and local organizations to create healthy, vibrant communities that become destinations, not just a place for those who grew up there. TSET has also picked up programs the Legislature has approved, but not funded, including two initiatives to train, recruit and retain doctors in rural areas of our state.

Oklahoma’s smoking population is decreasing, and the number of those who have never smoked is increasing. By all early indications, this was a policy decision, backed by voters, that is doing exactly what it advertised it would do — “Save it, Grow it, Spend it on Health.”

Miller is Oklahoma state treasurer. Meacham and Butkin are former state treasurers.

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

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The State of Small Business: Oklahoma http://i2e.org/news/the-state-of-small-business-oklahoma/ http://i2e.org/news/the-state-of-small-business-oklahoma/#respond Fri, 06 May 2016 21:18:50 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28665 The State of Small Business: Oklahoma
By Adam C. Uzialko
Copyright © 2016 Purch

As part of our yearlong project “The State of Small Business,” Business News Daily plans to report on the small business environment in every state in America. In this installment, we asked a few of Oklahoma’s roughly 350,000 small business owners about the challenges and opportunities of operating in their state. Here’s what they had to say.

Entrepreneurs in Oklahoma are enthusiastic about the prospects for their state’s future. While the energy-centric state economy has taken a hit due to the drop in oil prices, most small business owners remain unconcerned. In fact, they see a silver lining in the improved labor market after energy sector layoffs; Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is still low, but more people are looking for work and local small businesses are eager to offer it to them. One of the largest advantages to owning and operating a small business in Oklahoma is the state’s extremely low cost of living. In addition, state-level taxation is particularly manageable, leaving entrepreneurs with more money to reinvest in their companies.

The downside is that, although the labor market has improved, the hit to the energy sector has dinged Oklahoma’s economy. Entrepreneurs are far from in crisis mode, but there is slight concern that in the short term, there will be less money to go around. Moreover, accessing capital to finance startups and expansions is much harder than in more active markets on the coasts. Small business owners reported that it is possible for a company to access capital, but only after rigorously searching.

By far the most cited benefit of doing business in Oklahoma is the low cost of living. Overhead expenses are dramatically reduced, and employee compensation is extremely affordable, particularly because of the low housing costs. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the average cost of living in Oklahoma is 84 percent that of the national average, with housing as the largest contributor to its low cost. On Sperling’s list, national averages are equal to 100, and Oklahoma’s housing costs ranked 63.

“[One] thing that has been great for our company is the low cost of living and affordable real estate costs,” Kelly Edwards, co-founder and CEO of Lawton Marketing Group, said. “Your dollar goes father here, so you can live on less and reinvest more back into the business.”

“One of the comments we hear from our team members at ConsumerAffairs who have relocated from other states is the shock over how low the cost of real estate and cost of living are,” Zac Carman, CEO of Consumer Affairs, said.

Oklahoma boasts a relatively low unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, which is on the rise primarily due to layoffs in the oil and gas industry. However, most entrepreneurs who spoke to Business News Daily said the layoffs have freed up much-needed labor and hiring has now become easier.

“In recent years, Oklahoma has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country,” Mark Sinatra, CEO of human resources company StaffOne HR, said. “The labor market is moving toward more of a healthy equilibrium, given some recent layoffs in the oil and gas market.”

Another benefit of operating in Oklahoma is the straightforward regulations. Entrepreneurs in the Sooner State reported easy-to-navigate regulations that made setting up a new business or expanding an existing one a simple process.

“I always like to point out that one can do all the paperwork necessary to register your business with the necessary authorities in a day,” Mat Smith, president and co-founder of WeGoLook, said. “It’s a very painless process.”

In addition to the friendly regulatory framework, Oklahomans enjoy modest tax rates. The state’s corporate income tax stands at six percent, while the sales tax is 4.5 percent of a business’s gross receipts. The personal income tax rate in Oklahoma has a top marginal rate of 5.25 percent, and there is no capital gains tax. All in all, Oklahoma’s tax policy is not particularly burdensome for most small business owners.

“We have thrived here in Oklahoma, and it’s definitely a pro-business state with policies and opportunities to help companies succeed,” Edwards said.

Small businesses in Oklahoma will notice an increased degree of difficulty to attaining capital compared with more active markets. While it’s not entirely impossible to secure financing, entrepreneurs said capital isn’t as commonly lent as it is in places like Silicon Valley.

“Access to Capital is lower than average due to a lack of a formal investment network; this is not the San Francisco Bay Area,” Carman said. “However, if a business shows promise, capital is available. It’s just not as readily available.”

“There is not a great deal of venture capital available in Oklahoma,” Smith said. “Entrepreneurs still need to look to New York, Silicon Valley, Chicago, Boston and a few other cities to find equity financing.”

The oil and gas industry represents roughly 10 percent of Oklahoma’s annual gross domestic product. As the price of oil has dropped in recent months, this industry has experienced some downsizing, which has led to a bit of a hiccup in the state economy. While entrepreneurs were happy to see the benefits to the labor market as a result, there is also some concern that the reduction in oil and gas jobs will lead to less disposable income for many denizens of Oklahoma. That, in turn, could potentially harm small business profits.

“I know a lot of other local businesses are being impacted by falling oil prices,” Edwards said. “No matter how you want to look at it, Oklahoma is an energy-centric state, so that’s a legitimate concern for many.”

If you’re a small business owner in Oklahoma looking for resources to help you move forward, here are a few organizations you might want to learn more about.

Oklahoma SCORE

SCORE’s volunteer business professionals and expert “mentors” give counsel and guidance to entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their businesses. The services are entirely free and volunteer-driven. Here are some of the chapters in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City SCORE
Ardmore SCORE
Tulsa SCORE

Dallas SCORE
Fort Worth SCORE
Wichita SCORE

U.S. Small Business Administration District Offices

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers financing and grants, as well as consultations and counseling services. There are also opportunities to apply for federal government contracts through the SBA and avenues for obtaining assistance in the wake of natural disasters.

U.S. SBA District Office

Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers

Oklahoma hosts a number of development centers for small business. Each is dedicated to supporting the development and retention of small businesses, helping entrepreneurs do everything from crafting business plans to navigate the state’s tax code. You can find your region’s small business development center at the link below.

Oklahoma SBDC Network

TYPros

Tulsa’s Young Professionals is an organization based in Oklahoma’s second largest city. The group, founded in April 2005, is dedicated to connecting young professionals with members of the local community, as well as business and government leaders to help establish and grow their ideas.

TYPros

Center for Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Studies

CETES is an incubator located in Southwest Oklahoma that offers co-working spaces and support services to encourage growth and innovation. The incubator at CETES provides mentorship, assistance in accessing capital, and networking opportunities.

CETES

Innovation to Enterprise

I2E is a private non-profit corporation dedicated to investing in technological entrepreneurs with the aim of building more successful, high-growth companies within Oklahoma. I2E partners with entrepreneurs, researchers, and other companies to help small businesses better monetize their technologies and spur further innovation.

I2E

Oklahoma Venture Forum

The Oklahoma Venture Forum is a non-profit organization that connects investors and entrepreneurs with one another. The group seeks to encourage the business community to “exchange experiences and ideas through discussions and studies of venture investing and the growth of new and existing small businesses.”

OVF

Read the story at Business News Daily.

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Record shows Oklahoma’s investment in early stage companies is right move http://i2e.org/news/record-shows-oklahomas-investment-in-early-stage-companies-is-right-move/ http://i2e.org/news/record-shows-oklahomas-investment-in-early-stage-companies-is-right-move/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 14:33:53 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28656 Record shows Oklahoma’s investment in early stage companies is right move
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

I’m a native fifth-generation Oklahoman. I get loud and proud when our state does something right. But I am even louder when our state does something wrong.

“Right” was our Legislature having the vision 30 years ago to invest in innovation by creating the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) and through that enabling statute funding a “commercialization center” that is now i2E.

Also “right” was to stay the course as our state began to reap the rewards.

“Wrong” would be to continue the trend of the past several years of disinvesting in this proven path for innovation — as the Legislature feels it’s been forced to do over the last few budget cycles. (i2E has been cut 34 percent since 2009.)

We are at a tipping point; further cuts risk all the good that has come about.

The argument for solving the current budget crisis some other way isn’t emotional; our impact is fact.

The proof of the rightness of investment in innovation is in the jobs created — 887 full-time equivalent employees from 1998 to 2015, with 129 of those new positions reported in 2015.

The average salary earned — $68,000, which is 64 percent higher than the Oklahoma average. And in the revenue reported — $113 million in 2015 alone.

And then there’s the investment capital that is leveraged through the Oklahoma Seed Capital and Concept Funds and the venture advisory services we provide.

Since 2000, the $39 million in investment capital i2E has provided has resulted in i2E client portfolio companies raising more than $563 million in private capital.

That means that for every dollar the state invests, another $14 of critical early capital comes from banks, venture capital funds, angel investors, and other strategic investors.

How many other recipients of state funding have produced that rate of return?

Our state doesn’t have (and likely isn’t going to have) a Sand Hill Road — that mecca of venture capital in Menlo Park, Calif.

Nearly every Silicon Valley company has been a beneficiary of early funding from VCs who call Sand Hill home.

The relatively small amount of state funding the Legislature provides gives Oklahoma entrepreneurs an accessible starting point, a core source of capital with which to attract additional critical early capital. Without that catalyst, our pipeline of high growth startups could start to implode.

Those legislators nearly 30 years ago were right when they took the risk of funding OCAST and i2E. They are still right today.

The only difference is that we have proof. Based on this proof, Oklahoma needs to budget more to help early stage companies succeed. This is not the time to budget less.

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

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ECU students victorious at competition http://i2e.org/gov-cup-news/ecu-students-victorious-at-competition/ http://i2e.org/gov-cup-news/ecu-students-victorious-at-competition/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:35:31 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28651 ECU students victorious at competition
© Copyright 2016 theadanews.com

ADA — Ways to improve airline and back seats were the innovative entrepreneur ideas that took first and second place for East Central University teams at the 2016 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Thursday, April 14.

Air-Ez, led by ECU freshman Larisa Bolin of Ada and team member ECU senior Breanna Ragan of McAlester, took first place in the Small Business Division. Air-Ez is an easily attachable system that turns a typical airline seat into a safe and comfortable seat for handicapped and mobility-impaired individuals.

James Brown, an ECU junior from Shawnee, took second with Back Seat Hero. Back Seat Hero is a pressure-sensitive mat with indicator lights that signal the driver to a passenger’s presence in the back seat.

Bolin was also named a 2016 Paulsen Award Scholarship recipient. The $5,000 scholarship, named in honor of Oklahoma Business Roundtable President Don Paulsen, is designed to encourage Oklahoma’s future leaders to continue their education while at the same time contributing their viewpoints to the ongoing dialogue on key economic issues.

The statewide competition, hosted by i2E, Inc., Innovation to Enterprise, encourages team building, academic diversity, market research and financial projections as key elements in creating a winning team.

“I’m proud of the hard work and dedication these students put in. They spent hours and hours getting ready,” said Dr. Stacey Bolin, faculty advisor to the ECU teams. “These two teams felt added pressure because the successes of the teams from last year. They handled it well and achieved great results.”

Last year, ECU teams swept the Small Business Division, earning first place with Team SuiteSeat, Team Gourmet Grub in second and Team Back-Spin took third.

According to Dr. Bolin, this competition has far-reaching effects, not only for the individual students but the state as a whole.

“One of my favorite things is that the judges give constructive feedback to get our students to the next level. The goal is to impact the economy (with small business) in the state of Oklahoma,” she said. “This fantastic learning experience gives students real-world experience in launching a new business.”

Once an idea took shape, a written plan was formulated. It takes a great deal of research and includes a description of the business; industry background; marketing environment, including the primary and potential competition; operational factors; business resources; management; financial capabilities and needs; and, in the case of start-up, the breakdown point and potential.

A pitch contest was next where each team gave a 90-second pitch on its business plan concept. The key to a great pitch is the ability to describe who you are, what you do, how you do it and how much money you need.

Then came the presentation, which told potential investors the market need and solution; described the business model, product and service; size of the industry and market; marketing strategy; sales plan; competitive advantage; marketing team; funding requirements; use of funds; financials; and exit strategy.

This is the fourth straight year in which ECU has sent teams to the Governor’s Cup competition. In addition to the teams’ success in 2015, Miranda McNabb received the Paulsen Award Scholarship and Miles Mitchell won the pitch competition. In 2014, two ECU teams reached the finals and Team LockWall captured second place. In 2013, ECU Team Common Ground reached the finals but did not place. Andrea McKinney was awarded the Paulsen Award Scholarship in 2013.

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Oklahoma’s 1980s oil problems leads to career in biotechnology for local lawyer http://i2e.org/news/oklahomas-1980s-oil-problems-leads-to-career-in-biotechnology-for-local-lawyer/ http://i2e.org/news/oklahomas-1980s-oil-problems-leads-to-career-in-biotechnology-for-local-lawyer/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:13:58 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28646 Oklahoma’s 1980s oil problems leads to career in biotechnology for local lawyer
By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

A promising career as a securities lawyer awaited Doug Branch when he graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1982. Oklahoma was the heart of a booming energy economy with lots of oil and gas firms that needed legal work as they raised capital and dealt with regulators.

A couple of months later Penn Square Bank went belly up.

The Penn Square collapse set off a domino effect of bank failures that coincided with declining energy prices and ultimately cost the jobs of thousands of Oklahomans. By 1988, the law firm that Branch worked for was suffering along with the rest of the state.

“Our business was in the tank,” Branch said recently at the OU Research Park. “The law business in Oklahoma City was terrible, and I knew I had to change my practice.”

Fast-forward almost 30 years. Branch recently was named CEO of an up-and-coming biotechnology startup called Biolytx Pharmaceuticals Corp.

So how did a securities attorney who focuses on the energy industry make the transition to CEO of a life science company? 

The evolution began in those dark days of the late 1980s. Branch committed himself to learning all he could about licensing and managing intellectual property and representing technology companies.

By 1988, the state Legislature had created the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST).

“I became familiar with OCAST,” he said. “My first technology project was working with a professor at OU in the engineering school who was developing superconducting thin films.”

That year Branch also began representing Sonic Corp., a relationship that continues in 2016 with Phillips Murrah, the Oklahoma City law firm where Branch was a partner until this year.

“I was so fortunate because if that engagement didn’t happen I would probably have been fired,” he said. “And it sustained me for the time that it took to develop my technology practice. Cliff Hudson, the CEO of Sonic, was general counsel then and he and I are still great friends.”

Immersion in biotech

Branch so completely immersed himself in technology that he joined the OCAST board in the early 1990s as its chairman. During his time on the board, the agency launched an ambitious plan to diversify the Oklahoma economy. 

Centers of Excellence in manufacturing, molecular medicine, and laser technology were developed at OU and Oklahoma State University. The Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance was created. Funding programs took off.

“OCAST invested big in those Centers of Excellence,” Branch said. “They were great investments, especially for the Oklahoma Health Center. It was a huge deal for biotechnology here.”

Branch’s involvement in biotechnology also began to expand. His clients have included high-profile startups such as Zymetx, Riley Genomics, Novazyme, Altheus Therapeutics and Cytovance Biologics, among others.

The construction and growth of the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park — now the OU Research Park — also added to the momentum, both for the biotech industry and for Branch.

“I opened up my office there in 2004 and it was called Biotech Law Associates,” he said. “I went to the annual BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization) show as a member. In fact, I went to the first BIO show at the Research Triangle Park as OCAST chairman probably in ’92 or ’93.”

Now company’s CEO

Through an association with William Hagstrom of Alpha Bio Partners, Branch became acquainted with OU professor Anne Pereira, Ph.D. Pereira had co-founded Biolytx Pharmaceuticals with Hagstrom based on her groundbreaking work in developing peptides that kill antibiotic resistant bacteria. That relationship eventually led him to his current position as CEO of the company. 

“Our objectives are to develop our pipeline of peptides to the point where we can enter into collaborations with pharma companies to get through clinical trials,” Branch said. “That’s going to take time and a lot of money. It’s a great challenge, but it’s fascinating and exciting.”

As Branch looked back over the past three decades, he says he would never have predicted the rise of biotech here or his participation in the industry.

“This was inconceivable when I graduated from law school,” he said. “I mean, this industry didn’t even exist then. The notion that I would be involved in biotech, I couldn’t imagine ever doing anything like this. But I’m having the time of my life.”

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Jim Stafford writes about Oklahoma innovation and research and development topics on behalf of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology.

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Creation of OCAST responsible for boosted entrepreneurship in Oklahoma http://i2e.org/news/creation-of-ocast-responsible-for-boosted-entrepreneurship-in-oklahoma/ http://i2e.org/news/creation-of-ocast-responsible-for-boosted-entrepreneurship-in-oklahoma/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 13:37:03 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28644 Creation of OCAST responsible for boosted entrepreneurship in Oklahoma
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

I’ve worked in and up close to state government. I’ve seen the good times, and I’ve ridden through plenty of rough patches, too — like the one we’re experiencing now as our Legislature tries to figure out how to close a huge budget hole.

Through it all, I’ve seen a lot of activity and self-congratulation for accomplishments big and small.

What I haven’t seen is a moment of legislative clarity equal to the moment nearly 30 years ago when state lawmakers created the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.

Think back to that time. In the mid- to late-’80s, there wasn’t an Internet. Not only were there no smartphones or iPhone apps, it took two hands and $2,499 to hold a mobile phone ($1,399 to have a car-mounted one that only worked when the car was running).

Yet that was when a visionary group of Oklahoma legislators, as well as business and community leaders, recognized that the state needed to create more innovation and help ensure the innovation that was occurring resulted in jobs and economic benefit for the state.

Embracing a challenge

They embraced the challenge by committing the resources — immediate and long term — to create more science, more research and more innovation.

The Legislature created OCAST, and when they did, as part of the enabling statue, they required OCAST to create something called the “commercialization center,” an entity required to be a private, not-for-profit company under the OCAST umbrella with the mission of providing commercialization services, attracting and retaining technology, and attracting capital to build high-growth companies in Oklahoma.

i2E was the original contractor. First dubbed the Oklahoma Technology Commercialization Center and then, in 1998, rebranded i2E, our company began as an unprecedented public-private partnership to provide commercialization under private contract to the state.

Since then, i2E has served more than 600 Oklahoma companies. Our impact ranges from encouraging Oklahoma’s best and brightest students to consider entrepreneurship as a career through the Governor’s Cup, to providing advisory services that accelerate high-growth startups in Oklahoma, to investing capital to help those companies grow and expand.

In hindsight, voting for innovation back in the ’80s was a transformational moment for Oklahoma. There aren’t many of those in any state.

The question facing Oklahoma today is whether our current Legislature in the current crisis will have the will and foresight to continue the tremendous economic impact of that transformational moment when we stood tall and invested to make innovation an economic driver in this state.

It is easy for politicians to sacrifice the long-term best interests of our state for the immediate needs of the crisis of the day.

Oklahoma desperately needs the resource that was created almost 30 years ago to drive innovation, jobs and wealth creation in our state. 

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

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Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores announced as new signature sponsor http://i2e.org/govcup-featured/oklahoma-city-based-loves-travel-stops-country-stores-announced-as-new-signature-sponsor/ http://i2e.org/govcup-featured/oklahoma-city-based-loves-travel-stops-country-stores-announced-as-new-signature-sponsor/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 14:03:26 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28640

Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores announced as new signature sponsor
By Jim Stafford

In a night full of surprises for student participants and guests alike, organizers of the recent Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition saved the biggest surprise for last: new signature sponsor.

Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores was announced as the new Signature Sponsor of the annual entrepreneurship competition for Oklahoma college students.

Scott Meacham, CEO of competition manager i2E, Inc., made the announcement at the conclusion of the annual awards dinner held at the Chevrolet Bricktown Events Center. 

Love’s will become the event’s Signature Sponsor beginning in 2017, replacing the founding sponsor, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

The Reynolds Foundation has sponsored the event for the past 12 years, underwriting the cash prizes annually awarded to winning teams of college students.  The Foundation is set to dissolve at the end of this year and no longer will be awarding grants.

“My concern when I learned the Reynolds Foundation was liquidating was how could we keep this great resource for our state and its college students,” Meacham said. “The competition is too important and too valuable to lose.”

More than 1,700 students from campuses across Oklahoma have participated in the Governor’s Cup, including more than 200 this year.

“That is why I am pleased and honored to share with you how fortunate we are to have found the perfect partner in Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores to continue and build upon what we have been able to accomplish over the past 12 years,” Meacham said.

Founded by Tom and Judy Love, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores operates fuel stations and convenience stores at more than 370 locations nationwide. It employs 15,000 people in 40 states and has annual revenue of $22 billion.

“We’re delighted to be part of this competition that celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of our culture here at Love’s, and we’re excited to support the innovators of tomorrow,” said Vice President of Communications Jenny Love Meyer.

In the final Reynolds Foundation-sponsored Governor’s Cup, teams from Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and East Central University claimed first place finishes in the High Growth Graduate, High Growth Undergraduate and Small Business divisions.

Mito Material Solutions from OSU claimed first place in the High Growth Graduation Division.  Team members were Haley Kurtz, team leader, and Kevin Keith. Richard Gajan was the team advisor.

Second place in the Graduate Division went to Nutripeutics from OU, while WoodPro from OSU took third place.

In the High Growth Undergraduate Division, Project Pediatrics from the University of Oklahoma claimed first place.  Team members were Krishna Manohar, team leader, and team members John Dastague, Nikita Hussain, Harrison Morrow and Eli Weathers. Team advisor was Alyssa Boutelle.

Second place in the Undergraduate Division was awarded to Heart Optic LLC from the University of Central Oklahoma, while third place went to KegSafe from Oral Roberts University.

The top two finishers in each of the High Growth divisions go on to compete for an additional $118,000 in the Tri-State competition in Las Vegas in May.

In the Small Business Division, AIR-EZ from East Central University claimed the first place prize.  Team leader was Larisa Bolin and team member was Breanna Ragan. Team advisor was Stacey Bolin.

Second place in the Small Business Division went to Back Seat Hero from ECU, while Pure Golf from St. Gregory’s University claimed third place.

Other category winners recognized during the Awards Dinner included top teams from The Interview, in which High Growth Division teams sat down in February with experts in the industry category of their business plan.

The Interview winners were:

KegSafe, Oral Roberts University won the AT&T Information Technology/Communications; Heart Optic, LLC, University of Central Oklahoma won the Greater Oklahoma Chamber Healthcare; ARdecor, University of Oklahoma won the i2E, Inc. Student Generated Technology Design; Cubby Connect, University of Oklahoma won the OG&E Positive Energy and Environmental; and Mito Material Solutions, Oklahoma State University won the Oklahoma Business Roundtable Manufacturing, Material Sciences and Transportation.

Winners of the IBM pitch competition were:

Anthony Purinton, Phunctional Foods, University of Central Oklahoma, High Growth Graduate Division; Morgan Timmons, Somaware, University of Central Oklahoma, High Growth Undergraduate Division; and Austin McRay, Altimeter, Oklahoma Christian University, Small Business Division.

Winners of $5,000 Paulsen Award scholarships from the Oklahoma Business Roundtable were Larisa Bolin, East Central University, Small Business Division; Robert Gallegos Castillo, Oral Roberts University; Undergraduate Division; and Amanda Curtis, University of Oklahoma, Graduate Division.

Winner of the Robert E. Craine Outstanding Venture Award was Nutripeutics from OU. Named in honor of the late Robert Craine, a founding board member of i2E, the award recognizes an exceptional business concept presented during the competition.

The Awards Dinner was a “transformational” night for the business plan competition.  One era passed and a new era dawned with Love’s as the Signature Sponsor.

“With Love’s strong history of entrepreneurship beginning with a single startup location and growing into a national market leader, theirs is a story that would inspire any entrepreneur,” Meacham said. “Thank you, Love’s, for accepting the role of Signature Sponsor; we look forward to the competition next year.”

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Love’s Travel Stops to take over as sponsor of state’s student business plan competition http://i2e.org/news/loves-travel-stops-to-take-over-as-sponsor-of-states-student-business-plan-competition/ http://i2e.org/news/loves-travel-stops-to-take-over-as-sponsor-of-states-student-business-plan-competition/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2016 13:53:38 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28626 Love’s Travel Stops to take over as sponsor of state’s student business plan competition
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

The celebrations that have capped off each year of the Donald W. Reynolds Business Plan Competition have always been memorable and inspirational.

There’s nothing quite like the edge-of-your-seat enthusiasm and excitement that builds up as the college students who have put so much effort and creativity into the Governor’s Cup learn who will win the competition.

The Gov Cup winners weren’t the only exciting news at this year’s gala.

The Reynolds Foundation is liquidating and no longer will be underwriting the Gov Cup prizes and scholarships after this year.

The impact of this competition on our state and its students has been too valuable and important to lose, so months ago, we undertook a search for the right strategic partner — an entrepreneurial Oklahoma company that would be willing to step in and continue the competition and take it to the next level, building on all that the Gov Cup has accomplished over the last 12 years.

And we found the perfect signature sponsor — Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, a company with a history of entrepreneurship that began in 1964 with a single startup location in far western Oklahoma and is now near the top of Forbes annual list of largest private companies.

With hundreds of locations and 15,000 employees in 40 states, Love’s continues to be a beacon for innovation and entrepreneurship. We are thrilled and honored Love’s has agreed to underwrite the future of the Governor’s Cup.

“We’re delighted to be part of this competition that celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of our culture here at Love’s, and we’re excited to support the innovators of tomorrow,” said Vice President of Communications Jenny Love Meyer.

When we started, we had a vision for the Governor’s Cup, but there is no way we could have fully anticipated the enormous impact that this business plan competition would have on our state — impact that goes well beyond the awards.

More than 1,700 students from campuses across Oklahoma have taken the Governor’s Cup challenge.

The Gov Cup crosses disciplines — engineering students team with marketers and finance majors — which compels students to understand challenges and solve problems from different perspectives in a group setting.

Opening doors

Most importantly, the Governor’s Cup opens the door to a first-hand experience of what really goes on in the business world.

The Governor’s Cup experience empowers students to use entrepreneurial thinking and teamwork to create business value and breakthrough ideas.

And what better example could there be for inspiration than Love’s, a company whose country stores and travel stops have revolutionized their industry.

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org

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2016 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Winners http://i2e.org/gov-cup-news/28601/ http://i2e.org/gov-cup-news/28601/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 15:46:32 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28601

High Growth Graduate Division

First Place

MITO-compressor

MITO Material Solutions, Oklahoma State University

Advisor: Richard Gajan
Team Leader: Haley Kurtz
Team Member: Kevin Keith
MITO has developed a cost-effective nano-filler additive that can toughen fiber-reinforced composite structures using an organic polymer formula.

Second Place

Nutripeutics-compressor

Nutripeutics, University of Oklahoma

Advisor: Ronald Bolen
Team Leader: Amanda Curtis
Team Members: Chuck Burkardt, Corey Walker and Daniel Ward
Nutripeutics develops immune boosting feed additives as an antibiotic-alternative to disease control and prevention for livestock animals.

Third Place

WoodPro-compressor

WoodPro, Oklahoma State University

Advisor: Richard Gajan
Team Leader: Gabriel Bahr
Team Members: Sourabh Biswas and Samyukta Koteeswaran
WoodPro develops a sustainable, durable and long-lasting new wood composite, using red cedar sawdust and epoxy resin, which outlasts current market concepts.

High Growth Undergraduate Division

First Place

Project-Pediatrics-compressor

Project Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma

Advisor: Alyssa Boutelle
Team Leaders: Krishna Manohar
Team Members: John Dastague, Nikita Hussain, Harrison Morrow and Eli Weathers
Project Pediatrics’ Mobi is a mobile vital signs monitor designed for pediatric patients that integrates seamlessly with hospital technology via wifi. 

Second Place

Heart-Optic-compressor

Heart Optic, University of Central Oklahoma

Advisor: Maurice Haff
Team Leader: Yusuf Shurbaji (not pictured)
Team Member: Claye Hammock
Heart Optic LLC produces the Heart Bar™, a medical device that enables continuous CPR during image-guided procedures and ends caregiver exposure to x-ray radiation

Third Place

KegSafe-compressor

KegSafe, Oral Roberts University

Advisor: Bruno Teles
Team Leaders: Jonathan Cregor
Team Member: Derrick McCoy
KegSafe is a beer inventory system for restaurants and bars to prevent inventory theft.

Small Business Division

First Place

Air-Ez-compressor

Air-Ez, East Central University

Faculty Advisor: Stacey Bolin
Team Leader: Larisa Bolin
Team Members: Breanna Ragan
Air-Ez is an easily attachable electronic system that turns a typical airline seat into a safe and comfortable seat for handicapped and mobility impaired individuals. 

Second Place

Back-Seat-Hero-compressor

Back Seat Hero, East Central University

Faculty Advisor: Stacey Bolin
Team Leader: James Brown
Back Seat Hero is a pressure-sensitive mat with indicator lights that signal the driver to a passenger’s presence in the back seat.

Third Place

Pure-Golf-compressor

Püre Golf, St. Gregory's University

Faculty Advisor: Mayda Shorney
Team Leader: Brett Kennedy
Team Members: Taylor Greteman, Smaida Mara Rizzotto and Bobby Stone
Püre Golf is a “mobile” golf facility that will arrive at your venue and provide professional club fitting, video swing analysis, high performance training and event planning for corporations and companies looking to entertain clients and employees.

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Initiative gets underway in OKC to develop a ‘Nucleus’ hub http://i2e.org/news/initiative-gets-underway-in-okc-to-develop-a-nucleus-hub/ http://i2e.org/news/initiative-gets-underway-in-okc-to-develop-a-nucleus-hub/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:29:25 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28594 Initiative gets underway in OKC to develop a ‘Nucleus’ hub
By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Every workday, the Oklahoma Health Center campus just east of downtown is home to almost 17,000 people who pursue medical education or work in health care, education and research-related jobs.

When their workday is done, they go home.

Now an initiative is underway to make the 325-acre campus more inviting as a place for people to linger after work by creating places to gather, eat, drink and perhaps even live.

The Oklahoma Health Center is home to world-renowned research institutions, hospitals and the various colleges of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

In October, the Brookings Institute announced Oklahoma City as one of two pilot cities that are part of a study into developing an Innovation District. It already has held informational meetings and tours to gather ideas on just what that might look like.

As president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Dr. Stephen Prescott has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Innovation District concept.

“One of our challenges right now is that the Health Sciences Center is not conducive to chance interactions,” Prescott said. “You don’t just bump into people. The idea here is to encourage this type of behavior by connectiveness and making places where people can meet and eat easily.”

Innovation Districts feature density in development, housing, walkability and amenities that draw people out of their laboratories and offices.

Brookings is working with Oklahoma City partners to determine how best to develop the Oklahoma Health Center campus and adjacent Automobile Alley into a vibrant Innovation District. The initiative includes the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Presbyterian Health Foundation, the Alliance for Economic Development, i2E Inc. and OMRF.

Terry Taylor, president of the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, describes the ultimate goal of an Innovation District as “placemaking.”

The current Health Center campus is full of wide streets, unconnected buildings and no place where people can live if they choose or even casually gather.

“We are looking to make better physical places within this geographic area,” Taylor said. “We can create a commercial area that will be a people place and will have different uses, different commercial activities. There can be a downtown center, for instance, a nucleus for people to come together when the come to get their lunch, their coffee, whatever. The benefits will be whatever spins off from all of that.”

Brookings also suggested taking bold steps to connect the Oklahoma Health Sciences campus to the Automobile Alley to the west, which would require building a “cap” over the six-lane Centennial Expressway.

That “cap” might be a pedestrian bridge, but also could even be a more ambitious park-like green space, said Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

“Brookings said that will be the biggest transformation your community will ever make,” Williams said. “You will have eliminated a barrier.”

Another stakeholder is the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), which is headquartered in the University of Oklahoma Research Park on the south end of the Oklahoma Health Center campus. The Research Park counts 43 private companies — many of them emerging startups — among its 54 tenants.

A formal Innovation District will tie all the key elements that spark new ideas and innovation, said Michael Carolina, OCAST executive director.

“An Innovation District to me means that research goes on, networking goes on, the opportunity for collaboration and partnerships goes on,” Carolina said. “It’s an integral part of growing the city’s research base, its industrial base and attracting young entrepreneurs.”

Said Scott Meacham, CEO at the not-for-profit i2E, which works with many of the state’s up-and-coming startup businesses, the “power of place” will define the area.

“I think when you look at the reality of what’s happening around us, we’ve got this power of place here,” Meacham said. “How do you recognize that and plan and foster and nurture the growth of that. I think that’s what the Innovation District is about.”

It’s clear that among its proponents, the Innovation District will serve as a hub for Oklahoma City’s innovators and, ultimately, tech-based startups. The only question is what the district will be called.

OMRF’s Prescott already is trying out the name “Nucleus,” after calling for suggestions in a newspaper column he wrote.

“I’m going to call it that until it’s rejected,” Prescott said with a laugh.

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

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Innovators & Entrepreneurs: Seed fund plants success in Oklahoma http://i2e.org/news/innovators-entrepreneurs-seed-fund-plants-success-in-oklahoma/ http://i2e.org/news/innovators-entrepreneurs-seed-fund-plants-success-in-oklahoma/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:24:16 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28596 Innovators & Entrepreneurs: Seed fund plants success in Oklahoma
By Scott Meaham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Black Mesa in the Panhandle is the highest and driest place in Oklahoma.

Black Mesa used to be considered a no-man’s land. Paleontologists went there to look for dinosaur bones. It’s the harshest, coldest place in the state.

And yet, the flora and fauna reported in the Black Mesa are unique — some of these are not found anywhere else in the country. Species have adapted to the harsh climatic conditions. Hikers and visitors to Black Mesa Nature Preserve can look for more than 60 species of butterflies and 50-plus species of birds (and nine types of snakes, if so inclined).

Ten years ago, Oklahoma’s landscape for seed capital was like Black Mesa. We were high and dry. There was no venture capital money here. SeedStep Angels hadn’t been organized yet. Entrepreneurs simply didn’t have access to the investment capital to fund the milestones that move young companies from concept to startup to potential successes in the marketplace.

Then, the state embarked on an experiment — the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund. The fund recently passed the eight-year mark. It’s a seed capital success story.

More than 26 Oklahoma companies have received investments totaling more than $12.7 million. That Seed Fund investment leveraged another $48 million in co-investment at the deal level, and more than $161 million in total leverage — better than 12-to-1 ratio.

Twelve Oklahoma companies receiving $4.5 million in i2E seed funding have had a direct economic impact of $37.3 million and an indirect impact of $11.8 million.

Every Oklahoman is impacted by the rate of new business starts in this state.

Nearly all net new jobs in the U.S. economy over the last 20 years have come from new companies. Those new companies come from the 50 percent of startups that survive five years are more.

And it’s not only access to early stage capital that helps that 50 percent succeed.

Research indicates that failure rates among startups is caused primarily by lack of proper planning and lack of capitalization.

A Washington State study reported that the five-year survival rate for companies that received both capital and business assistance was 90 percent. A study by Harvard Business School indicated that the participation of angel investors (angels mentor and provide hands-on help, as well as funds) increased new firm survival rates by 27 percent.

In Oklahoma, we tackle both challenges — the Seed Fund, other i2E-managed funds, SeedStep Angels, and our new Angel Fund source capital. And that capital is then teamed with i2E’s venture advisory and entrepreneurial development services.

The Seed Capital Fund has invested in companies from the metro areas of Tulsa and Oklahoma City to Stillwater, Shawnee and beyond.

We don’t have a startup in Black Mesa yet, but if some entrepreneur has an idea, we’re certainly open to new frontiers.

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

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Robert E Craine Outstanding Venture Award winner http://i2e.org/gov-cup-news/robert-e-craine-outstanding-venture-award-winner/ http://i2e.org/gov-cup-news/robert-e-craine-outstanding-venture-award-winner/#respond Mon, 11 Apr 2016 21:12:43 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28592 Robert E Craine Outstanding Venture Award winner

Robert E. Craine was a founding board member and chairmen to i2E, Inc. Because of his dedication to the Governor’s Cup and entrepreneurship across the state, the i2E board felt it fitting to recognize an exceptional business concept with the Outstanding Venture Award.

This year’s Robert E Craine Outstanding Venture Award winner is Nutripeutics.

Nutripeutics develops immune boosting feed additives as an antibiotic-alternative to disease control and prevention for livestock animals. The team is led by OBR Paulsen Scholarship award winner Amanda Curtis and team members Chuck Burkardt, Corey Walker and Daniel Ward.

NUTRIPEUTICS
University of Oklahoma
Team Leader: Amanda Curtis
Team Members: Chuck Burkardt, Corey Walker and Daniel Ward
Nutripeutics develops immune boosting feed additives as an antibiotic-alternative to disease control and prevention for livestock animals.

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Dozens of startups are helping build OKC’s national reputation http://i2e.org/news/dozens-of-startups-are-helping-build-okcs-national-reputation/ http://i2e.org/news/dozens-of-startups-are-helping-build-okcs-national-reputation/#respond Mon, 11 Apr 2016 16:57:33 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28586 Dozens of startups are helping build OKC’s national reputation
By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

A fast-growing Oklahoma City startup named WeGoLook has established itself as a pioneering crowd-sourcing business trailblazer, creating a market where there literally wasn’t one before.

WeGoLook is one of dozens of new ventures that have helped build Oklahoma City’s reputation on the national scene as an emerging center for startups.

In the past two years, Oklahoma City has been ranked the nation’s No. 1 city by CNN/Money for a Business-Friendly Environment, the No. 1 Best City to Start a Business by Kiplinger magazine and No. 1 among Cities Worth Moving to if You Want to Launch a Business by Entrepreneur magazine.

WeGoLook got its start back in 2009 when Robin Smith and her co-founders, Mat Smith and Mark Caywood puzzled over the problem of how to verify an item before buying it online. There was no way to ensure that a distant piece of property, vehicle or electronic bought on an online auction was actually as it was listed.

So, the trio decided to invent a way. They called it WeGoLook. The company would use contract workers it calls “Lookers” from across the country to go inspect property or real estate, take photos, write a report and file it online. Think, “Uber of Inspections.”

Buyers would pay a nominal fee and be able to access the report and photos online, as well, armed with information they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

Robin Smith, now the company’s CEO, spells out how it works:

“You’d like to purchase a pinball machine on eBay that is located in Kentucky but you are in California,” Smith said. “You’re not sure if the listing is real or if the item is represented correctly. You would simply purchase a WeGoLook report and our Looker closest to the pinball machine would take multiple current photos, video a working demonstration plus answer any custom questions you may have.”

WeGoLook and the Looker accepting the job split the fees that begins at only $69 for a basic report.

By 2012, WeGoLook had 7,400 Lookers nationwide and two full-time employees at its downtown Oklahoma City location. Fast forward to the end of February of this year as the company boasts more than 24,000 Lookers and 83 full-time employees.

Robin Smith calls it the “sharing economy or gig-economy,” similar to that of the ride-sharing philosophy of Uber and its worldwide fleet of contract drivers. Individual Lookers across the nation, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, are offered jobs in their area via a mobile app and can decide to accept them or ignore them.

WeGoLook offers a broad menu of services, including property, auto heavy equipment and marine inspections, as well as custom tasks such as researching and picking up documents from a jurisdiction or police report, notary, shipping and pickup and delivery.

Enterprise customers now include some of the nation’s top financial services and insurance companies, along with eBay motors and other large auto and equipment auction businesses who utilize WeGoLook for “On-Demand Inspections” while supplementing their own labor force with Lookers.

Locally, i2E and other Oklahoma investors bought into the concept early on. In the fall of 2014, i2E led an investment in WeGoLook of almost $2 million that also included Oklahoma Angel investors.

For Oklahoma City, the emergence of WeGoLook and other startups shows that the city’s renaissance over the past two decades has created an environment where entrepreneurs such as Robin Smith want to grow their businesses, said Scott Meacham, CEO of i2E Inc., a not-for-profit that provides investment capital and business advice to new ventures.

“The thing I think of that is most important about Oklahoma City is it is a community that has shown a willingness to invest in itself and dream big,” Meacham said “And you are not going to accomplish big things if you don’t dream big.”

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

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2016 Governor’s Cup Finalists http://i2e.org/gov-cup-news/2016-governors-cup-finalists/ http://i2e.org/gov-cup-news/2016-governors-cup-finalists/#respond Fri, 08 Apr 2016 00:49:00 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28579 Small Business Division:
Tailored Textbooks, 8:30-9:30
Air-Ez, 9:30-10:30
Fresh Fusion, 10:30-11:30
Back Seat Hero, 11:30-12:30
Pure Golf, 1:00-2:00
Altimeter, 2:00-3:00

For team bios and information, click here.

High Growth Division — Undergraduate:
Project Pediatrics, 8:30-9:30
Wedding Views, 9:30-10:30
Heart Optic, 10:30-11:30
CP Compliance Tech, 11:30-12:30
Somaware, 1:00-2:00
Kegsafe, 2:00-3:00

For team bios and information, click here.

High Growth Division — Graduate:
Phunctional Foods, 8:30-9:30
MITO Material Solutions, 9:30-10:30
Edgeworthy Technologies, 10:30-11:30
WoodPro, 11:30-12:30
VolunteerMe, 1:00-2:00
Nutripeutics, 2:00-3:00
MileagePro, 3:00-4:00

For team bios and information, click here.

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Oklahoma researchers find clues to the origins of lupus http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-researchers-find-clues-to-the-origins-of-lupus/ http://i2e.org/news/oklahoma-researchers-find-clues-to-the-origins-of-lupus/#respond Tue, 05 Apr 2016 14:17:13 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=28573 Read more]]> Oklahoma researchers find clues to the origins of lupus
By Sheri Hawkins
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

In a new research study, scientists from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have helped identify more than 1,000 genetic variants that may play a role in whether a person develops the autoimmune disease lupus.

Going forward, these new findings could play a key role in tailoring treatments for individuals who suffer from or are at an increased risk for lupus, a disease in which the immune system becomes unbalanced and attacks the body’s own tissues. Lupus can result in damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, heart and lungs.

In the new study, scientists analyzed biological samples donated by 1,700 lupus patients.

“The patient contributions — DNA and blood samples — are vitally important to our work,” said Dr. Patrick Gaffney, who holds the J.G. Puterbaugh Chair in Medical Research at OMRF and was one of the two senior authors of the paper.

“Without them, we couldn’t do any of these genetic studies.”

Working with scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the University of Southern California, UCLA and the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, the researchers specifically identified 1,206 DNA variations in 16 regions of the human genome with ties to increased risk of developing lupus.

“This study gave us more precise information about these variants and how they influence the immune response,” said Gaffney, who is a member of OMRF’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program. “It could someday allow us to look at individuals and the kind of variants they carry and make predictions about who’s going to have a higher risk of developing lupus.”

More than 16,000 people are diagnosed with lupus in the U.S. each year.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, the disease affects as many as 1.5 million Americans and 5 million people worldwide.

The results of the study, which was published in the scientific journal eLife, may also help scientists better understand other autoimmune diseases,
conditions in which the body also mistakenly attacks its own tissues. Those diseases include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome and Type 1 diabetes.

Other OMRF scientists who participated in the project included Dr. Judith James, Swapan Nath, Graham Wiley and Jennifer Kelly.

Funding for this research was provided by grant RC2AR058959 from the National Institute of Autoimmune, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Read the story at NewsOK.com.

Shari Hawkins is senior public affairs specialist for OMRF.

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