By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
This week, when we are between the old and the new year, I can’t help reflecting on the accomplishments of the last twelve months and anticipating all of the possibilities of the new year ahead.
If there’s one word that characterizes Oklahoma’s innovation economy for 2014, it’s leverage.
Leverage was the goal 26 years ago when the state Legislature created the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology to foster innovation and new business creation — a vision that is borne out by results. For every dollar invested by OCAST, $22.40 in additional investment, revenue, and job creation has been generated.
We see leverage in action with startups like Roll-2-Roll Technologies, where OSU created economic impact by leveraging its research and discovery capabilities by spinning out and licensing technology to Roll-2-Roll.
Then a tenacious team of college students leveraged their experience from the Governor’s Cup, the Tri-State, and the OSU Riata Business Plan Competition to start the company and complete a rigorous 10 weeks at the Oklahoma Proof of Concept Center. They further leveraged these business competition awards to attract additional investment from the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund, managed by i2E. In turn that investment was leveraged by additional investment from Cowboy Technologies and SeedStep Angels.
Another sign of the leverage that exists in Oklahoma is the national recognition Oklahoma is getting as an exceptional place for entrepreneurs to start companies.
We received two of the top five rankings on Kiplinger’s Top 10 Cities for Starting a Business, with Oklahoma City rated No. 1 and Tulsa rated No. 4. We were the only state with two cities on the list.
CNN Money reported a study that ranked Oklahoma City as one of the top 50 U.S. cities to start a new business. Fast Company placed Oklahoma City in the top 10 American cities for employee satisfaction.
Tulsa has been called out by Forbes as one of the 10 best cities for young entrepreneurs and in the Top 20 of midsized cities to launch a small business.
Looking to 2015 and beyond, so much of our state’s future possibilities have to do with continuing Oklahoma’s growth and reputation for innovation and commercialization.
We have outstanding entrepreneurs and excellent sources of innovation. There is capital funding, infrastructure support, venture services from i2E, and a cadre of professional service providers who are experienced in startups and stand ready to help young companies succeed.
Everybody talks about building an entrepreneurial ecosystem. We have all the components here in Oklahoma.
The pieces are more than just falling into place; we are now seeing a substantial entrepreneurial ecosystem at work.
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.
Did You Know? In 2014, more unique venture capitalists invested in U.S.-based technology companies than in any of the five previous years. SOURCE: Insights