By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
Innovation drives economies.
A walk through history reveals the profound influence of innovation on our world. From the Stone Age, to the Iron Age, to the Industrial Age, to the Information Age, it has been humankind’s innovations that propelled the world through each stage of development.
Innovation is equally important on a micro scale. Firms must constantly innovate to compete in a global marketplace.
Just as Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing across the globe with his assembly line, today’s established companies and entrepreneurs, to stay competitive, must constantly seek to develop new products and processes that will have a disruptive impact on the markets they seek to address.
These innovations lead to economic development that produces positive outcomes for local, state and national economies. These economic benefits (along with the social benefits that often accompany innovation) are the reason that policymakers continuously seek policies and programs that will enhance innovation.
One of Oklahoma’s better-kept secrets is the fact that we have created an Innovation Model that is the gold standard among the 50 states.
Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) was established by the Legislature in 1987 to diversify and grow the state’s economy through innovations in science and technology. In 1997, i2E, a nonprofit corporation, contracted with OCAST to provide commercialization services for innovations in science and technology.
The Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, which also operates under contract with OCAST, provides technical assistance and business advice to Oklahoma’s manufacturers, including assistance on new product development and innovation engineering.
This unique three-way public-private partnership sets the innovation efforts in Oklahoma apart from and above those in other states. We present an A to Z solution for innovation, from ideas in the mind of the researcher or entrepreneur, to the formation of a successful operating company.
OCAST provides the research grants to help create innovation that can be commercialized.
i2E then delivers product, market, or proof of concept validation, business advice and concept through growth stage capital. The Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance helps ramp innovation from the concept or start-up stage to full-scale manufacturing implementation.
This unique Innovation Model is paying great dividends.
OCAST has awarded more than $249 million to 2,461 recipients with a total economic impact of $5.1 billion — a 21:1 return on investment.
i2E has served 600 plus Oklahoma companies and invested $24.2 million, which leveraged an additional $506.9 million in private capital. The 2012 economic impact is $228 million with 2,427 jobs supported.
The $1.4 million OCAST invested in the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance in FY2012 produced $236 million in economic activity from the manufacturers served.
The benefits and effectiveness of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model are clear.
The question now is how to better utilize our model to create even more innovation and economic benefit across our state.
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.