i2E https://i2e.org Innovation to Enterprise Sat, 22 Apr 2017 21:35:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup honors Oklahoma college students https://i2e.org/loves-entrepreneurs-cup-honors-oklahoma-college-students/ https://i2e.org/loves-entrepreneurs-cup-honors-oklahoma-college-students/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:11:10 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29989 Read more]]> Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.

The winners of an annual competition evaluating the innovations and business plans of some of Oklahoma’s brightest graduate and undergraduate college students were made this month at the 2017 Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup competition.

This year, the Love’s Cup attracted a record number of students from learning institutions across the state, including research campuses, two-year colleges and private regional universities.

Small Business Division winner VisuALS from Oklahoma Christian University

Composite Damage Solutions from the University of Tulsa won the High Growth Graduate Division and a $20,000 prize. The team is developed a solution that can detect damage or cracking in a composite material.

VisionaRX from Oklahoma State University won the High Growth Undergraduate Division and a $20,000 prize. The team is working on developing a contact lens that can deliver drugs to the eye in cases where the patient is suffering from diabetic retinopathy.

VisuALS from Oklahoma Christian University won the Small Business Division and a $10,000 prize. The team is developing software that helps amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients who have lost the use of their hands to use their eyes to “type” a message the user then can send to a recipient.

First and second place winners from the High Growth Graduate and Undergraduate divisions will go on to compete in a larger competition later this year.

Winners also were named from interview and pitch competitions, and three students also were honored with $5,000 scholarship awards.

Scott Meacham, the president and CEO of i2E Inc., which manages the competition, has said i2E starts the process to make these cup awards each year by holding a full-day seminar in the fall that’s called “Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur?”

After that, students form teams and figure out an idea for a business plan. They do the research, create the financial projections, and perform market validations to build a product that their target customers would want to buy.

They learn how to talk to investors and how to seek out and take the advice from mentors and industry experts, and figure out how to work as a team and how to delegate. In the service of entrepreneurship, they do things they’ve never done before.

Throughout, Meacham said the students take what they’ve learned in classrooms and labs and apply it to the real world.

“What we’ve seen here … are the first important steps down the entrepreneur’s path for many of these students,” Meacham said at this year’s event. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they emerge as entrepreneurs as they advance their innovations toward the marketplace.”

Read the article at newsok.com


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From i2E’s Scott Meacham: Love’s a natural sponsor of Entrepreneur’s Cup https://i2e.org/loves-a-natural-sponsor-of-entrepreneurs-cup/ https://i2e.org/loves-a-natural-sponsor-of-entrepreneurs-cup/#respond Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:07:48 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29951 Read more]]> By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.

Last week, during the celebratory gala for the 2017 Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup, the same thing happened to me that happens every year. I was completely inspired by the students who participate in Oklahoma’s premier collegiate business plan competition.

Jenny Love Meyer

They are the best of the best — the kind of people that companies in Oklahoma, and for that matter around the world, want to hire. And the kind of people who want to take the leap and start companies of their own.

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores became the signature sponsor of the Love’s Cup after last year’s competition. The importance and impact of their commitment and leadership cannot be overstated.

Love’s was founded by entrepreneurs. Jenny Love Meyer informed the audience at the gala that entrepreneurial culture and mindset not only endures, but permeates the company. The people at Love’s will tell you that entrepreneurial spirit is the force behind their success — that and their dedication to their customers, employees and to the communities where Love’s employees and customers work and live.

It’s only natural that Love’s recognizes the potential in these students — and the students are inspired by Love’s. Love’s is the gold standard of Oklahoma entrepreneurship.

We kick off the Love’s Cup during the fall with a full-day seminar called “Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur.” After that, students form teams and figure out an idea for a business plan. They do the research, create the financial projections, and perform market validation to build a product that their target customers would want to buy.

They learn how to talk to investors and how to seek out and take the advice from mentors and industry experts. They figure out how to work as a team and how to delegate. In the service of entrepreneurship, they do things they’ve never done before.

They take what they’ve learned in classrooms and labs and apply it to the real world. And while they are doing that, they are taking classes, making grades, and many of them are holding down jobs.

In 2017, the Love’s Cup attracted a record number of students with wide representation from across the state. Teams came from the full breadth of Oklahoma’s learning institutions, from research campuses to two-year colleges and private regional universities.

For many of these students, this is their first encounter with Oklahoma’s business community. For the Love’s Cup teams, there’s nothing more important than the people skills they build during this competition and the connections they develop — to team members, to advisers, and even to potential future investors.

More than 35 plans have gone on to become i2E clients. Other participants enter established businesses. Either way, it’s Oklahoma’s gain.

I don’t know about you, but it is nice to be inspired by the next generation of leaders. With the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup, that’s a guarantee. When it comes to success stories, the Love’s Cup sets the bar.

It’s inspiration by the gallon.

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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A plan for change: Brookings study suggests road map to creating OKC Innovation District https://i2e.org/a-plan-for-change-brookings-study-suggests-road-map-to-creating-okc-innovation-district/ https://i2e.org/a-plan-for-change-brookings-study-suggests-road-map-to-creating-okc-innovation-district/#respond Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:51:24 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29948 Read more]]> By Steve Lackmeyer
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.

A new study concludes Oklahoma City’s cluster of research, medical and educational institutions and companies east of downtown provides a significant opportunity for economic growth, but significant changes must begin to avoid loss of momentum.

The 18-month study by the Brookings Institute and the Project for Public Spaces is based on a series of task force meetings and interviews with dozens of civic, corporate and research leaders focused on how to transform an area that extends from Lottie to Robinson Avenues and from N 4 to N 13 streets.

The Oklahoma Health Center campus, which would be the heart of the Innovation District (Oklahoman photo)

The study, being released Tuesday, makes four recommendations for turning the area into an economic powerhouse:

  •  Establish an Oklahoma Center for Energy and Health Collaboration that serves as the umbrella for innovation and applied research. The center should house a translational research and commercialization office for crosscutting industry research applications.
  • Implement a technology-based economic development and entrepreneurship effort within the innovation district tasked with overseeing strategic business development, technology business attraction, marketing, and regional cluster development between entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises, and large firms.
  • Create a denser, more active, and better-connected mixed-use urban environment in and around the innovation district. Leaders should undertake intentional land use and real estate developments, implement new place-making efforts, strengthen connections between the Oklahoma Health Center and Automobile Alley, improve bike and pedestrian routes within the Health Center, and make the innovation district more porous and connected to residential neighborhoods.
  • Form a standing committee on diversity and inclusion charged with overseeing the design of strategies aimed at forging better economic, social, and physical connections between the innovation district and the underserved communities surrounding it. The committee should focus on issues including education, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and place-making and neighborhood development.

Strengths and weaknesses

The 68-page study details strengths and weaknesses in the area and does not shy from concluding that the majority of the area east of Interstate 235 is lacking diversity, vibrancy and the excitement needed to make it competitive in a rapidly changing market for technology and research.

On the plus side, the majority of the area historically known as the Oklahoma Health Center is home to a variety of anchors that include the OU Medical Center, the University Research Park, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Dean A. McGee Eye Institute, the Oklahoma Blood Institute and the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics.

Employment in the area grew 27 percent to more than 18,000 people, and several of the hospitals and research institutions have undergone multimillion-dollar makeovers and expansions. The study also notes the area has an advantage of adjoining Bricktown, Deep Deuce, Automobile Alley and the Central Business District.

The most recent addition, the GE Global Oil & Gas Technology Center, was key in attracting the Brookings Institute and the Project for Public Spaces to choose Oklahoma City as one of two areas for creating a model on how to craft together an innovation district.

Bruce Katz, vice president of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, calls Oklahoma City’s mix of energy and health care a unique opportunity not found elsewhere.

“There is a real base to grow on and a unique proposition because GE had come to town,” Katz said. “What we like to focus on at Brookings are those places that have the ability to invent and deploy next-generation technologies or be at the convergence of sectors of technologies. Here you have energy and health care — there are not a lot of other cities in the country or around the world where you can see those two sectors converging.”

Lacking diversity

The area’s liabilities listed in the report are not unlike those found in other research and technology clusters that got their start in the mid-20th century.

The study notes the district has experienced significant economic growth over the past decade, yet it is disconnected from surrounding neighborhoods. The area is insular in nature with car-oriented development that discourages walkability and any visible vibrancy.

The study also notes stakeholders in the district invested in events, vast landscaped lawns and other improvements, but the area lacks the diversity and mix of uses that are critical to attracting innovative firms and talent.

The study attempts to include Automobile Alley, with its mix of restaurants, shops, creative firms and housing, as an asset within the proposed district.

Meg Walker, senior vice president of the Project for Public Spaces, acknowledged the inclusion is not designed to suggest Automobile Alley’s inclusion in the district does not diminish the need to create a similar mix in the core of the innovation district east of Interstate 235.

She and Katz, however, do see Automobile Alley (Broadway between NW 4 and NW 13) as an asset that can be grown east to join up with the research area that is divided from Broadway by I-235, the BNSF Railway viaduct and Lincoln Boulevard.

Collaboration is key, they say, and must happen quickly.

In an interview Monday, the pair applauded GE and other key institutions for hosting a conference on imaging recently that brought in other regional players including Tinker Air Force Base, Boeing, Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy.

They are urging other established institutions to consider establishing a presence in the area, including Oklahoma State University’s robotics program and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Creating connections

Jennifer Vey, a Brookings fellow who co-authored the report, suggests a local CareerTech work with the area’s employers in creating a “job pipeline” for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods that are economically challenged.

“Fifty-five percent of the jobs do not require a four-year degree,” Vey said. “That opens up an opportunity to change the status quo and build a better relationship for job skill development with the existing institutions that target the surrounding community. Right now that connection doesn’t exist.”

Walker said interviews with residents from the surrounding neighborhoods indicate they are eager to connect with the innovation district not just for jobs but for community building, education and festivities.

Walker said programming is also a key to creating vibrancy in the area. She suggested the area’s stakeholders look at contracting with Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.

“Clearly, they know what they’re doing,” Walker said. “They’re talking to each other. They are creating partnerships. In terms of programming, in terms of creating walkable streets, in terms of recruiting the right businesses, even two years ago, when I was first here, it was clear they knew what they were doing.”

The report suggests long-term goals of creating a community innovation center similar to Kendall Square at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where young entrepreneurs and researchers benefit from serendipitous encounters in coffee shops and in the lobby of the district’s Hyatt Hotel.

Such investments and changes, Katz said, are in the best interests of the area’s stakeholders and can help them realize a better return on investment at a time when state and federal research funding is at risk.

For now, the most immediate step, Katz concludes, is the need to hire one person devoted to implementing the report’s recommendations and guiding what he admits is a significant change for the district.

“It’s not about creating a whole new entity,” Katz said. “You want to start with the assets that already exist. But you need one person who wakes up in the morning and says ‘My job is to basically grow and nurture the innovation ecosystem.’ And they need to work with a lot of other organizations to make sure things get done.”

Read the article at newsok.com

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Failing fast is key to discovering startup success, Meacham says https://i2e.org/failing-fast-is-key-to-discovering-startup-success-meacham-says/ https://i2e.org/failing-fast-is-key-to-discovering-startup-success-meacham-says/#respond Mon, 17 Apr 2017 19:40:23 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29946 Read more]]> By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.

There is a saying in the startup world that if you want to be successful, you have to learn to fail fast.

It appears to be an oxymoron, but there really is substance to the expression, said Scott Meacham, president and CEO of i2E Inc., an Oklahoma City-based not-for-profit that provides business advisory services and investment for many of the state’s new tech-based ventures.

“If something is not going to work, before you put in a lot of time, effort and money into it, you need to figure that out,” Meacham said. “If you are on the wrong path, you need to know that pretty quickly so you can get redirected.”

That’s why i2E created the Venture Assessment Program (VAP) as a way for entrepreneurs to find out quickly if their product has an actual market willing to buy it. The VAP is a three-week course in which new business owners are forced to reach out to potential customers and then assess the reaction.

Which leads into another word embraced by the startup world: pivot.

Entrepreneurs “pivot” all the time when they discover one market may not be ready for their product, but another is. Or their product needs to be retooled to match the needs of their customers.

When they pivot, they change their product or aim for a different market.

That’s what happened at both Selexys Pharmaceuticals and WeGoLook, two Oklahoma startups that recently sold for millions of dollars.

Selexys developed a new therapeutic to treat sickle cell disease and sold for $665 million last November to industry giant Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

WeGoLook, which provides on-demand field services to the financial service, insurance and consumer markets, sold an 85 percent stake in company in early December to the insurance claims management provider, Crawford & Co., for $36.5 million.

“In the Selexys Pharmaceuticals deal, the original indication of the molecule was to deal with inflammation around transplants,” Meacham said. “What we saw go to market was actually a treatment for sickle cell disorder. That was a product pivot.”

By contrast, WeGoLook changed its primary market focus.

“When WeGoLook started they were going to be a tool basically for people buying things on eBay,” Meacham said. “But, as we saw, it pivoted to the B2B space into a much broader opportunity.”

For entrepreneurs who enroll in i2E’s Venture Assessment Program, the goal is to quickly discover if the product fits the market.

“Many, many times as a result of that feedback from their target market, entrepreneurs decide they are going down the wrong path,” Meacham said. “The whole program is designed to give them that.”

That means that entrepreneurs come away from the class with a green light on their concept, a suggestion that a pivot is in order or a recommendation to shut the whole thing down.

And that is failing fast.

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i2E, local investment work hand in hand https://i2e.org/i2e-local-investment-work-hand-in-hand/ https://i2e.org/i2e-local-investment-work-hand-in-hand/#respond Mon, 17 Apr 2017 17:12:10 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29941 Read more]]> By Jack Money
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.

A startup technology or medical company based in Oklahoma needed real luck in finding the capital it needed to propel it into the big leagues before 1998.

But then, i2E was created. And, during the following 19 years, state, federal and private money the organization has helped secure to help fund startup companies in the state has proven to be a game changer, both for those firms and for the agency

Rod Whitson

officials and investors who work with them.

“There definitely has been a turn,” said Rod Whitson, a chairman at Vistage Worldwide, which helps Oklahoma City’s top CEOs and business owners grow their businesses with the help of peer advisory groups.

Whitson also invests in companies that have worked with i2E to prove their business concepts and management structures through the i2E’s SeedStep Angels program.

He’s made investments in nearly a dozen health sciences companies as part of that program during the past eight years.

Whitson also said there are dozens of other companies working with i2E that are in the technology and life sciences fields that also are attractive to investors.

Before 2009, Whitson recalls, researchers and companies were developing sound health sciences products and good business concepts in Oklahoma City. But they were having a hard time making it because they had to leave the region to find the capital they needed for their businesses to succeed.

Visionary move

i2E was formed in 1998 as a public/private partnership with the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology to work with entrepreneurs to grow the state’s small business economy.

Within a year, it realized entrepreneurs needed access to capital. Oklahoma’s Legislature responded by creating the Technology Business Finance Program, a proof-of-concept fund that addressed small companies’ early capital needs.

In 2007, it added to those dollars when the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority and the Oklahoma Capital Investment Board created a $7 million Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund.

In 2009, i2E also created its SeedStep Angels program so that startups could also compete for private equity investments for up to as much as $500,000, and in 2011, the federal government added about $13 million more to the capital i2E could access to help startups, too.

The SeedStep Angels program is what both investors and i2E really are excited about.

Investors are excited because they can use the program to invest in firms that, through working with i2E, are likely to succeed because they already have proved their concepts and management.

Startups who work with i2E, meanwhile, don’t need to go to either the East or West Coasts or Chicago to find capital to propel their companies into the next level.

Another benefit, i2E’s President and CEO Scott Meacham said, is that the program literally is growing Oklahoma’s economy.

Before 2009, “if you weren’t on the East or West coasts, or maybe Chicago, there wasn’t a lot of deals,” he said, explaining that capital typically flows to where the deals are.

So, Oklahoma and various other states created agencies like i2E to bring the two together.

Through i2E, he continued, investors no longer have to go hunting for what might be risky opportunities.

Because of the work i2E does with its entrepreneurs, today’s startup firms are turning out consistently high quality health sciences and technology products that investors are comfortable helping to support through the SeedStep Angels program.

Simply put, good ideas that potentially can make money keeps capital interested, Meacham said.

“Now, we have a much more consistent, high quality deal flow than we have ever had, and the capital to make those deals happen. They feed off each other.”

Recent, future successes

In November, Selexys, which developed a drug that treats sickle cell disease patients for pain, was able to exit from its SeedStep Angels funding after global drugmaker Novartis paid about $650 million for the firm.

The angels, a term used for individual investors in early stage companies, were expected to get payoffs ranging from about five to 20 times what they risked.

In addition to the local individuals who backed Selexys, the firm also had secured investments from the University of Oklahoma and the Presbyterian Health Foundation.

And then in December, Crawford & Co. announced it would acquire an 85 percent membership interest in Oklahoma City-based WeGoLook for $36.125 million.

Like Selexys, WeGoLook received support from i2E and its SeedStep Angels investors.

These deals, both Meacham and Whitson said, were high-quality opportunities because their products were sound and the companies and the investment opportunities were structured properly.

Whitson added there are other companies following the same trajectories, both in the health services and technology fields.

Some of the tech companies he mentioned include:

  • Tailwind, which offers Pinterest and Instagram marketing tools for both bloggers and businesses, small and large.
  • Exaptive Inc., which offers clients dataflow programming, adaptable data models and agnostic components.
  • Monscierge Inc., which developed software that enables hotels to connect with guests in an easy, affordable and scalable way.

Whitson said he’s invested in about 15 firms developing life sciences products, including 10 in Oklahoma.

“All 10 of those are of the quality you would find either on the East or West coasts,” he said. “I just think there is more of an appetite for those types of investments, just because the quality of the deals are better and the experience of the entrepreneurs is better.”

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Exclusive Love’s Travel Stops blog and video interview with Love’s Cup winners https://i2e.org/exclusive-loves-travel-stops-blog-and-video-interview-with-loves-cup-winners/ https://i2e.org/exclusive-loves-travel-stops-blog-and-video-interview-with-loves-cup-winners/#respond Sat, 15 Apr 2017 00:50:19 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29937 Read more]]> Exclusive blog and video from Love’s Travel Stops: “Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup winners headed to Vegas, Baby!”  Read it here!

Love’s Cup interview with VisionaRX from Oklahoma State University

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Shared knowledge, cooperation can lead to breakthroughs https://i2e.org/shared-knowledge-cooperation-can-lead-to-breakthroughs/ https://i2e.org/shared-knowledge-cooperation-can-lead-to-breakthroughs/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 13:13:34 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29928 Read more]]> By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.

NanoMed Targeting Systems, an early stage company founded in Oklahoma, is developing a state-of-the-art magnetically targeted drug delivery system utilizing nanotechnology to dramatically change the lives of millions of people worldwide suffering from atrial fibrillation.

As happens so often in the world of startups, there’s a bit of serendipity in how this startup came about.

Back in 2007, a group of medical companies from Israel visited the U.S. on an information exchange. Alex Harel, a retired Israeli Air Force lieutenant colonel, serial entrepreneur, and now NanoMed CEO, was in the group. He came to talk nanotechnology with scientists at the University of Indiana, but since the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center was also included in the trip, he came here as well.

On the visit, Harel met Kenneth Dormer, Ph.D., an OU Health Sciences Center scientist and researcher working in nanoparticles and nanotechnology. They talked about their work. One thing led to another, and NanoMed was formed utilizing proprietary magnetic nanotechnology licensed from the Health Sciences Center.

NanoMed’s first application is the treatment of atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation is found in 5 percent of people over 65 and 10 percent of those over 80. It’s a progressive disease which is typically initially treated with blood thinners and beta blockers, and then, as the disease develops, with a highly invasion procedure known as RF ablation.

NanoMed is developing an alternative procedure in which magnetic nanoparticles carrying a therapeutic payload are injected into the blood stream and directed magnetically to the targeted area in the body. NanoMed has successfully completed much of the preclinical work and is advancing toward Phase I clinical trials.

“When we started, we were uncertain about this wild idea of inserting a payload with nanomagnetic technology,” Harel said. “Now that it’s working, we believe that it can do the job we faster, safer, and with a less expensive procedure.”

Here’s what we really like about this deal.

NanoMed is building a cross-disciplinary solution that is a convergence of leading-edge technologies — including OU’s world class capabilities in heart rhythm — that has the potential to be life-changing for the millions of people suffering from the effects of atrial fibrillation.

Experts from across the world are collaborating to build a solution that patients and health care professionals really need. One only has to look to NanoMed’s advisory board to appreciate the scientific expertise that’s propelling this company.

“I’m very much looking forward to seeing the first patient with successful treatment and bringing something good to humanity,” Harel said.

This is what breakthroughs in biotech require — a passion for helping patients, shared intelligence, and a willingness to cooperate across functions, states, and even countries. And a little serendipity.

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. Email Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

Read the article at newsok.com




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Venture assessment program expands https://i2e.org/venture-assessment-program-expands/ https://i2e.org/venture-assessment-program-expands/#respond Fri, 07 Apr 2017 17:35:02 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29924 Read more]]> Courtesy of The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – A venture assessment program operated by i2E Inc. and seven state partners is expanding to rural Oklahoma and Native American entrepreneurs with the assistance of a $200,000 matching federal grant from the Economic Development Administration.

State partners include the Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oklahoma Business Roundtable and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology. Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma Inc. is also a supporting partner.

Known as GrowOK, the expanded program will start this spring with a curriculum designed for rural communities and Native American entrepreneurs.

The GrowOK curriculum will challenge rural and Native American entrepreneurs to identify their customers and determine whether their concept solves a true market need, said Scott Meacham, i2E’s president and CEO.

“Thanks to the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) and our great partners here in Oklahoma, this program will allow i2E to take our services to the state’s Native American and rural entrepreneurs in areas where they live and work,” Meacham said. “Our mission with GrowOK will be to help grow successful ventures in rural communities across the state.”

The Venture Assessment Program has been provided as an intensive three-week course at i2E’s Tulsa and Oklahoma City offices since 2015.

The first GrowOK class is expected to start in Ada in May.

Click here to read the story at the Journal Record website (subscription required)



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OMRF’s BioVenture Forum showcases Oklahoma scientific achievements https://i2e.org/omrfs-bioventure-forum-showcases-oklahoma-scientific-achievements/ https://i2e.org/omrfs-bioventure-forum-showcases-oklahoma-scientific-achievements/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 13:12:01 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29917 Read more]]> By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.

Seated next to each other on a stage Tuesday morning at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation were the alpha and omega of Oklahoma City’s Selexys Pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Rodger P. McEver and Russell Rother shared the stage as part of a panel discussion on “Relationship Dynamics in Startups: Early Stage to Exit” at the OMRF BioVenture Forum 2017. About 100 people attended the forum, including 35 venture capitalists from out of state.

Russell Rother, Ph.D., left, and Rodger McEver, M.D., share the stage at the OMRF BioVenture Forum. (Oklahoman photo)

Others on the panel, moderated by i2E Inc. CEO Scott Meacham, included Dr. Judith A. James, chair of OMRF’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program, and Mohan Purushothaman, president of Progentec Diagnostics.

“We’re focusing on the handoff that has to occur in any successful launch of a new technology where you go from a researcher to a business person who is going to take the deal forward,” Meacham said. “That’s a vital process and often time difficult process.”

McEver and Rother represented the beginning and successful exit from Selexys, which was acquired in late 2016 by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $665 million, the largest life sciences deal in Oklahoma history.

McEver, now OMRF’s vice president of research, discovered the protein P-selectin upon which Selexys was founded. The company developed a therapeutic to relieve pain crisis for millions of people worldwide who suffer from sickle cell disease.

McEver was a co-founder of Selexys and eventually handed the company off to a team that included Rother, Scott Rollins and Rick Alvarez. McEver served on the Selexys board of directors.

Rother, now executive vice president and chief operating officer of Oklahoma City’s Tetherex Pharmaceuticals, held the same position with Selexys. He was instrumental in the scientific, clinical and regulatory operations that led to the successful Phase 2 trial and subsequent acquisition by industry giant Novartis.

“Early on, the insight and expertise of a scientist like Rod is critical for a startup company,” Rother said. “I think that’s an important component because the early stages of the company and early funding are driven by the scientist.”

Progentec Diagnostics is at a much earlier stage of development as it works to commercialize the technology of OMRF’s James. She created algorithms for predicting lupus disease flares, disease activity and onset.

James connected with Progentec after seeking business assistance from Manu Nair, OMRF’s vice president of Technology Ventures in commercializing her technology.

“We decided we needed to bring in expertise that could really help us take something that we saw that could be really important to our patients,” she said. “Since we were early, we needed a partner and that’s how we found Progentec.”

Nair organized the BioVenture Forum to showcase Oklahoma scientific achievements like those of McEver and James to an audience of potential investors. The event featured four panel discussions, a luncheon keynote by Dr. Joseph Miletich with Merck & Co., and an evening reception at the Pavilion at the Governor’s Mansion.

“When people think of Oklahoma, they think of oil and gas,” Nair said. “We want them to see a biotech mecca here, as well.”

Read the story at newsok.com






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i2E, state partners target rural, Native American entrepreneurs with innovative GrowOK venture assessment program https://i2e.org/i2e-state-partners-target-rural-native-american-entrepreneurs-with-innovative-growok-venture-assessment-program/ https://i2e.org/i2e-state-partners-target-rural-native-american-entrepreneurs-with-innovative-growok-venture-assessment-program/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 02:26:26 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29912 Read more]]>  

Oklahoma not-for-profit, seven state partners provide 3-week business assessment class to help small businesses validate concepts, expand market, capture new revenues

 Contact: Sarah Seagraves,
Senior VP for Marketing
(405) 813-2403
or email sseagraves@i2E.org

OKLAHOMA CITY – i2E, Inc., and seven state partners are taking a popular venture assessment program to rural Oklahoma and Native American entrepreneurs with the assistance of a $200,000 matching federal grant.

State partners include the Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oklahoma Business Roundtable and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST). Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc., is also a supporting partner. The EDA awarded the grant in November 2016.

Known as GrowOK, the program will debut this spring with a curriculum designed especially for rural communities and Native American entrepreneurs.

Gov. Mary Fallin hailed the initiative as an innovative step in diversifying the state’s economy in rural areas as well as its urban centers.

“I’m so pleased that i2E is taking this creative program to Oklahoma’s rural and Native American population,” Fallin said. “It will offer rural entrepreneurs access to services that will help them find new markets, new customers for products developed in their communities.”

The GrowOK curriculum will challenge rural and Native American entrepreneurs to identify their customers and determine whether their concept solves a true market need, said Scott Meacham, i2E’s President and CEO.

i2E provides business advisory services and investment capital to high-growth startups across Oklahoma.

“Thanks to the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) and our great partners here in Oklahoma, this program will allow i2E to take our services to the state’s Native American and rural entrepreneurs in areas where they live and work,” Meacham said. “Our mission with GrowOK will be to help grow successful ventures in rural communities across the state.”

i2E has provided its Venture Assessment Program as an intensive three-week course at its Tulsa and Oklahoma City offices since 2015, helping scores of entrepreneurs validate their business concepts and reach out to potential first customers.

The first GrowOK class is expected to launch in Ada in May.

For i2E’s tribal partners, the GrowOK program provides another tool for their small business development organization to bring in outside expertise and as a business growth opportunity for their members.

i2E was one of 35 not-for-profits, institutions of higher education and entrepreneur-focused organizations from 19 states across the nation that were awarded a total of $15 million to create and expand initiatives to support entrepreneurship.

The $199,749 i2E was awarded from among a pool of more than 215 applicants nationwide as part of the EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies Program (RIS).

About i2E, Inc.: With offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK, i2E’s nationally recognized services include business expertise and funding for Oklahoma’s emerging small businesses. i2E has more than $40 million of investment capital under management. www.i2E.org


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Stephen Prescott, M.D.: This is what an innovation district looks like https://i2e.org/stephen-prescott-m-d-this-is-what-an-innovation-district-looks-like/ https://i2e.org/stephen-prescott-m-d-this-is-what-an-innovation-district-looks-like/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 01:00:40 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29909 Read more]]> By Stephen Prescott, M.D.
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.

Imaging. It’s the ability to create a visual representation of something we cannot simply view with the naked eye.

In biomedical research, imaging technologies focus on things that are really, really tiny. For example, to understand how the body’s circulatory system functions, cardiovascular biologists study red blood cells, which are about seven microns long. That’s one-millionth of a meter. Or, to think another way, you’d have to lay about 200 blood cells end to end to equal the length of your average flea.

Conversely, in the energy sector, geophysicists use imaging technologies to study things that are really, really large. Take, for example, the Marcellus Shale. That’s a geologic formation that lies beneath roughly 90,000 square miles of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, and scientists are trying to figure out how best to extract the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas trapped in the shale.

You might not think these scientists’ disparate quests would have much in common. But it turns out many of the imaging devices geophysicists use are based on ultrasound technologies developed in medicine.

OKC Innovates

This is one of the many intriguing facts I learned Tuesday, when I joined almost 100 other Oklahoma City scientists and business people who gathered at the first OKC Innovates symposium. GE Global Research Oil and Gas Technology Center hosted the event at its beautiful new facility, which looks toward downtown from NE 10.

Not coincidentally, the GE Research Center sits smack-dab in the middle of Oklahoma City’s burgeoning innovation district, which spans the Oklahoma Health Center and Automobile Alley. And the symposium was the first of a series of events that aims to make the residents of the district — and the many exciting ideas that lurk within their heads — crash into one another.

Energy, aerospace and biomedicine all play an important role in our city and state’s economy. Traditionally, though, there’s been little overlap among these sectors; we’ve all lived within our own silos.

The coexistence of major players in all three fields, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and others realized, represented a potentially rich but unexploited resource. So why not find some common themes and try to get us all to work together in some way we haven’t yet imagined?

Before a packed room, nine different scientists from Devon Energy, Baker Hughes, the FAA, Tinker Air Force Base, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the University of Oklahoma spent four hours explaining how they utilize imaging technologies to do everything from studying the metastasis of tumor cells to analyzing cracks in airplane wings to making drilling decisions. They talked about grand challenges in their respective fields and explored ways they might tap one another’s talents and technologies to answer their own questions — or new ones.

Over the course of the discussions, challenges common to all three industries emerged. Everyone was searching for technology that was more sensitive and precise. We all struggle with how to manage mushrooming amounts of data. And no one, it seems, has the capability to analyze and understand all the data that’s being generated.

Cocktails and brainstorming

By the end of the afternoon — which culminated in a cocktail hour, perhaps the most fertile ground for creative interaction that exists — the enthusiasm for future events was palpable. Thought leaders from across sectors were not only in the same room, they were brainstorming about ideas for future collaborations. Synergies that only hours before hadn’t existed were beginning to take shape.

Going forward, we’ll continue this OKC Innovates series. We’re looking at other common themes that reach across the energy, aerospace and biomedical research sectors, topics like sensor technology, big data and analytics. As the topics branch out, we’re hoping that the venues will too. In addition to more formal symposia, we’ll also try shorter, less formal “after hours” events.

In mid-April, a team from the Brookings Institution will come to Oklahoma City to deliver the results of a study it’s been conducting for almost two years. That report, we hope, will help us sketch out a blueprint for how best to transform our city’s intellectual capital into a new, idea-driven business district.

Where all this will take us is still anybody’s guess. But that’s really the point. When you put a lot of smart people with great ideas in a room together, that’s the best recipe for serendipity.

A physician and medical researcher, Stephen Prescott is president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and can be reached at omrf-president@omrf.org.

Read the story at news.ok.com

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Oklahoma’s state-sponsored venture capital funds key to developing local firms https://i2e.org/oklahomas-state-sponsored-venture-capital-funds-key-to-developing-local-firms/ https://i2e.org/oklahomas-state-sponsored-venture-capital-funds-key-to-developing-local-firms/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2017 16:54:05 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29900 Read more]]> Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

There’s always a lot of discussion around pros and cons of state-sponsored venture capital funds. A recent Kauffman Foundation white paper even postulates that states should avoid state VC funds.

The suggestion is that state-sponsored funds don’t match private VC funds when it comes to return on investment, aren’t up to the challenge of selecting and supporting winning new companies, and therefore, don’t have much of an impact on a state’s entrepreneurial growth.

That kind of wrongheaded thinking bothers me a lot.

We don’t compete with VC funds in states like Oklahoma. We are the VC Fund. If the state gets any return on its investment, that is a win because of the job creation and investment stimulated in new companies. When compared to traditional state economic development in the form of tax credits or other direct subsidies, state-sponsored VC funds win hands down because, unlike the other types of state-sponsored incentives, these funds offer the state the opportunity to earn its money back plus some.

Our experience in Oklahoma hasn’t been anything like Kauffman’s view of the VC world; there are plenty of good reasons to have a state-sponsored VC funds in Oklahoma (and in other states that lack numbers or depth of private VC funds).

First, metrics prove that we have the expertise and rigorous process that leads to selecting and supporting amazing young companies that succeed in big ways — Selexys or WeGoLook anyone?

Second, states don’t create venture funds to make blockbuster financial returns. They do it because no one else is providing early stage capital. Without the legacy of a California or Boston, there are no legions of deep-pocketed venture capitalists or cadres of cashed-out entrepreneurs standing the ready, eager to write checks.

Instead, Oklahoma has had to figure out how to prime our own pump.

For nearly two decades, i2E, as a strategic partner with the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology, has been the primary source of concept, seed stage, startup, and early growth capital for Oklahoma’s emerging small businesses — from the Technology Business Finance Program (TBFP) Fund, which started in 1999, to the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund, which has invested more than $15 million since 2007, and the Accelerate Oklahoma Fund, which has invested more than $12.5 million since 2012.

Instead of giveaways, Oklahoma’s Seed Capital Fund requires co-investment from private sources leveraging $45 for every dollar invested by the state.

Third, the impact of these funds on Oklahoma’s entrepreneurial growth is profound. We’ve provided business expertise and funding to more than 675 of Oklahoma’s emerging small businesses. From the initial TBFP Fund, i2E has grown into a $50 million+ diverse VC investor with a continuum of capital under management that serves Oklahoma companies in all phases of the business life cycle.

In Oklahoma, we have a model that works. State-sponsored venture funds are the cornerstone; our venture development process is the engine. New products, new jobs, and new wealth are the result.

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.

Read the article at newsok.com 




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Love’s Cup semifinalists, finalists revealed https://i2e.org/29891-2/ https://i2e.org/29891-2/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:05:40 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29891 Read more]]> Look who’s coming to the Love’s Cup oral presentations April 6 & 7. Congratulations to all and good luck at the oral competition!

High Growth Graduate finalists

Composite Damage Solutions, University of Tulsa

HEPA-Cera, Oklahoma State University

CultiVast, University of Tulsa

ObturaTech, University of Oklahoma

Omnibus V2G Technologies, Oklahoma City University

Turning Systems, LLC, University of Central Oklahoma


High Growth Undergraduate semifinalists

60Days Studios, University of Oklahoma         

Aquatic Clear, University of Oklahoma        

BLOOM, University of Oklahoma          

Enrich, University of Oklahoma        

My Hunt, University of Oklahoma

Pascal, University of Tulsa        

Toucan, University of Central Oklahoma  

VisionaRX, Oklahoma State University


Small Business Division semifinalists

Bitter Student Brews, University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma

DroneScape Corporation, Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Mad Batter, St. Gregory’s University

Redwood CO, Oral Roberts University

RoamTec, Oklahoma State University — Oklahoma City

StoPanic, East Central University

The Social Niche, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M

VisuALS, Oklahoma Christian University


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Love’s Cup Interview winners named https://i2e.org/loves-cup-interview-winners-named/ https://i2e.org/loves-cup-interview-winners-named/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:50:32 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29881 Read more]]>

BREAKING NEWS from the Love’s Cup Entrepreneur’s competition: Here are your Interview winners by industry category.  Congratulations to all!

  • OCAST Information Technology/Communications winner is 3DMe from the University of Oklahoma

  • Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Healthcare winner is Redcedar Products, Oklahoma State University

  • i2E, Inc., Student Generated Technology Design winner is 60Days Studios, University of Oklahoma

  • OG&E Positive Energy and Environmental winner is Omnibus V2G Technologies from Oklahoma City University

  • Oklahoma Business Roundtable Manufacturing, Material Sciences and Transportation winner is Reactiv from the University of Oklahoma
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Q&A with Jenny Love Meyer: Love’s takes over sponsorship of Governor’s Cup competition https://i2e.org/qa-with-jenny-love-meyer-loves-takes-over-sponsorship-of-governors-cup-competition/ https://i2e.org/qa-with-jenny-love-meyer-loves-takes-over-sponsorship-of-governors-cup-competition/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:14:36 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29872 Read more]]> Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Jenny Love Meyer is vice president of communications at Love’s Travel Stops.

Jenny Love Meyer

Q: What prompted Love’s Travel Stops to step up as the new sponsor of Oklahoma’s largest collegiate business plan competition?

A: Innovation is one of Love’s core values and is key to how we operate. It’s also how my Dad started the company and grew it into what it is today. Combine that with our passion for and dedication to education, and this opportunity proved to be very attractive to us. We’re grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup.

Q: How do Love’s entrepreneurial roots, which go back to its founding by Tom Love, influence how the company operates in 2017?

A: Our culture is centered on a commitment to our customers. By drawing on this commitment, we are able to equip our leaders with the freedom to manage their business units in a way that meets our vision to fulfill our promise to our customers. By listening to them, we have been able to continue our success.

Q: What would you hope the Love’s Cup experience provides student competitors in addition to cash awards?

A: We hope students get a better understanding of the practical application of business, which is necessary to turn ambitious vision into reality. Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores was built on an idea but has grown into the diversified family of companies it is today through hard work, dedication to our customers and a lot of practical application of business concepts.

Q: What qualities make a successful entrepreneur?

A: Passion and discipline are at the heart of entrepreneurship. It’s where vision meets execution. A strong work ethic and being a self-starter are paramount but so is an ability to work well with a wide variety of people from various backgrounds and business disciplines. Entrepreneurs ultimately need teams to help execute on vision.


Read the post at newsok.com

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Oklahoma’s model for developing venture capital is working https://i2e.org/oklahomas-model-for-developing-venture-capital-is-working/ https://i2e.org/oklahomas-model-for-developing-venture-capital-is-working/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 01:56:13 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29870 Read more]]> Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

Selexys was one of the top five largest mergers and acquisitions of U.S.-based companies in the fourth quarter of 2016. That deal and the sale of WeGoLook are proof positive that Oklahoma’s strategy of public/private venture capital funds works.

When the recent fourth-quarter and full-year MoneyTree Report came out, I got a little hot under the collar. MoneyTree reports trends in financing to U.S. venture capital-backed companies.

The report does not include in its analysis funds that had public money in them, so none of the i2E/OCAST deals counted in this report — and that doesn’t reflect the power and the impact of what’s really going on in this state when it comes to capital invested in startups and growth stage companies.

In fiscal year 2016, through the Technology Business Finance Program, Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund, and Accelerate Oklahoma! Fund, i2E committed more than $4.5 million in investment funding to 20 companies. Through the statewide SeedStep Angel group of 54 individual investors that i2E manages, an additional $2.2 million was invested in 12 different companies.

i2E’s portfolio of Oklahoma-based companies has attracted $590,762,531 in private investment from banks, venture capital funds, angel investors, and other strategic investors.

And now I’m going to get on my soap box.

Oklahoma was born out of an entrepreneurial spirit. (They don’t call us Sooners and wildcatters for nothing). Taking chances and going after what we want is in the DNA of our state.

But when it comes to advanced technology startups — spinning out technology, supporting entrepreneurs, and investing in IT, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing, the environment here isn’t like California or Massachusetts. Or New York, Illinois, or Washington, or even Colorado.

And it isn’t going to be. Oklahoma is Oklahoma.

Historically there hasn’t been much seed stage venture capital here — in fact, for decades there wasn’t any. As a state, we had to build our own. And that’s what we did.

Thanks to the enduring vision at the foundation of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, we have created the Oklahoma version of startup capital. Yes, it includes state funding. Since we don’t have mega-million-dollar venture capital funds here, based by legions of cashed-out entrepreneurs, we have to find another way.

What we do have is a determined focus to invest state resources (and we ought to invest more) to supply a continuum of critical capital to Oklahoma startups. It’s working — and people outside our state are taking notice — of our fine young companies and of the deal opportunities.

We do things our way in Oklahoma. We have a capital model that is working better with each passing year for our state’s startups. The state’s investment through OCAST and i2E is at the core of our success.

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. Email Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.



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Linear Health Sciences Receives Grant to Work with Global Center for Medical Innovation https://i2e.org/linear-health-sciences-receives-grant-to-work-with-global-center-for-medical-innovation/ https://i2e.org/linear-health-sciences-receives-grant-to-work-with-global-center-for-medical-innovation/#respond Wed, 15 Mar 2017 20:50:38 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29861 Read more]]> Contact: Liz Dowling
Dowling & Dennis Public Relations
Tel. 415-388-2794

Company Is First to Qualify for GCMI Medtech Accelerator Program

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma – Linear Health Sciences, developer of the Orchid™ Safety Release Valve (SRV), announced that it has received a substantial grant to work with the Global Center for Medical Innovation. GCMI is a comprehensive medical-device innovation center that guides the development and commercialization of new medical devices.

Linear Health Sciences is the first company to qualify for the new GCMI Medtech Accelerator program.

“Linear Health Sciences was hand-selected into our Medtech Accelerator program based on feedback from the clinical community and existing validation from key stakeholders and investors,” said Tiffany Wilson, CEO of GCMI. “Our evaluation confirmed the great potential for the Orchid SRV and Linear’s platform technology, which is designed to meet a critically important unmet clinical need.

“We expect the company to advance steadily toward a successful product launch,” Wilson said. “It takes a village to get from concept to commercialization, and GCMI was founded to help provide the kind of support that will move the company to the next level.”

Linear Health Sciences is developing safety release valve technology for a variety of medical tubing. The company’s first product, the Orchid SRV, is designed to safely prevent the unwanted dislodgement of IVs. The device could provide advantages for patients, nurses, vascular access specialists, and hospitals.

“Our acceptance into the Medtech Accelerator program is tremendously validating for the progress we have made to date,” said Ryan Dennis, MD, the CEO and co-founder of Linear Health Sciences. “It demonstrates the excitement among clinicians and the investment community about the Orchid SRV and our approach to solving a widely recognized problem in nursing and vascular access care.

“GCMI will guide us through our final refinements of our product, protocols, and testing procedures.” Dr. Dennis added. “It will provide us with additional marketing research and customer feedback to aid our commercialization efforts, and it will support the process as we move toward FDA clearance for the Orchid device.”

Potential advantages of Linear Health’s Orchid Safety Release Valve include:

For patients:
Fewer IV restarts including painful needlesticks

Reduced potential for more invasive treatment such as central lines due to loss of peripheral IV integrity

For nurses:
Greater efficiency through avoiding dislodgements and unscheduled IV restarts

Less exposure to sharps injuries and potentially infected blood

For hospitals:
Reduced potential for infiltrations, phlebitis and healthcare-acquired infections

Cost savings due to more efficient use of nursing time and less need to replace entire IV setups because of accidental dislodgements

Greater patient satisfaction

About GCMI

The Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) is the world’s leader in driving efficient medical product innovation. It brings together core members of the medical device community, including universities, research centers, clinicians, established device companies, investors, and startups, with the goal of accelerating the commercialization of innovative medical technology. GCMI, and its wholly owned subsidiary T3 Labs, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and affiliate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, a member of the University System of Georgia. For more information, call 404-385-5191 or access http://devices.net.

About Linear Health Sciences

Founded by a physician and two engineers, Linear Health Sciences is the developer of the Orchid Safety Release Valve and other safety technology solutions for medical tubing. Those solutions are designed to improve the healthcare experience for patients, caregivers, and healthcare institutions. The estimated market for the company’s technology is $1 billion annually. Linear Health is currently pursuing FDA clearance for the Orchid Safety Release Valve. For more information, access www.linearsciences.com.

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EDA: Investments in entrepreneurs grow small businesses in Oklahoma https://i2e.org/eda-investments-in-entrepreneurs-grow-small-businesses-in-oklahoma/ https://i2e.org/eda-investments-in-entrepreneurs-grow-small-businesses-in-oklahoma/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 19:39:50 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29854 Read more]]>  

Due to significant job losses in its manufacturing sector, Oklahoma City needed a strategy to diversify and boost its economy. To move the city forward and create more opportunities for innovation and technology-based businesses, EDA partnered with local nonprofit, i2E, Inc., to support their “Oklahoma City Technology Business Initiative.” The initiative allowed i2E to provide advisory and training services to area entrepreneurs to help them expand their early stage technology companies and gain access to a network of investors.

WeGoLook founder and CEO Robin Smith is shown at her company’s offices

In 2010, EDA awarded i2E $1 million to fund the “Oklahoma City Technology Business Launch Program” to develop new growth services for innovators and entrepreneurs.

WeGoLook, LLC (WGL), a mobile technology company featuring a crowdsourced platform, is a very successful i2E client company that benefited from programs funded by EDA.

“We established a relationship with i2E early in the company’s history, and benefited both by its business advisory services and by i2E-led investment rounds,” said WGL CEO Ms. Robin Smith. “They helped to focus our team and introduced us to local networks that we needed to grow our business.”

Based on the success of the Oklahoma City project, in 2012, EDA awarded i2E $400,000 to fund the Tulsa Development Initiative Project which also provided expanded services to entrepreneurs, this time in Tulsa.

To date, these initiatives have created 383 jobs and attracted 100 million in private investment and are still moving full speed ahead.

Most recently, in fall of 2016, EDA awarded i2E another $199,749 to fund the Venture Assessment Program Expansion to provide entrepreneurial growth services not just in urban centers like Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but to rural areas of the state. The venture program directly supports Oklahoma’s rural and Native American communities in their effort to grow small businesses and strengthen Oklahoma’s innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem across the state.

“Funding from EDA and our local partners has allowed i2E to expand its reach and create new services for entrepreneurs that were previously lacking in the Oklahoma market,” said i2E President & CEO Scott Meacham. “The focus of the funding and the flexibility of the EDA team permitted us to further develop our services and help small, start-up companies in Oklahoma to succeed. We are extremely grateful to the EDA and our local partners.”

Read Mr. Meacham’s article: “Initiative seeks to expand business development in rural, tribal areas of Oklahoma” (The Oklahoman, 2/22/17).

By making innovative and technology-based businesses a priority, Oklahoma has helped commercialize new technology, create new jobs and given the state’s economy a boost.

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Competition fuels entrepreneurial spirit https://i2e.org/competition-fuels-entrepreneurial-spirit/ https://i2e.org/competition-fuels-entrepreneurial-spirit/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:16:44 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29852 Read more]]> By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

“I don’t know if I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I sure do now.”

We hear that over and over from the college and university students who participate in the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup, Oklahoma’s statewide collegiate business plan competition.

In this 13th year of the competition (formerly the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup), student teams from across the state have submitted a record 58 business plans in both High Growth and Small Business divisions.

Why is this milestone so important? Because we are building a pipeline of entrepreneurs and future employees who think entrepreneurially to be the engines of job and wealth creation across Oklahoma for years to come.

In the High Growth division, student entrepreneurs are tackling problems — both big and small — from around the world. Their plans address major health issues like a chewing gum that can provide early detection of the HIV, a solar generator, infrastructure for electric-powered buses, portable calving sheds for ranchers and high-impact absorbing materials used in safety equipment.

In the four years since the Small Business division was added, participation has grown from eight teams to 31. Entrepreneurial interest and inspiration are bubbling up from non-research campuses, two-year colleges and private regional universities — and the business plans we are seeing from these schools are phenomenal.

Imagine an antimicrobial rinse directed toward protecting against foodborne illnesses or an automated practice partner for hockey players. Student teams have written plans for a solution that eliminates the hassle of de-shedding a pet, solar-powered outdoor charging stations and affordable technology solutions for people with motor control and communication difficulties.

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores became the Signature Sponsor of the competition last year. Love’s is all about entrepreneurship. A local family-owned and operated entrepreneurial company started in the 1960s as a true Oklahoma “mom and pop,” today Love’s employs 17,000 people with revenues of $14.2 billion. What an example for Oklahoma’s young entrepreneurs who are going to be in the position of shaking up industries and creating jobs.

Love’s is a great example for other local corporations and businesses to recognize the importance of this kind of opportunity for our state and to directly support the development of tomorrow’s talent, as are our longtime sponsors, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Oklahoma Business Roundtable, OG&E and IBM.

Each year this competition grows, which means more students just might be telling themselves and their advisers, “I don’t know if I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I do now.”

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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The President salutes Oklahoma biotech, sort of https://i2e.org/the-president-salutes-oklahoma-biotech-sort-of/ https://i2e.org/the-president-salutes-oklahoma-biotech-sort-of/#respond Mon, 13 Mar 2017 14:40:32 +0000 http://i2e.org/?p=29849 Read more]]> By Stephen Prescott, M.D.
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

In his first address to a joint session of Congress last month, President Donald Trump highlighted a young woman he’d invited to the speech. Her name was Megan Crowley.

“Megan was diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old,” the President said. “She was not expected to live past 5.”

John Crowley, left, and Dr. William Canfield/The Oklahoman photo

But, he explained, Megan’s father “fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life.” He then introduced Megan, now 20 years old and a sophomore at Notre Dame, who received a big round of applause.

It was a heartwarming moment. Still, one of the people most responsible for that moment went unrecognized.

His name is Dr. William Canfield. He was a scientist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and his research led to the drug that saved Megan’s life.

In his lab, Dr. Canfield made an important breakthrough about how to deliver a missing enzyme into the bodies of people afflicted with a rare genetic disorder called Pompe disease. Pompe is a form of muscular dystrophy that can strike at birth or later in life. For children (like Megan Crowley and her brother) born with the condition, they start to develop muscle weakness shortly after birth, and they typically died in childhood of heart failure.

Canfield founded an Oklahoma City biotechnology company, Novazyme, to develop that discovery. Thanks to the Presbyterian Health Foundation’s commitment to providing best-in-class, subsidized laboratory space to biotech startups, Novazyme was able to set up operations in the research park that bore the foundation’s name. (It’s since sold the facility to OU.)

Under Canfield’s leadership, Novazyme made rapid progress developing an experimental therapy to treat Pompe. John Crowley, Megan’s father, eventually left his job in management at big drug company to join Novazyme as its CEO in an effort to speed the quest to find an effective treatment for Pompe — and save his children’s lives.

When Novazyme’s experimental drug made progress in clinical trials, the company was acquired by Genzyme (which has since merged with a French firm to form Sanofi Genzyme). Over time, the work that had been done by 80 or so staff members in Oklahoma City shifted to Genzyme’s labs in Massachusetts.

Building on Canfield and Novazyme’s work, Genzyme ultimately created Myozyme, an enzyme replacement therapy for patients born with Pompe. In 2006, the FDA approved the drug, which Crowley credits with saving the lives of both of his children.

‘Extraordinary Measures’

If you think this sounds like fodder for Hollywood, you’d be right. This story became the basis for the film “Extraordinary Measures.”

The movie is a thinly fictionalized version of the Canfield/Crowley story. However, while the Crowley character kept his name in the movie, Canfield did not. Amalgamated, to some extent with other scientists who made contributions to the drug’s development, Canfield became Dr. Robert Stonehill (played by Harrison Ford). Similarly — and similarly inexplicably — in the film, Oklahoma became Nebraska.

Still, a little script doctoring can’t change the facts. Canfield and Oklahoma City’s bioscience cluster played a key part in saving the lives of Megan Crowley and other Pompe patients.

Genzyme eventually created a second drug, Lumizyme, which is biologically identical to Myozyme. The FDA approved it for the treatment of adult-onset Pompe, and it’s now used to treat all patients who suffer from the disease. Megan and her brother continue to receive treatment with the drug today.

And what of Dr. Canfield?

No one-hit wonder, he founded Cytovance, a biopharmaceutical manufacturing company, in Oklahoma City. He helped grow the company to almost 200 employees, then engineered a successful sale in 2015.

These days, he has his sights trained on completing the Hill, his real estate development in Deep Deuce. But he’s also kept a foothold in biotech, now working with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s Dr. Kevin Moore on Siwa Biotech, another startup.

Although it would have been fantastic (and well deserved) for the president to call out Dr. Canfield and Oklahoma City in his big speech, I can’t fault him for failing to do so. After all, he had a few other topics he needed to cover.

But it’s worth remembering that our bioscience cluster and its innovative, entrepreneurial researchers helped author that heartwarming salute to Megan. And if we continue on our current path of supporting their work, I predict there will be more uplifting stories to be told.

A physician and medical researcher, Prescott is president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and can be reached at omrf-president@omrf.org.

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