By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2018, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
The State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI), the national network that serves those involved in technology-based economic development, recently announced a list of the most active technology-based economic development funds in the U.S. and Canada.
SSTI reviewed PitchBook data from hundreds of nonprofit, public, or university-centric investment funds to benchmark 2017 investment activity. (PitchBook is a leading reporting and platform of private market data.)
SSTI reported that the top 24 of the more than 500 companies analyzed each invested in at least a dozen startups in the last year. The range was from 12 to 61 investments in 2017.
i2E doesn’t report investment results to PitchBook, but if we did, our 2017 record of 32 investments in 21 companies would place us at 11th in this Top 24 ranking.
It’s impressive that i2E, representing Oklahoma as the state’s primary source of investment capital for advanced technology startups and growth companies, benchmarks among the top 24 most active nonprofit investment funds in North America.
Last year was the busiest year that we’ve ever had at i2E. Comparing our results with this benchmarking data from SSTI, it’s important to recognize the strong signal about the quantity and quality of deal flow that is bubbling up in Oklahoma. It’s unprecedented in the state and it is bell ringing compared to our peers across the country.
So why is all this happening now?
Certainly, investment capital and deal flow have the ultimate chicken-or-egg-first relationship; capital attracts deals and deal flow attracts capital. Multimillion dollar exits that remain in state (WeGoLook, for example) and a $50 million-dollar Series B round (with about $43 million coming from Oklahoma investors) in Tetherex Pharmaceuticals fan the flame of Oklahoma as a place to start and grow a company.
And there are other reasons. Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa have growing reputations as cool places to live. They are attracting a creative class of Millennials to start their careers and attracting experienced Oklahomans and serial entrepreneurs — to move back home to start their next company.
WalletHub compared the relative startup opportunities that exist in more than 180 U.S. cities using 19 key metrics, ranging from five-year business survival rate to office affordability. Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa were in the top 25 cities. Oklahoma City was number one.
These are all indications that the rest of the country is starting to figure out that it’s smart to start a business here. We have technology, investment capital, entrepreneurial know-how, and now, a track record.
If we continue to build on the momentum we’ve seen over the last 24 months, imagine the impact on the state that the new jobs and revenue we are creating will have.
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.
Read the article at newsok.com