SBA Cluster Initiative Award helps provide more resources, partners to growing Unmanned Aerial Systems industry in Oklahoma, South Kansas
Contact: Josh O’Brien
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Oklahoma and south Kansas industry leaders said today that the US Small Business Administration’s awarding of a $500,000 Cluster Initiative contract for the area’s Unmanned Aerial System sector is a great opportunity to work collaboratively using new resources to build on past success.
The Oklahoma/South Kansas UAS proposal was one of three new awards announced by the SBA today, joining 11 clusters throughout the country. The $500,000 proposal, which has up to four additional years of renewal at the same amount, will be managed by Development Capital Networks with guidance from the Oklahoma UAS Council. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is a lead stakeholder.
“This SBA award is a tribute to our emerging Unmanned Aerial Systems industry,” said Dr. Steve McKeever, Oklahoma secretary of science and technology and chair of the Oklahoma UAS Council. “We have been recognized for our strong foundation and for the potential of our region to lead this industry.”
Vince Howie, Aerospace & Defense Director for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said the award is “a great way to build on what we already have” in the industry.
“We need to use this award to bring more technology, capital and entrepreneurs to accelerate our UAS industry,” Howie said.
The Oklahoma/South Kansas proposal includes 18 measurable goals, such as attracting technologies from federal labs and universities; supporting a variety of national, regional and local events, as well as mentoring and accelerator services; working with existing industry-related organizations; cataloging and developing resource guides; and attracting venture capital and angel investors and connecting them with entrepreneurs.
“We are at the early stages of a large global industry,” said Robert Heard, a Managing Director of Development Capital Networks. “We wouldn’t have this award without the talents and accomplishments of many people. This SBA contract provides great opportunities to do more, to expand our collaboration and widen our vision.”
Other regional partner organizations for the Cluster Initiative contract include Cowboy Technologies Inc., the South Kansas Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership and the Choctaw Nation Promise Zone.
Representatives from the Oklahoma/South Kansas UAS Cluster will be attending the Fall 2015 US Cluster Initiative convening on Monday, Oct. 16 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. This one-day event will provide a forum for initiative leaders across the country and across sectors to interact with one another, share best practices and continue to tackle obstacles facing the field. Specific topics and issues to be covered will be identified by attendees.
The State Science and Technology Institute National Conference on Oct. 27-28 in Oklahoma City will also feature a track specifically focused on issues facing sector, cluster and innovation initiatives, including financial sustainability, media marketing, community building and inclusion strategies.
About Development Capital Networks LLC
For more than 20 years, the team at Development Capital Networks (DCN) has provided specialized products, management and training to development associations and entrepreneurial networks. Its sector expertise includes regional economic development, technology transfer, development finance, entrepreneurship, venture capital and capital formation. More about DCN at dcnteam.com.