By Scott Meacham
In this Thanksgiving week, I am reminded of all that we here in Oklahoma have to be grateful for—our friends, neighbors, and co-workers; the natural resources and beauty of our state, and, especially, the tenacity and creativity that is such a driver of entrepreneurship and new company and new job creation.
If I sound partial, as well as thankful, that’s because I am. I love Oklahoma. I was born in Oklahoma City, grew up in Clinton and Chickasha and educated at OU. I have lived and worked here all my life. In fact, I am a fifth generation Oklahoman.
My roots run deep, but I have also traveled quite a bit. Beyond oil wells and tornadoes (which by the way happen to be “Red Tornadoes” if you are from Clinton), many people I meet don’t know much about our state or have preconceived notions based on old westerns or the famous play, Oklahoma. As a person whose interest — both personal and professional — is history and innovation, naturally, I am happy to enlighten them.
I start with my historical favorites. Carl Magee who invented the parking meter and Sylvan Goldman, the grocer who invented the shopping cart.
Magee set out to solve a parking shortage in Oklahoma City and discovered that nickels pumped into the coin-fed meters made his invention a revenue-producer for Oklahoma City and a job-creator in Tulsa where thousands of meters came to be manufactured.
Goldman came up with his basket on wheels so that his customers could purchase more groceries while they were in his store. It worked. I often image how Goldman would smile seeing the modern day interpretation of his “shopping cart” in the upper right hand corner of virtually every e-commerce site.
From Goldman and Magee, I talk about how Oklahoma entrepreneurs are raising the bar, building companies that are life-changing therapies and devices to treat conditions to help thousands and thousands of human beings around the globe.
Would the lives of anyone you know and care about be improved by new solutions and therapies in the treatment of lupus, or by an in-home alternative to kidney dialysis or a new treatment for severe non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?
Would your child’s hospital stay be less stressful with fewer needle sticks because ground-breaking safety valves kept his or her IV in place? How about a treatment that improves vision for people with age-related macular degeneration, or a hearing therapeutic that regrows lost hearing cells, or diagnostic tests that identify fungal disease, including meningitis?
These are examples of the of breakthroughs that Oklahoma startups like Progentec, Simergent, Linear Health Sciences. Kirrhos Pharmaceuticals, Ocutrx, Otologic Pharmaceutics, and IMMY are working on. And those are just a few of the young companies in this state working tirelessly to improve the lives or others.
So, to all those innovators and entrepreneurs that further the story of Oklahoma through their accomplishments—thanks. Thanks also to partners like the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST); Oklahoma’s world-class colleges, universities, and research institutions, and the State, which continues to invest in innovation. We couldn’t do what we do without their help.
I am especially grateful for the great group of motivated and dedicated professionals at i2E that are so committed to the companies we serve, and who make it so easy to come to work every day.
Best wishes to all for a peaceful and thankful holiday season.
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