Officials with Oklahoma’s Economic Development Generating Excellence (EDGE) program approved more than $6.9 million funding for five projects aimed at stimulating the state’s economy. Paul Risser, executive director of the EDGE Policy Board, said the second year of funding is important to expand the state’s tech-based economy. "This action, coupled with other economic development efforts in the state, tells the world that Oklahoma recognizes that technology and innovation drive business development and growth, and that the state is willing to make these key investments,” Risser said. Projects are funded with earnings from the $150 million EDGE Fund endowment, approved by the state Legislature in 2006. Areas of investment are agriculture, aerospace, biotechnology, energy, information technology and telecommunications, nanotechnology, sensors and weather science. The five winning proposals were selected from 65 that were evaluated by the policy board and its nationwide advisory committee. Thirteen proposals were reviewed by experts and the advisory committee who provided the policy board with their review and recommendations.
ProjectsThe projects approved for funding are: →Oklahoma flight innovation, research and testing of unmanned aerial systems — $1.5 million, two years. Led by the University Multispectral Laboratories in Ponca City and Oklahoma State University, the project will create a testing facility at Fort Sill in Lawton that allows flight and ground of unmanned aerial systems within restricted airspace. The consortium includes several private companies and the NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium. →Utilizing Oklahoma resources to develop novel therapeutics for Crohn’s Disease — $1.8 million, two years. Led by Selexys Pharmaceuticals Corp. in Oklahoma City with several partners, including Cytovance Biologics, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and Oklahoma Foundation for Digestive Research, the project will develop a Crohn’s Disease treatment. →Boosting Oklahoma oil production using next-generation surfactant technology — $2 million, three years. Led by the University of Oklahoma School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, with Mid Con Energy of Tulsa, the project will use chemical flooding technology from OU laboratories, based on self-assembling, nanostructured surfactant membranes at the oil/water interface, to extract additional oil from poorly producing oil wells. →Health information exchange platform — $500,000, one year. The project is led by the OU School of Community Medicine in Tulsa, with Benefit Informatics Inc., a Tulsa technology company. Others involved include George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Greater Tulsa Health Access Network and several companies. The project’s goal is to create a software system called the Health Information Exchange Platform that will connect numerous health information exchanges with multiple health care applications. →Nano-engineered infrared sensors $1 million, three years. Led by Amethyst Research in Ardmore, the project will create nano-engineered infrared sensors for devices such as night vision goggles, using a proprietary, silicon based technology.