There are always winners and losers in every state budgeting process. Unfortunately, science, technology, and Oklahoma’s commercialization efforts were the losers this time around.
Not only did the Legislature cut the overall budget of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Technology and Science (OCAST) by 5.5 percent (and as a result i2E, as well), another $4 million was cut ($2 million each) from the Oklahoma Applied Research Support (OARS) grants fund and from the i2E Seed Capital Fund.
It is disheartening to see state structural budget problems impact Oklahoma’s commercialization efforts.
As a result of this loss of seed funding, four to eight new companies will not get started in Oklahoma and new innovations that could have been funded by OARS won’t be.
When outstanding inventors and entrepreneurs can’t get the resources they need to move ahead with their research, invention, or startups in one state, they begin to look around.
Oklahoma happens to be sandwiched between states — like Texas and Kansas — that are growing enormous portfolios of new companies with plentiful resources for innovation and entrepreneurship. When Oklahoma reduces the resources that are allocated to research and commercialization, we risk driving the jobs and revenue that go along with new technology across our borders.
It’s happened before.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company with a market cap of $30.73 billion, worldwide sales of $1.5 billion, and is ranked No. 2 on the 2012 Forbes list of Innovation Companies. Alexion’s blockbuster drug Soliris is founded on a technology that came from Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
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