Oklahoma entrepreneurs long have complained about the lack of
local capital and services to get a budding company off the ground.
Help for them could be on the way, in the form of a one-stop
If there is the right kind of interest, in the form of an entity
to operate the center, it could become a reality next year.
The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology
plans to issue a request for proposals in an effort to find an
operator. The request is expected to be sent out within two weeks
and proposals are due in probably within 60 to 90 days, said Sheri
Stickley, who directs the OCAST initiative.
Stickley, director of Technology Development Programs for the 10-
year-old state agency, was instrumental in establishing the Oklahoma
Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence, a Tulsa-based statewide group
formed to help modernize Oklahoma's manufacturers.
When the center opens, it will provide support for technology-
based companies, create partnerships be-tween Oklahoma firms and
universities, provide access to early-stage capital, assist in
business, organizational management and marketing and assist with
legal and intellectual property matters, Stickley said.
"Right now, it's hard to say exactly what the center will
provide," she said. "The idea of this came from talking with
successful start-up high-technology firms who said it would be nice
to have these sorts of things provided by the state."
OCAST has received $900,000 for funding the center in fiscal year
"We hope that this will become a regular part of our
appropriations," she said.
No date has been set for opening the center nor has a decision
been made as to where the center will be located.
"We are asking the proposers to tell us where they intend to house
their staff," Stickley said. "We also are asking for their
anticipated start-up date, their time lines and schedules.
"Obviously, those that can do this expeditiously will be looked at
Although there probably isn't one company with the expertise in
all these areas, there probably will be "a lot of consortia spring up
to make proposals to us," Stickley said.
"There are a lot of consulting companies out there with expertise
in certain areas and there are a lot of public economic development
agencies," she said. "Probably, there will be a mix of
public-private organizations that will submit proposals. …