serves as a portal to public and private resources.132 The goal of i2E is to create new, home-grown companies in the state of Oklahoma. “What we want to do,” said Mr. Thomison, “is to build from within.” Referring to the “three-legged stool” described by Mr. Bendis, he said that i2E focuses on just one of the legs: growing companies within the state. “We are in Oklahoma to help people there,” he said, “and we want to leverage our in-state resources to the maximum degree.”
To increase the number of successful small firms, Mr. Thomison said, his organization collaborates with universities to provide commercialization services, including assistance in marketing, finance, and competitive strategies. The goal was to teach young businesses how to gain access to capital, good management, and networking.
Mr. Thomison said that his organization also helps Oklahoma firms recruit talent needed to grow their company. In most technology-based start-up companies, he said, the leader and founder is the technician or scientist. “These leaders know the technology and the product, and that’s extremely important,” he said. “But it takes a team to pull off a commercialization.” The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) has found that it must begin by recruiting a CEO and a vice-president of marketing. As the company approaches commercialization, it must also hire a chief financial officer to position the firm to seek venture capital. This positioning includes demonstrating credible resources and creating a capital plan.
To date, OCAST had helped create 433 client companies. Of those, 140 had raised $359 million in equity funding – 66 percent of it from outside the state – and 44 had received $38 million in grants. For 2009, the impacts on the state included $43.4 million in payroll, $115.6 million in reported revenues, and 251 new jobs. The combined companies had developed 336 new products.
As documented in the proceedings of this National Academies symposium, Arkansas’ political, academic, and business leaders are seeking to foster greater awareness of the challenges facing the state and are taking a number of steps to foster the development of a knowledge-based economy.
132 I2E website, http://www.i2E.org/about Created in 1987, OCAST is a state government agency responsible for technology-based economic development. As of late 2011 OCAST had helped create 433 client companies, 140 of which had raised $359 million in equity funding (66 percent from outside Oklahoma). The combined companies have developed 336 new products. One OCAST innovation was to hire a “CFO in residence,” in effect a CFO capable of serving a number of startups simultaneously on a part-time basis in their efforts to secure venture capital. See the summary of the presentation by David Thomison in the Proceedings chapter in this volume