Skip to main content

News and Media

Open Main MenuClose Main Menu

Tulsa receives EDA Tech Hubs designation with ‘Equitable & Trustworthy Autonomy’ proposal

Monday, October 23, 2023

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

OSU part of Tulsa consortium now eligible for up to $75 million in federal funding to accelerate advanced development of autonomous technologies


The U.S. Economic Development Administration has named Tulsa a “Tech Hub” as part of a historic $500 million investment in U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. 

Tulsa’s proposal, the Tulsa Hub for Equitable & Trustworthy Autonomy, will advance the development of autonomous technologies, such as uncrewed aerial systems, drones, cybersecurity and generative artificial intelligence. THETA was led by Tulsa Innovation Labs — an initiative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation — and coalition members Oklahoma State University, Black Tech Street, Madison Strategies Group, PartnerTulsa, the University of Tulsa, Tulsa Community College and Tulsa Economic Development Corporation.

“The autonomous systems revolution is upon us, and it is evident through this distinction from the EDA that the Greater Tulsa Region is uniquely positioned to lead innovation in these technologies, which are critical to our country,” said Jennifer Hankins, managing director of TIL. “The Tech Hubs designation is also an important validation of TIL’s tech-led economic development strategy for the region, 'Tulsa’s Tech Niche.' This moment affirms Tulsa’s position as a nationwide leader in uncrewed aerial systems, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing and other complementary industries.”

The Tech Hubs designation affirms that American leadership in science and technology is firmly rooted in the Tulsa region. THETA will develop, deploy and manufacture the next generation of technological innovations in autonomous technologies specifically focused on counter-UAS, agriculture and pipeline inspection, parcel delivery, and urban and regional mobility. THETA ensures these innovations and the quality jobs they bring will start, grow and remain in the Greater Tulsa Region.

In collaboration with The Innovation Foundation at Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education will lead the OSU portion of THETA, leveraging its expertise in development and testing of autonomous systems. Utilizing the LaunchPad Center for Advanced Mobility on the OSU Tulsa campus, OAIRE research experts will work with companies and stakeholders in the Tulsa region to leverage OSU assets and resources to increase Tulsa's global competitiveness in autonomous technology.

“As Oklahoma’s land-grant university, we are deeply committed to the aerospace industry and are proud to see our visionary leadership in UAS and advanced air mobility research and technology development acknowledged in such a significant way,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “This designation solidifies OSU as the premier university for the next generation of aerospace technologies, which will continue to have a meaningful impact on Tulsa, our state and Oklahoma State University.”

TU President Brad Carson said the future is exciting for Tulsa with this partnership.

“The University of Tulsa has long been recognized as a top cybersecurity research university with ongoing applications in critical infrastructure protection, smart environments and robotics,” he said. “We are proud to be a part of this coalition of partners dedicated to making Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma a center of gravity for critical cyber, autonomy and human-machine teaming innovations that improve our national security. By partnering together and sharing expertise, Tulsa is poised to become globally competitive in these technologies.”

THETA was one of 31 Tech Hubs designees chosen from a pool of 197 applicants. The Tech Hubs designation makes Tulsa eligible to apply for up to $75 million in implementation funding from the EDA in Phase 2 of the Tech Hubs Program. THETA will leverage these funds to transform the Greater Tulsa Region into the world’s leading source of innovations and talent in autonomous systems, expanding equitable economic opportunities across the Tulsa region, ensuring all Tulsans are able to participate in the region’s resurgence.

“This is an incredible moment for Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma, indicative of our promising economic future and a testament to the tireless work and creativity of countless partners across the region,” said Kian Kamas, executive director of PartnerTulsa. “PartnerTulsa’s mission is to increase economic opportunities for our citizens and establish a more resilient regional economy. A Tech Hubs designation pushes us closer to our goal of expanding access to all Tulsans and building a more equitable economy."

With the Tech Hubs distinction, the Greater Tulsa Region is set to capture $4 billion of the $1.36 trillion global autonomous systems market, with the goal of creating nearly 200,000 new jobs in the next decade. Through THETA’s intentional focus on equity, Tulsa will have an opportunity to add 66,000 women and 39,000 Black, Latinx and Native American individuals to the region’s workforce in autonomous systems-related occupations, with wages $7,000 higher than the regional average.

“The Black Tech Street vision to rebirth Black Wall Street into a premier Black Innovation Economy is strongly reflected and represented in this THETA proposal,” said Tyrance Billingsley II, executive director of Black Tech Street. “By centering Black Tulsans and the legacy of the Historic Greenwood District within this effort, we are able to further this mission of catalyzing Black wealth creation in our region and across the country.”

The consortium that participated in the Tulsa Hub for Equitable & Trustworthy Autonomy proposal, which resulted in the Tech Hubs designation, includes 50 partners across public and private sectors.

“We believe this designation is a defining moment for Tulsa. The deliberative and collaborative work of Tulsa’s private and public sector partners in recent years is opening up new frontiers for all Tulsans,” said Ken Levit, executive director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. “We are aspiring to build a vibrant, energetic and inclusive economy in Tulsa that is a model for this nation. This designation of Tulsa as a Tech Hub tells the world that something important is happening here. The George Kaiser Family Foundation will continue to support the effort to realize Tulsa’s full potential under this initiative as we work together to become a globally competitive city that prospers for all.”

The Tech Hubs designees will now compete for Phase 2 of the funding for implementation projects to help propel the region into a self-sustaining, globally competitive Tech Hub.

Back To Top
SVG directory not found.