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OAIRE receives Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award

Monday, March 18, 2024

Media Contact: Sydney Trainor | Communications and Media Relations Specialist | 405-744-9782 |

Twenty-seven business and higher education partnerships throughout the state were recently recognized as innovative collaborations that further the education of Oklahoma’s workforce. 

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award is designed to highlight successful partnerships between higher education institutions, businesses and the community to further cultivate the higher learning environment through State Regents’ Economic Development Grants.  

Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, State Regents’ Chair Jack Sherry, State Regent Ann Holloway and Chancellor Allison Garrett participated in the ceremony, held March 7 at the University of Central Oklahoma.  

Tulsa Innovation Labs partnered with the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education as well as Osage LLC to receive a $38.2 million grant to support the Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility Cluster. 

OAIRE is part of the The Innovation Foundation at Oklahoma State University along with the Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute, Hamm Institute for American Energy and the National Center for Wellness and Recovery. 

OAIRE was recognized for the Skyway Range partnership with the Osage Nation, which connects the Osage Skyway36 Droneport, OSU’s Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station, and two additional nodes in the region. OAIRE and the Osage Nation’s partnership on the Skyway Range facilitates real-world testing of advanced air mobility and drone capabilities in urban and suburban settings. 

"OSU and OAIRE are proud to be recognized for our partnership with Osage LLC and our work in advancing mobility," said Elizabeth Pollard, CEO and president of The Innovation Foundation at OSU. "Pioneering innovations is at the heart of what we do. The Skyway Range exemplifies our goal to connect technology with industry and community partners leading to economic development in the region." 

The grant also establishes OAIRE’s LaunchPad Center at OSU-Tulsa, which aims to provide essential resources for transitioning innovations from early stages to practical field testing and validation, benefiting researchers, students, companies and startups.  

James Spencer was hired in October to serve as LaunchPad Director.  

“Building bridges between small companies and the Innovation Foundation’s R&D assets is what we do,” Spencer said. “The difference between success and failure can be as simple as lending our expertise.” 

OAIRE Executive Director Jamey Jacob praised the relationship with Osage LLC.  

“As part of OSU’s land-grant mission, working with tribal nations across the state and country is ingrained into every project we do,” Dr. Jacob said. “Elevating opportunities in STEM careers and looking for unique assets our sovereign nations can compete is rewarding for our team.” 

Institutions involved in these partnerships provide $500 for tuition waivers to employees of the partnering businesses; internships that enable current students to work at the partnering businesses; faculty externships with the partnering businesses; and/or enhancement of the partnerships with additional equipment, materials or supplies. The State Regents provide a $500 match to the waivers. 

“Producing more workforce-ready graduates by partnering with the business community and connecting students to the workforce is fundamental to meeting Oklahoma’s future workforce needs,” Garrett said. “We are proud to recognize these partnerships, which demonstrate successful collaborations with public, private and nonprofit partners to strengthen Oklahoma’s economy.” 

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