Via the OKC Innovation District
On Friday, September 2, 2022, President Biden announced the Oklahoma Biotech Innovation Cluster (OBIC) as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. The initiative was funded by President Biden's American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA).
The OBIC Initiative is spearheaded by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, alongside primary coalition partners including the Oklahoma City Innovation District, University of Oklahoma, and with industry leadership from Echo Investment Capital. The OBIC coalition is supported by more than 40 partners across academia, tribal nations, government, industry, community, investors, and other key stakeholders involved in the continued development of the burgeoning biotechnology cluster in Oklahoma.
With $35 million in EDA funding, the Oklahoma Biotech Innovation Cluster will rapidly expand the region's biotechnology cluster, bolstering domestic resiliency within the biopharmaceutical supply chain, and making the cluster more globally competitive.
The grant proposal was designed to catalyze the bioscience sector in the Oklahoma City region, taking advantage of groundwork laid in the industry by Oklahoma City leaders over the last 25 years, the growth of new private investment in the region, and the opportunities presented by growing complexities and bottlenecks in the drug development and delivery process. The coalition's plan was developed to seize upon industry shifts that are increasingly advantaging cost-effective and streamlined development ecosystems, enabling life sciences innovators to move seamlessly from ideation to clinical trials and manufacturing, and eventually to market without leaving Oklahoma.
“Being one of the top 21 out of 529 applications chosen by the EDA makes an incredible statement out of Oklahoma City that our community is on the forefront of biotech advancement across the country,” Katy Boren, the President & CEO of the OKC Innovation District, said. “This is such exciting news for not only all of the organizations that helped spearhead this initiative, but also for the entire state of Oklahoma as we propel toward a more innovative future.”
The grant will fund six core investment projects, most of which are centered in the heart of the OKC Innovation District:
1. Biomanufacturing Workforce Training Center - a new program housed in the OKC Innovation District to meet the growing demand for skilled labor in the OBIC, which will enable the formation of inclusive, non-degreed careers.
2. OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center for Therapeutics - Translational Research Labs: development of 10 translational research labs dedicated to drug discovery within the OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center.
3. Oklahoma Biotech Startup Program - supportive programming to build a vibrant regional biotech startup pipeline led by the University of Oklahoma.
4. The University of Oklahoma Biotech Core Facility - a facility with state-of-the-art high-throughput, advanced bioprocessing equipment and services for OU instructors and researchers, local nonprofits and private companies.
5. OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center Early Phase Clinical Trial Network - an initiative to double the size of the existing clinical trial program at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center and to commensurate with the demand for trials.
6. Oklahoma Bioscience Cluster Initiative - an initiative to lead regular convenings of industry leadership, conduct needs assessments, encourage regional connectivity, and spur policy advocacy.