The economy of the Greater Oklahoma City region is diverse. While federal, state and local government are the largest employers and the oil and natural gas sector generates the largest revenues, the area’s major economic contributors include:
Academia: The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the anchor academic institution in the Innovation District, is one of only a few academic medical campuses in the country to house a comprehensive set of professional and medical schools, including colleges of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, graduate studies, and public health. Given the interdisciplinary nature of health-related research, having these professional schools clustered in one location—often sharing faculty and funding—is a significant advantage to the region and provides an unprecedented opportunity to link clinical care and research to support commercial activity in the health fields. In addition to OU, the Greater Oklahoma City area is home to 14 other public and private colleges and universities, including Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma City University, and the University of Central Oklahoma. Oklahoma also has a nationally acclaimed Career and Technology system. Combined, these institutions serve well over 130,000 students from high school through graduate school, offering degree programs and training. Read More…
Aviation & Aerospace: The region has considerable economic strengths in aerospace engineering, led by Tinker Air Force Base, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and the FAA Academy with the largest concentration of aviation and aerospace firms in the state, the Greater Oklahoma City region’s 236 firms employ 36,600 workers – and growing. Nearly 65 percent of the workforce at Tinker Air Force Base – the largest single site employer in the state – consists of civilian contractors and service providers. Greater OKC now boasts more than 300 public- and private-sector aviation and aerospace firms. Read More…
Bioscience: Oklahoma City’s Bioscience presence is generating national and international attention. The sector employs more than 51,000 statewide. Companies within this industry provide Bioscience goods and services, as well as education and research testing. Undeniably, one of the most significant factors in this area’s biotech boom is the powerful symbiotic relationship between entrepreneurs, clinical researchers, academic investigators, and public and private investors. Firms in Greater Oklahoma City’s Bioscience sector boast annual revenues of more than $4.1 billion. Read More…
Energy: Oklahoma City is the Energy capital of the state. Energy accounts for approximately 3 percent of metro employment but more than 10 percent of total compensation. The sector draws its strength from several Energy companies with headquarters in the city, including Fortune 500 energy companies. The Energy sector is growing rapidly, responding to the extraordinary opportunity the industry offers today. Career opportunities in this expanding sector include science streams, such as geology and engineering, as well as business streams, such as human resources and accounting. Read More…
Health Care: As one of the nation’s major centers of healthcare delivery, the Oklahoma City region employs more than 82,000 health care sector workers. Our 36 general medical and surgical hospitals and 9 specialized hospitals combine to offer outstanding healthcare.
Research: The Innovation District concentrates a substantial portion of the city and state’s research and development assets. Three quarters of the entire state’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) investments flow to the district. Drug development is a particular strength within the district in areas focusing on cancer, rheumatology, diabetes, biochemistry, immunology, and hematology, among others. Because the University Research Park, which includes the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the Presbyterian Health Foundation, is located within the district, several large life sciences companies such as Cytovance and COARE Biotechnology are strategically located nearby. Outside of health care, the Baker Hughes/GE Energy Innovation Center, located in the hub of the district, functions as an accelerator and collaborator to technology, academic, and investment partners. The center is focused on supporting the technological ecosystem, encouraging the pursuit of smarter ways to bring energy to the world.
Equidistant from both U.S. coastal bio corridors – frontiers of bioscience are illuminating here. Read more about how this thriving, cosmopolitan capital is an engine of futuristic medicine in the following link.
Critical mass is an attribute when you are working on growing your business. Boeing Co. has it several years after creating an engineering capability center in Oklahoma City that serves not only the U.S. Air Force, but other Boeing customers throughout the globe.
Well-known for being a global oil capital, Oklahoma City’s energy industry has developed significantly from its oil-intense beginnings. Hundreds of energy companies here are growing rapidly, responding to the extraordinary opportunity the industry offers today. Importantly, all components are represented – large and small independents, midstream companies, service businesses, startups and spinoffs.
The Oklahoma City Innovation District (OKCID) encompasses a multimodal business and research ecosystem with a mature core in biomedical research that is poised to advance the state of healthcare for Oklahomans and the region. Adding to the existing assets within the core of the District, the newly planned Innovation District complex, a 2.7 acre development that includes Innovation Hall, Stiles Hotel and a world-class biomanufacturing and research facility will help to usher in a new era of Oklahoma biomedical research that sees a better connection between venture capital markets and translational ideas. The District will attract new companies and drug discovery resources to accelerate the development and scale-up of novel medicines, diagnostics and biotechnologies benefiting patients in need in our region and around the world.
With an allied network of OK venture capital partners like i2E/OCAST, Presbyterian Health Foundation, Echo Investment Capital, Oklahoma Life Science Fund, Cortado Ventures and Boyd Street, the District will foster a heretofore untenable linkage between private sector funding and idea makers. With its numerous institutional partners, OKCID will facilitate unmatched efficiencies – relative to other innovation districts- in connecting funded projects with clinical research centers in Oklahoma City like Stephenson Cancer Center, Harold Hamm Diabetes Center, and Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. OU Medical Center, the OU Health Sciences Center and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation will continue to attract foundational research dollars to fuel the biopharma growth industry. Finally, affiliated anchor residents like LabCor, Dianon, Pure MHC, SIWA Biotech, ARL Bio Pharma, Cytovance Biologics, DNA Solutions, and Wheeler Labs will provide rapid, cost-effective services to accelerate the pipeline.
The organization that spearheaded Oklahoma City’s entrance into biotech ventures is the Presbyterian Health Foundation. The Board of Directors recognized back in 1985 that the research conducted on the OU Medical Campus was on an international caliber, yet the translation of that research was not fully being realized due to a lack of infrastructure (low-cost, nearby labs and office space). PHF embarked on a 25-year journey to build the PHF Research Park adjacent to the OU Medical campus, one of only a few such initiative in the US at the time. As evidence of the economic value created by PHF, the 700,000 square foot research park was purchased by the University of Oklahoma for $85 million in 2013. The research park is in the heart of the Innovation District and will continue to support the growing vertical.
Other examples of economic value creation in the Innovation District:
Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Founded by east coast biotech executive John Crowly and OUHSC professor, Dr. Bill Canfield in 1999 to commercialize an enzyme replacement therapy for a rare disease known as Pompe disease. Novazyme was located in the PHF Research Park and was acquired by Cambridge, MA based Genzyme Corporation in 2001 for $225 million. Genzyme operated in the PHF Research Park with 26 employees until the company was acquired by French pharma giant, Sanofi in 2011. Sanofi Genzyme serves the rare disease market and earns nearly $1 billion in annual revenues from sales of the Novazyme innovation, Myozyme®.
Selexys Pharmaceuticals: Located in the OU Research Park in 2016 when it was acquired by Swiss giant, Novartis for $655 million. Selexys Pharmaceuticals was founded by Alexion co-founders, Scott Rollins and Russell Rother with a focus on developing biologics for hematologic and inflammatory disorders. Their product, SelG1, was a monoclonal antibody therapeutic discovered by Dr. Rod McEver at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and manufactured at Cytovance Biologics. Selexys was a great example of how the bioscience sector in Oklahoma could be leveraged to create value for Oklahoma. Prior to the Novartis deal, Selexys obtained local investment from individuals and organizations including i2E Inc. and the Oklahoma Life Science Fund. The Oklahoma Economic Development Generating Excellence (EDGE) program provided $12 million in grants.
Cytovance Biologics: Bill Canfield and John Crowly left Genzyme to establish Cytovance Biologics inside the PHF Research Park. Cytovance was funded initially by local Oklahoma investor but as it grew, private equity was brought as well as a new management group that took the company to a $206 million sale in 2015 to a Chinese pharmaceutical company (Shenzen Hepalink Pharmaceutical Group) looking for strategic manufacturing capabilities to support its own monoclonal antibody pipeline.
Pure MHC and Pure MHC Solutions: Pure is a drug discovery and development company co-founded by OUHSC professor, Dr. William Hildebrand and Thomas Harlan of Emergent Technologies in Austin, Texas. Pure’s platform technology and domain expertise is in disease-specific (HLA Class I and Class II) target identification and validation, as well as immunotherapeutic drug development for cancer, infectious and autoimmune diseases. Pure MHC Service is an integrated contract research company providing collaborative support to partners in epitope discovery, validation, development and therapeutic exploitation through expansive HLA experience. Pure has announced multiple partnerships including one with OUHSC on COVID-19 vaccine development and one with AbbVie around oncology research.
Wheeler Labs: Wheeler Labs operates a molecular diagnostics laboratory in OUHSC Research Park focused on COVID-19 diagnostics (PCR laboratory). Wheeler is funded by OKC’s Echo Investment Capital. Recently, Echo entered a joint venture agreement with Boston based drug discovery firm Alloy Therapeutics to build out a new type of biomanufacturing company focused on quality, efficiency and long-term customer relationships over scale and near-term gains. The new JV, Wheeler Bio is building out a satellite lab located inside the Alloy Therapeutics facility in Boston which will allow efficient integration of drug discovery and manufacturing programming to drive the timelines down for partners to reach clinical milestones.