HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE IMPACT REPORT
Last year, 3,140 jobs were created or retained by OCAST supported organizations along with a 19 to 1 financial return to the state from federal and private investments, according to the recently released OCAST Impact Report.
The report outlines the impact the science and technology industry has had on Oklahoma the past year and highlights Oklahomans who are developing new science and technology ideas, inventions and medical treatments across the state.
- Those working for companies that received funding from OCAST were paid 30 percent more than Oklahoma’s average per capita income.
- In FY 2010, 60 projects were funded.
- In FY 2010, 122 inventors were assisted through the Inventors Assistance Service.
- Due to limited state funding, OCAST can not support all of the qualified Oklahomans who apply leaving 150 qualified Oklahoma projects unfunded in FY 2010.
- OCAST has funded a total of 2,258 projects throughout its 23 year history.
- Those companies and researchers used that funding to attract national grants and private funding to grow their businesses, resulting in more than a $3.9 billion return to Oklahoma.
“In addition to the quantifiable economic impact to our state, there are also huge implications for the health and wellness of our citizens, our children, our businesses and our future,” said Michael Carolina, executive director of OCAST. “Oklahomans are developing cures and treatments for dreaded diseases, processes to improve the efficiency of energy production, technology innovations to help our armed forces ensure safety and security and more.”
For more stories and statistics from the 2011 OCAST Impact Report, visit www.ok.gov/ocast/documents/2011-ImpactReportspread.pdf.
NINE APPROVED, OKLAHOMA PLANT SCIENCE RESEARCH FUNDING
Nine applicants for the OCAST Oklahoma Plant Science research program have been approved for funding totaling $955,039 for the next two years.
While nine applicants were successful in their quest for OCAST funding, some 26 of the 30 applicants were approved for funding by independent peer review. OCAST’s 2011 funding level for plant science provided funding for the first nine, leaving 17 qualified projects without funding from Oklahoma.
Plant science research targets those research activities occurring in higher education, nonprofit research institutions and private enterprises. The projects have potential commercial application and concern plant productivity, renewable biomass, plant-based environmental applications and chemical platforms, plant-based solutions to improve nutrition, human and/or animal health or performance, process applications and seed management and the development of new products and services that shall form the basis of new, high-technology plant science/agriculture industry for Oklahoma.
Projects are for two years. Successful applicants include:
Richard Dixon, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore - Development of Low Lignin Alfalfa Varieties with Enhanced Forage Quality for Oklahoma. This project will develop high biomass, low lignin alfalfa cultivars which can be used as dual purpose forage/bioenergy crops. It has been shown that low lignin alfalfa enables farmers to obtain identical forage yields with one less cut per year; representing a potential savings of 20 percent in harvest costs. Alfalfa yields may increase by up to 50 percent, with annual impacts of $10-50 million at current prices. Using alfalfa as a bioenergy crop, a 50 percent increase in yield would translate to an increase in ethanol productivity of up to 35 million gallons annually, with a value of $121 million at the present ethanol price. Award: $200,000
Patrick Zhao, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore - Advancing Bioinformatics to Understand Mechanisms of Plant Non-coding Small RNA-target Interactions. The proposed work will significantly advance the understanding of the role of small RNAs in plant gene regulation, fuel the development of small RNA-based genomic tools to study gene function, and ultimately help better engineer economically important crops. Award: $100,000
Mingyi Wang, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore - Medicago Truncatula Gene Regulatory Network Prediction Server.
The aim of this project is to provide the legume community a web-based computational service, for building and testing hypotheses on Medicago gene regulatory networks, that governs various biological processes of legume crops. Award: $82,500
Million Tadege, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater - The Molecular Basis of Leaf Blade Development in Medicago Truncatula.
To improve photosynthetic efficiency, this project will define the molecular function of a gene identified as a key transcription factor, STENOFOLIA (STF), from Medicago truncatula. Identifying the molecular mechanism of STF function will significantly advance our understanding of the mechanism of cellular proliferation and differentiation during lateral growth. Award: $100,000
William Henley, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater - Continuous Cultures of Algae: Basic Research Toward Biofuels. The long-term goal of this project is to develop the intellectual foundation to support a new algal biofuels industry in Oklahoma. The team proposes to study pure and mixed continuous cultures of salt tolerant green algae, diatoms and cyanobacteria in the laboratory. It also has the potential to remediate water quality by consuming nutrients in wastewater, and to reduce net CO2 emissions by converting waste CO2 from fossil fuel combustion to biofuels that will displace future fossil fuel use. Award: $99,972
Xiaoqiang Wang, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation , Ardmore - Molecular and Structural Basis of Plant Biomass Biosynthesis.
Plant cell walls are essential for plant life. They are also tightly associated with the quality of plant-based foods and have beneficial effects in human diets, and are the essential materials in industry as a source of fibers and renewable biofuel. As one of the long-term benefits, the proposed research will provide a guide for engineering of crop plants with enhanced production, quality and nutritional value. Award: $100,000
Mark Fishbein, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater - Phylogenomics of Anti-Insect Defenses in Milkweeds. Crop losses to insect damage present one of the greatest challenges to the sustainability of human societies. The crux of the challenge is to counter the ever-evolving ability of insects and other crop pests to circumvent control methods, without incurring unacceptable environmental and economic costs. Successful implementation of this project will provide a proof of concept for seeking additional funding to conduct a more extensive screen of the genes underlying defenses against insect herbivory. Such genetic tools will benefit the cotton, wheat and other agricultural industries of Oklahoma. Award: $99,851
Andrew Doust, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater - Using Foxtail Millet as a Model to Improve Drought Resistance in Biofuel Grasses. Water availability is a prime determinant of crop production. Biofuels have been suggested as a way to increase productivity of land that is marginal for agricultural production in states such as Oklahoma. In order for this to be feasible it will be necessary to breed biofuel grasses such as switchgrass with enhanced ability to withstand water stress and still produce biomass. The research team has experience in genetic analysis of foxtail and green millet and in studying water-use efficiency in several model systems. Award: $100,000
Kefyalew Desta, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater - Teff Growth and Yield as Affected by Day Length, Temperature and Soil Moisture. Teff is an annual tri-purpose grass crop becoming important in many parts of the US. It is a summer crop in which its establishment, growth and yield are significantly influenced by day length, temperature and soil moisture. The results will enable us to choose the right planting time, and suitable locations with appropriate soil types that can allow producers to successfully grow teff in Oklahoma and neighboring states. Award: $72,716
FYI LEGISLATIVE ISSUES RELATED TO SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
The following House Bills may have an impact on science and technology in Oklahoma:
Author: Murphey, Jason
Sponsor: Sykes, Anthony
Caption: Consolidates various state agencies; Places OCAST into the Department of Commerce.
Author: Faught, George
Sponsor: Russell, Steve
Caption: Creates the Destructive Human Embryo Research Act; Penalizes all persons who violate and intentionally or knowingly conduct destructive research on a human embryo.
Author: Reynolds, Mike
Caption: Repeals two sections of law related to the Economic Development Generating Excellence Fund and the Economic Development Generating Excellence Fund Policy Board.
Author: Sears, Earl
Sponsor: Myers, David
Caption: Makes an appropriation to the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.
To track legislation, visit: www.oklegislature.gov.
MCKEEVER, NEW SECRETARY OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Governor Mary Fallin recently appointed Dr. Stephen McKeever, an Oklahoma State University research director, to her cabinet as her secretary of science and technology.
McKeever currently serves as vice president for research and technology transfer at Oklahoma State University and is the executive director of the OSU Multispectral Lab in Ponca City. In his new role, McKeever will support the state’s efforts to transfer new technologies and research into commercial opportunities that benefit our state and local economies.
“Oklahoma is known for excellence in several areas of science and technology even though investment has sometimes been lacking,” said McKeever. “In times of weakened resources it is imperative that the state adopts a strategy for investment and resource support. Such a strategy would involve identification of areas of strengths and opportunities for growth. The strategy would also include public-private partnerships in order to align the state’s research and education institutions with the needs of the private sector and of the state in order to stimulate economic development in identified strategic areas.”
As Secretary of Science and Technology, McKeever also serves as an advisor to the Governor for matters related to science and technology, is responsible for the oversight of entities including OCAST and works to enhance the economic partnerships between higher education, the state and private sector.
“Data reveals that between the two major public research universities in the state (OU and OSU), 25 new companies spun out over a five year span and each have approximately 40-50 licenses with existing companies through which university technology is being commercialized, all for the benefit of the local, state and national economies,” said McKeever.
McKeever’s own research involves radiation sensor development specifically in the detection and measurement of radiation in medical, space and work environments. McKeever’s team examines how radiation interacts with matter and uses this information to devise methods for quantifying the amount of radiation absorbed by the body.
“This can then be used to measure how much radiation a human has been, or might be, exposed to in various situations; for example, a technician in a hospital or a dental office or a worker in a nuclear power plant,“ McKeever said. “My interests in the field started in graduate school in the United Kingdom when I was studying the electrical and optical properties of materials. I found that a lot of information was available in the radiation research literature and this piqued my interest in the field. Once I arrived at OSU, I was determined to immerse myself further into this field and over the years, built a successful research group.”
BIOSCIENCE IMPACTS ECONOMY
The bioscience sector contributes $6.7 billion in economic activity to the region, supports 51,000 jobs earning $2.2 billion in employee compensation and generates $227 million in state and local taxes, according to a report released earlier this month by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
"The economic impact this industry provides to our region is staggering," Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Chairman Carl Edwards said. "The truth is, we are still in the early stages of developing this important sector of our economic engine, and we are already generating a great return on our investments."
According to the study, the region’s non-hospital bioscience employment grew 36 percent as compared to 18 percent growth at the national level between 2004 and 2008. And people employed in the greater Oklahoma City bioscience sector earned $45,439 on average, compared to $37,773 for the average private sector worker in the 11-county region.
The study, completed by Battelle Technology Partnerships Practice, was commissioned by the Chamber in combination with an update of the organization's Bioscience Strategic plan. "We have a commitment to helping see the biosciences grow as a key driver of our economy," Edwards continued. "Battelle is a leader in the field, both for strategy development and sector analysis. Their work has given us guidance, and the analysis shows that we are making progress -- the region has a vibrant and growing bioscience sector."
Direct jobs with the bioscience sector accounted for three percent of total jobs in the region. The total impact of the region's non-hospital bioscience sector, i.e. private bioscience companies, was $1.9 billion. Academic Life Sciences R&D contributed $186.9 million in direct economic activity and $344 million in total activity.
"In the current legislative session, there has been talk about cutting funding to organizations such as OCAST, EDGE and research institutions that are critical to this industry's survival," Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President & CEO Roy Williams said. "We are now starting to see what this industry means to our region, let alone our state and we think it would be foolish to impede this growth when we are starting to see real, quantitative results."
To read the full economic impact study, as well as the recently released strategic plan update, please visit www.greateroklahomacity.com/index.php?submenu=biotech&src=gendocs&ref=ProfileBiotech&category=Industries.
OKLAHOMA HEALTH RESEARCH CONFERENCE
Scientists and researchers from around the state will come together in Oklahoma City on April 6 to showcase information about their latest discoveries that will improve the lives and health of people around the world.
More than 90 people from the research community will participate in the Oklahoma Health Research Conference sponsored by OCAST at the Devon Boathouse on April 6 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Research projects on display range from exploring disorders such as type 1 diabetes, developing early detection of cancer, improving medical technology and therapies such as radiation and developing vaccines and treatments to cure diseases.
The conference will include a keynote address by Richard Alvarez, VP Operations and Research for Selexys Pharmaceuticals and closing remarks from Rodger McEver, chair of the OCAST Health Research Committee.
SBIR & STTR WORKSHOP
OCAST, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, i2E and the University of Central Oklahoma will host a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) workshop on May 3 and 4. The workshop will be conducted by one of the nationally recognized experts in this field, Greenwood Consulting.
The SBIR program and its sibling, the STTR program, are federal initiatives that provide more than $2.5 billion in grants and contracts each year to small and start-up companies to develop new or enhanced products and services based on advanced technologies. About 40 percent of the SBIR Phase I awards made each year go to firms with no prior SBIR experience.
The two-day workshop will cover the basics for SBIR proposal development.
SBIR and STTR Phase I Overview and Proposal Preparation. Learn the basics of SBIR/STTR and how the programs have changed recently, then prepare to discover a simple and logical 4-step process to preparing a competitive Phase I SBIR/STTR proposal.
SBIR and STTR Cost Proposal Preparation and Government Accounting. Prepare to wade through and actually make sense out of the perplexing world of the SBIR/STTR cost proposal, and how to keep records to the government's satisfaction when you win an SBIR award. We will show you how to develop an indirect rate, talk about what to expect in the way of government audits and help you with government accounting terminology. While aimed at SBIR/STTR competitors, this is a one-of-a-kind workshop that has proven valuable for any recipient of government contracts and grants.
Registration information and workshop location will be posted on the OCAST website as soon at it becomes available.
CONTRACT COMPLIANCE NEWS
OCAST 1) is launching a series of post award kick-off meetings to inform recent award recipients about contract compliance and policies 2) is starting contract compliance audits and 3) is reminding clients to turn in progress reports.
Post Award Kick-Off Meeting
OCAST has recently developed a Post Award Kick-Off Meeting for each of its funding programs. The workshop was developed for the purpose of 1) communicating important information to recent award recipients regarding contract compliance, and 2) explaining OCAST policy regarding the management of contracts. The goal in conducting these meetings is to take the guesswork out of contract compliance and, as a result, allow the PI and/or research administration staff the opportunity to fully focus on the objectives of the research project.
Many topics will be covered at kick-off meetings. Included are contract management, progress reports, requests for payment, budget modifications, contract modifications (including PI changes, contractor changes, early contract or project terminations, contract extensions, etc.), and OCAST audit policy.
Contract Compliance Audits
In the last 23 years OCAST has provided research funding in excess of $199 million to Oklahoma researchers. As a state agency funded by taxpayer dollars, it is our responsibility to be good stewards of those dollars. To fulfill our obligation, OCAST has created an extensive audit process to ensure the appropriate use of contract funds. The purpose is not punitive in nature and there is no intent to create an atmosphere of conflict or an adversarial relationship with the client. Rather, the audit process allows us to partner with our research clients to 1) better communicate contract requirements, 2) assist in improving the client’s operational efficiency, and 3) effectively improve the client’s management of their contract compliance responsibilities.
Contract Compliance Quick Fact
OCAST requires the submission of a progress report at the end of each contract year of a funding award. OCAST may not fund a subsequent contract of a multi-year award until after the current contract receives a satisfactory evaluation of the investigator’s progress report. If the progress report is submitted late, there may be a chance that funding for a subsequent year of the award may be delayed, potentially causing a gap in funding.
Remember: Annual progress reports are due sixty (60) days prior to the ending date of each contract period, except for the final contract period. Final progress reports must be submitted to OCAST no more than thirty (30) days after the ending date of the final contract.
For more information on Post Award Kick-Off Meetings, Contract Compliance Audits or Contract Compliance Quick Facts, contact Brad Sutherlin, 405-319-8413 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
||FY11 Oklahoma Nanotechnology Applications Project application deadline
||Oklahoma Health Research Conference
||Oklahoma Science & Technology Month
||OCAST Board of Directors Meeting
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INNOVATIONS IN HISTORY
In March of 1947, chemist Willard Libby discovered that the element called carbon-14 could be used to estimate the age of objects. Since all living things contain carbon-14 and begin to lose the element after they die, Libby determined that measuring the amount of carbon-14 in a fossil could give its age. His method, called radiocarbon dating or carbon-14 dating, has been useful to scientists studying dinosaurs, ancient man and the history of the earth.
If you have received an OCAST award, what suggestions do you have for OCAST to help make navigating the contract compliance process easier for you to follow (i.e. progress reports, invoice submissions, modification requests)? Click here to answer
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