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Tulsa Tech Hub receives $51M, helps establish city as leader in tech

tulsa tech hub
Posted at 7:08 PM, Jul 02, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The Biden-Harris Administration awarded the Tulsa Hub for Equitable and Trustworthy Autonomy with about $51 million.

The funding comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

These dollars will create about 56,000 new jobs over the next ten years. Tulsa is one of 12 Tech Hubs to be awarded the funding after 200 regions applied for it.

"What this means for us is that Tulsa is now on a global scale," said Jennifer Hankins, Managing Director of Tulsa Innovation Labs, which leads the hub. "Together, we have positioned Tulsa on a trajectory of innovation and growth that will benefit all.”

Hankins said getting to this point was a year's effort. She and her team worked with more than 75 partners across the country to secure federal dollars.

We last told you about this in October 2023, when Tulsa was first designated as a Tech Hub:

Tulsa designated as Tech Hub

Tulsa has only been designated a tech hub for roughly nine months.

"Together, we have positioned Tulsa on a trajectory of innovation and growth that will benefit all," Hankins told her colleagues at a celebration following the announcement.

The Tulsa Hub for Equitable and Trustworthy Autonomy, or THETA Tech Hub, strives to be a global leader in autonomous systems.

With federal funding, the THETA hub will be able to invest in existing projects while expanding teaching and programs for the future.

Some dollars will even go back into their partners' hands, like Black Tech Street.

“We’ll be establishing a Greenwood AI Center of Excellence to establish Greenwood as the blueprint for building out responsible AI across the country, specifically towards autonomous systems," said Tyrance Billingsley II, the founder and Executive Director of BTS.

Because of this investment in Tulsa tech, about 56,000 new jobs will be created across the community.

“Tulsa Innovation Labs and especially this tech labs proposal, is about seeding an innovation economy, that doesn’t just happen overnight," said Hankins. "So we’re really investing in a ten year time horizon on a lot of these efforts.”

With so many goals for technological developments in the future, it's not lost on Hankins that what she and her team are building is just moving the work of prior generations forward.

"I think that’s the big crux of it is not getting too lost in the tech, and really think about how this is so deeply, firmly rooted in what we already do well as Tulsans," she said. “Everything about autonomous systems comes from our legacy roots in aerospace, manufacturing, defense, and energy. So what were really doing is using this opportunity to think forward in those industries, and make sure that the innovations that those industries continue to create are innovated here, kept here, stay here and grow here.”

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