The Oklahoma-Arkansas region has announced plans to develop the Oklahoma-Arkansas region as a national hub for advanced mobility (AM) with the support of partners Tulsa Innovation labs and Runway Group. The collaborative effort to support the growth of the AM industry, including drones, electric and autonomous vehicles, battery manufacturing, and transportation and logistics solutions, will create new research and testing space, support local AM startups, attract new companies, and convene industry corporations to test and scale new technologies.
In February 2022, Governor Hutchinson launched the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility, laying the groundwork for this new bi-state AM initiative. The council is chaired by aviator, investor and entrepreneur, Cyrus Sigari, considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the future of mobility.
The announcement of this new cross border initiative follows the recent UP.Summit – dubbed the “Davos of mobility” – held June 6 – 8 in Bentonville Ark.. The annual gathering convenes the world’s top investors, executives, startups, and founders to discuss everything from battery-electric and autonomous aircraft, drones, electric and autonomous ground vehicles, and groundbreaking space technologies. The UP.Summit is co-hosted by mobility focused venture capital firm UP.Partners, Tom and Steuart Walton, and Ross Perot Jr.
Joining together at the Helmerich Research Center at Oklahoma State University Governors Stitt and Hutchinson signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to initiate the partnership. Highlights of this joint effort include:
- Partnering with Tulsa Innovation Labs to establish a “Launch Pad” at the Helmerich Research Center at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa to fuel research and commercialization to drive innovation to market and establish home-grown advanced mobility technologies, a complement to the recent “smart mobility” planning grant given to the University of Arkansas.
- Building collaborative programming across the region’s unique urban-rural geographic assets such as FISTA Innovation Park in Lawton, Thaden Fieldhouse in Arkansas, and a 110 Nautical-Mile Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) corridor for testing and research currently under development in the Tulsa Region for unmanned aerial vehicles.
- Convening industry leaders such as Walmart, QuikTrip, and J.B. Hunt to pilot emerging technologies.
- Tapping institutions such Tulsa Community College, NWA Community College and Holberton School Tulsa to create accessible workforce development opportunities and a diverse AM talent pool across the region.
- Coordinating efforts across existing AM-focused economic development efforts, including Oklahoma Aerospace, Autonomous Systems and Defense Council and the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility.
The effort will also leverage the region’s rich ecosystem of academic and research partners, such as Oklahoma State University-Tulsa Helmerich Research Center, University of Oklahoma’s National Weather Center and Advanced Radar Center, University of Arkansas, Southern Arkansas University Tech, University of Tulsa and military installations Fort Sill and Tinker Air Force Base to build on their experience in the development of sensors, propulsion technology, hydrogen, and battery technologies.
Already underway within the super-region is a joint collaboration being led by Tulsa Innovation Labs, Northwest Arkansas Council, and Runway Group with support from the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation to establish the “412 Corridor” as an Advanced Mobility hub further connecting the two geographies.
“Oklahoma has a legacy of leadership in aerospace, and I am thrilled with the innovation we are seeing in research and development in autonomous systems and advanced air mobility. I am proud of the work being done by our Aerospace and Autonomous Systems Council, our universities, corporations, and entrepreneurs around our great state in advanced mobility technologies. This partnership gives us the momentum we need for this region to lead the nation into the future of mobility,” said Governor Stitt.
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