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Senator Announces Higher Education/Economic Development Program

OKLAHOMA CITY - "The future of our state hinges on the excellence of our educational system, " commented Senator Cal Hobson, who announced legislative efforts are underway to boost higher education's contribution to Oklahoma's economy.

The Senate Appropriations Vice-Chairman today discussed various proposals being considered, including more fellowships for graduate students, and additional investments and statutory changes to enhance technology and economic development as a result of research at state facilities.

"We have not fully realized the potential for economic development that exists within our state's two comprehensive universities," explained Hobson.

"Yet we know for a fact that the states with the highest per capita incomes as well as those states with the highest paying jobs have two things in common; a more highly educated work force, and excellence in graduate education and research in their higher education systems," said Hobson.

Among the specific higher education proposals being discussed:

  • Creation of an Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Exchange at O.U. and O.S.U. to assist in identifying, patenting and marketing inventions.

  • Grant program to assist in preparation for marketing and early state venture capital support of commercial opportunities.

  • A review of the research support that currently flows through the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology to O.U. and O.S.U. to improve its focus and chances for commercial success.

  • Modification of current barriers, constitutional, statutory, or regulatory, to the commercialization of patentable ideas and inventions developed at state universities. Allow those institutions to negotiate licenses, royalty agreements, equity ownership and other forms of participation in ventures resulting from academic research.

  • Additional funding for graduate stipends or assistantships in select academic areas with high potential.

  • Funding for recruitment and hiring of "research stars" in areas of greatest economic and scholastic promise.

"These key investments and statutory changes are critical to help us tap into the potential our higher education represents to Oklahoma's economic development," said Hobson.

"We have made substantial improvements in our state's higher education system in recent years. But we can, and must do more. If we do, Oklahoma will see the benefits for years and years to come, with greater prosperity and an enhanced quality of life that will be the envy of the nation," said Senator Hobson.

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Malia Katherine Bennett, Media Specialist, (405) 521-5774