OKC VeloCity | Catching up with the Innovation District: Symposium, events set stage for growth, MAPS 4 projects

Catching up with the Innovation District: Symposium, events set stage for growth, MAPS 4 projects

By Chamber Staff / Economy / March 5, 2020

MAPS 4 projects in the Innovation District are slated to include an Innovation Hall (modeled after District Hall in Boston) as well as the creation of the Henrietta B. Foster center for Northeast Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship and more. Conceptual renderings: Perkins + Will

Editor's note: As of 3-12, the annual Innovation District Symposium event has been postponed. Please see www.okcinnovation.com for info.


While myriad new physical projects are planned for the long-term future of OKC’s Innovation District with the results of December’s MAPS 4 election, plans and programming for the near term look to continue the positive momentum built by area stakeholders.

OKC Innovation District President & CEO Katy Boren delivers an address to the “Blockchain for Business” event at the Baker Hughes Energy Innovation Center last December.

The concept for the Innovation District, an area encompassing the Oklahoma Health Center campus and Automobile Alley, was first proposed as a result of a study by The Brookings Institution and the Project for Public Spaces. The purpose of the Innovation District is to capitalize on OKC’s dominant industries, investing in high-quality places where research institutions, firms and talent concentrate and connect.

To that end, the 2020 Innovation District Annual Symposium will be held April 14 at the Cox Convention Center. Innovation District Symposia focus on activities and research with potentially wide application to our health/biotech, energy, aerospace industries and others and, like the innovation District concept as a whole, look to bring representatives, research and employees from seemingly disparate industries and knowledge bases together to foster collaboration, ideas and more entrepreneurship. This year’s focus is on emerging autonomous systems technologies and the potential for Oklahoma to lead the nation in this area of technological growth. Themes of symposiums past have included sensor technology, “big data” and more.

“This year’s symposium continues moving us forward to being more competitive as a region when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Katy Boren, OKC Innovation District president and CEO. “Past symposia have borne immediate fruits when it comes to connecting researchers and innovators, and we expect even more of the same when it comes to autonomous systems.”

SPARK Happy Hours and Walk Over Wednesdays are a great ways to meet fellow Innovation District denizens and create potentially entrepreneurial connections.

The District also programs less formal networking events for District employees and residents, like the “Walk Over Wednesday” series held at the Beacon of Hope at Stiles Circle Park, featuring local favorite food trucks. The first Walk Over Wednesday of the year will be March 11 from 12 to 1.p.m. The popular “Spark: Innovation District Happy Hour” monthly events have returned as well for 2020, with the next event March 17 at Iguana Mexican Grill, followed by April 21 at Vanessa House Beer Company.

In addition, in partnership with Progress OKC, the District will hold a Community Career and Resource Expo on April 4 at Douglass High School. All education and career levels are encouraged to attend.
Get information on these events and more at okcinnovation.com.

Last month, the MAPS 4 citizen oversight committee structure was announced, with six subcommittees for particular focus areas. The projects in the Innovation District will have their own dedicated subcommittee to advise the larger MAPS 4 Citizens Advisory Board on the Henrietta B. Foster Center for Northeast Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship, Innovation Hall and area connectivity projects, as well as an operating fund.

“We encourage people interested in helping transform our innovation ecosystem to apply to serve on our subcommittee at okc.gov/maps4,” said Boren.

This article originally appeared in the March 2020 edition of The Point.


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