OU President sees people as a major reason for Innovation District growth
University of Oklahoma President James Gallogly identified what he feels is the one big thing that could help fuel the Innovation District’s growth.
Speaking at last month’s Greater Oklahoma City Chamber annual Health Center Breakfast, Gallogly said there needs to be an update to the state’s laws regarding intellectual property development on university campuses.
Currently, a private company can fund research at a university campus. But the campus is state-owned, so the intellectual development is also state-owned. The only body that can sell state property is the State Legislature. While the university can lease the intellectual development back to the company, the company effectively pays twice for research, making it expensive.
Gallogly said there needs to be a fairer formula for university-based research. At OU, for every $1 it invests in research and development, it’s had $2 in revenue.
“If you get results, pretty soon people want to invest in that, and we plan to get results,” he said.
Gallogly also said OU’s work in the district will be to invest in human capital. The university has spent a lot of money on brick-and-mortar, creating place. Now, it’s time to invest in people.
“When you bring in the right people, put them in the right environment and help them feel supportive, they achieve great things,” Gallogly said. “We're going from bricks and mortar to investing in human capital. It isn't just about place. It's hugely important about people. As we expand the economy of our state, we have to bring some of those people into our state. And we need to free scientists to go do what you want to do instead of just keeping them in the classroom.”
Gallogly has said repeatedly since taking office July 1 that OU lacks vital research needed to bolster its reputation and the state's economy.
"Today our research component is not close to where it needs to be. It needs to double, and frankly, it needs to triple," he said. "We'll take it a step at a time. But that is so incredibly important."
Gallogly said he is talking with legislators about the concept of state funding for research as opportunities "to bring in new dollars to our state and have high impact."
He is also talking with executives from some of America’s top companies about corporate partnerships. Many said they approached OU in the past and "were told we don't do those kind of partnerships with companies," Gallogly said. "We do now."
"There are a number of other places where we should have that kind of partnership because those things drive the economy of the state," he said. "State universities that pay attention to that can absolutely change the economy if we invest properly in research."
Gallogly pointed out that work being done at the National Weather Center and Radar Innovations Laboratory is bringing in defense contracts and creating spinoff businesses in Oklahoma. OU research also is impacting the energy industry and cancer treatment.
"Oklahomans get things done whenever they decide it's important," he said. "We will only improve our reputation, and we will only drive the economy of the state of Oklahoma, and we will only be all we can be if we decide that research is important. We are looking at top scientists to bring in. People who will create new drugs. People who have new ideas. Those kind of people attract other people like that to our state."
Gallogly says there is a shortage of research scientists in the state.
"We need to bring in those best and brightest people to Oklahoma and let them help us. And by the way, they are not cheap. The people we brought in at the weather facility were not cheap, but they have been incredibly productive. And they brought reputation to our state, they've created jobs, brought in millions in federal grants. We need more of those types of investments."