Bill would encourage business development, industry research

The Oklahoma Research and Development Act proposes to provide matching grants for companies that locate in Oklahoma to partner with research universities or nonprofit research institutions on projects to foster development of key industries in the state. (Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation designed to encourage small businesses to locate in Oklahoma to advance research into areas like energy diversification has gained traction at the Capitol. 

If passed into law, House Bill 4354, referred to as the Oklahoma Research and Development Act, would direct the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) to provide matching grants for eligible companies. The companies would then partner in projects with research universities or nonprofit research institutions in the state to foster development of key industries. 

The measure was authored by Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, and Sen. Chris Kidd, R-Waurika. 

Currently, OCAST’s highly competitive awards only go to companies within the state, Kidd said. 

“This bill would set aside a pool of funds specifically for companies who choose to relocate here and want to perform research and development with our great research institutions,” he said. 

As the program is outlined in legislation, matching grants could be awarded to a business to cover up to 50% of the cost of a research project, not to exceed $100,000. To be eligible, a business would have to: 

  • Be Oklahoma-based with fewer than 100 employees; 
  • Operate in aerospace and autonomous systems, life sciences, or energy diversification; 
  • Partner with an Oklahoma-based research entity; 
  • Conduct its research and development project within Oklahoma; and 
  • File an application with OCAST showing the total cost of a project and demonstrating private capital to fund at least 50% of the cost. 

Hill said HB 4354 would help to diversify the Sooner State economy while at the same time encourage small businesses to settle in the state. 

“With legislation like this focusing on economic development, we can move Oklahoma forward and provide better futures for our citizens,” he said. 

The bill, already passed in the Senate, was returned to the House for final consideration. 

“As we continue working to diversify our economy, this type of sponsored research will help us stay competitive with other states and attract more research companies to Oklahoma,” Kidd said.

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