Read Part I of the Executive Q&A with Dr. Stephen Prescott, President of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, here.
Q. What kind of future do you see for science and technology in Oklahoma?
A. I think there is a bright future for science and technology here in our state and in Oklahoma City. I mean the new GE global research center is just two blocks away from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and we’re thrilled. Sometimes people ask me, “well, is that good for you? Is that competitive?” Well it’s wonderful for us. We don’t do oil and gas research but the idea that there are going to be a lot of talented, dedicated people working on technical problems, STEM issues is really good for us – the more the merrier.
Q. What does Oklahoma have to offer start-ups and investors?
A. Investors all over the country are being much more careful about how they invest and at what rate they invest in start-up companies. So I would argue that for the idea of being really careful with your capital and how can you go the farthest with it with the initial funding the company has, this is a wonderful place to consider. The costs of starting a business are quite appealing here the environment is tremendously supportive people want you to succeed they want you to put your business here and they want to help you in any way they can, the state or the city, everybody is trying to help and you can do it at a cost that is much more likely to get you to a point of success in the company.
Q. How is Oklahoma’s central location a benefit to biotech companies?
A. Of course, you know, one of the criticisms of Oklahoma is that we are in fly-over country. We are not on the glamorous coasts. I find that appealing actually. I have a lot of work to do on each coast so paradoxically for me living in the center of the country is actually superior. I have short flights to either Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego. It makes it quite nice as opposed to transcontinental flights once a week. Our scientists serve on committees and advisory boards participate in conferences and events so all over the country all over the world and we don’t have any problem getting there.
Q. How does OMRF collaborate with other organizations in the state?
A. We have collaborations with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, with the scientists at the University of Oklahoma’s main campus in Norman, with the Oklahoma State University scientists in Stillwater. We have a number of collaborations in Tulsa either at Tulsa University or the University of Oklahoma’s Tulsa campus. It actually works very well to to have those collaborations. There is a wonderful environment in our world of biotechnology type of science in Oklahoma and it’s, of course, crucial to have a large number of those types of individuals around because you never know where ideas are going to come from.
Q. What is the business environment like in Oklahoma?
A. I think that the relationship that the state wide government and even in all the cities and counties I deal with is a positive one. There is wide spread recognition that our state won’t thrive without successful businesses. There is not antagonism between the people who govern and the people who run businesses because there is a very nice synergy, a collaboration. Do we need successful businesses? Yes, and my experience has been that local government will try to help with that. I have found it really refreshing and very positive here as far as how people deal with issues and potential conflicts. People find ways to work together and to be supportive in businesses.