The George Kaiser Family Foundation is commiting $50 million to a project that aims to turn Tulsa into a tech hub.
Tulsa Innovation Labs announced Wednesday it has narrowed it down to five areas of focus for the city’s tech niche: virtual health, energy tech, drones, cybersecurity and analytics. Co-founder and Managing Director Nicholas Lalla said Tulsa has existing assets in each of those areas, so nothing needs to be built from scratch.
"In the energy tech, certainly, Tulsa is known for for their oil and gas companies, and I think all of the oil and gas companies recognize the need to innovate to become more sustainable," Lalla said.
Lalla said COVID-19 has helped them prioritize where to start working.
"The pandemic played an important role in surfacing virtual health to the fore, really accelerated trends that we were already seeing, and then cyber and analytics, because of market disruptions, a lot of workers have been displaced and we want to provide new opportunities for Tulsans to reskill themselves and get new jobs," Lalla said.
Tulsa Innovation Labs is already working with local universities and San Francisco–based software engineering academy the Holberton School on early steps.
Note: The George Kaiser Family Foundation is a financial supporter of Public Radio Tulsa.