State-owned energy companies Williams, ONEOK and Devon Energy, along with venture capital firm Energy Innovation Capital (EIC) and technology-focused nonprofit Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL) are collaborating to transform the area into a center for new energy technology companies.
Spearheaded by EIC, the initiative seeks to attract energy technology startups to the region with access to resources including free office space and personalized startup support services. EIC also provides access to seed capital with a $50 million fund and helps startups test future technologies with founding corporate partners Williams and ONEOK, both based in Tulsa, and Devon Energy, based in Tulsa. Oklahoma.
By driving research, development and innovation, the project is expected to create more than 1,700 jobs in the energy industry over the next five to 10 years, advocates say.
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“The EIC team has a proven track record of investing in and helping build energy technology startups, including market leaders in solar, wind, grid management and the sustainability of traditional energy representing more than $20 billion in market value as a whole,” Kevin Skillern, managing partner of EIC, said in a statement. “We are honored by the opportunity to build an energy technology ecosystem that stimulates the creation of new disruptive companies.”
This collaboration will include the following:
Pink Rock EIC: This is a $50 million targeted fund to lead Seed and Series A rounds for early-stage energy technology companies. Initial investors, including the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Devon Energy, ONEOK and Williams, have already committed $30 million, to be supplemented by national and regional investors. Energy Innovation Capital is based in San Francisco, but also has offices in Houston.
EIC Fusion: A program that offers support to energy corporations to advance their innovation agendas, EIC Fusion works with corporations to identify strategic areas of focus for each company and connects them with leading startups developing solutions aligned with their R&D needs. The program is operated by EIC, and will be leveraged by Devon Energy, ONEOK and Williams to support their corporate innovation agendas.
Pink Rock Bridge: An energy technology incubator program developed by TIL, will provide support to early-stage energy technology companies, including up to $100,000 of non-dilutive capital, office space and services to accelerate time to market. Rose Rock Bridge has $10 million in funding for the next five years.
Rose Rock Bridge has begun accepting business applications, and qualifying businesses will be accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, visit roserockbridge.org.
“The Rose Rock initiative will give Devon and our partners direct access to advanced technologies and creative talent right here in Oklahoma,” said Trey Lowe, vice president and chief technology officer for Devon Energy, in a statement. “We are excited to foster and accelerate innovative solutions to positively impact lives everywhere and we know that disruption and continuous improvement are necessary to meet growing energy demands while reducing environmental impact.”
Greg Lusardi is Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for ONEOK.
“Our expansive energy infrastructure and intermediate operating experience position us well to play a vital role in a transformational and sustainable energy future,” Lusardi said in a statement. “Working with our fellow energy companies, EIC and the George Kaiser Family Foundation is a good fit, as ONEOK’s long-term business strategy includes potential low-carbon and renewable energy investment opportunities that contribute to growth, long-term profitability and business diversification”.
Chad Zamarin is Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategic Development at Williams.
“Williams is committed to delivering the next generation of power by leveraging our emerging energy and natural gas infrastructure along with new technologies that help our customers achieve their decarbonization goals,” it said in a statement. “Establishing this fund, along with like-minded colleagues, the George Kaiser Family Foundation and EIC, is a catalyst for accelerating innovations that will allow our nation to continue to meet society’s growing demand for clean energy.”
The initiative was conceived by TIL, an organization founded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation to build a technology center in Tulsa. TIL identified the opportunity for the region to meet the country’s energy needs in the coming years by investing in a wide range of emerging energy technologies.
“Tulsa has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage its energy assets and position itself as a hub for energy technology research and commercialization,” said Nicholas Lalla, managing director of Tulsa Innovation Labs, in a statement. “By diversifying investments in the industry, we will be able to diversify and prepare energy job opportunities for the future in Tulsa.”