State energy companies Williams, ONEOK and Devon Energy, along with venture capital firm Energy Innovation Capital (EIC) and tech-focused nonprofit Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL) are collaborating to transform the area into a hub for energy technology startups.
Spearheaded by EIC, the initiative seeks to attract energy technology startups to the region with access to resources that include free office space and custom startup support services. EIC also provides access to early-stage capital with a $50 million fund and assists startups to pilot forward-looking technologies with founding corporate partners Williams and ONEOK, both of which are headquartered in Tulsa, and Devon Energy, based in Oklahoma City.
By boosting research and development and innovation, the project is expected to create more than 1,700 jobs across the energy industry over the next five to 10 years, advocates say.
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“The EIC team has a proven track record in investing and helping build energy tech startups, including market leaders in solar, wind, grid management and the sustainability of traditional energy that represent more than $20 billion in market value in aggregate,” Kevin Skillern, managing partner at EIC, said in a statement. “We’re honored for the opportunity to build an energy tech ecosystem that spurs the creation of new, disruptive companies.”
This collaboration will include the following:
EIC Rose Rock: This is a targeted $50 million fund to lead Seed and Series A rounds for early-stage energy technology companies. Initial investors, which include the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Devon Energy, ONEOK and Williams, already have committed $30 million, which will be supplemented by national and regional investors. Energy Innovation Capital is headquartered in San Francisco but also has offices in Houston.
EIC Fusion: A program offering energy corporations support to supercharge their innovation agendas, EIC Fusion works with corporations to identify strategic areas of focus for each firm and connects them with leading startups developing solutions aligned with their R&D needs. The program is operated by EIC, and Devon Energy, ONEOK and Williams will leverage it to support their corporate innovation agendas.
Rose Rock Bridge: An energy technology incubator program developed by TIL, it will provide support to early-stage energy technology companies including up to $100,000 of nondilutive capital, office space and services to accelerate commercialization. Rose Rock Bridge has $10 million in funding over the next five years.
Rose Rock Bridge has begun accepting applications from companies, and qualifying companies will be accepted on a rolling basis. To learn more, 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,” Trey Lowe, vice president and chief technology officer, Devon Energy, said in a statement. “We are excited to foster and expedite groundbreaking solutions to positively impact lives everywhere and know that disruption and continuous improvement are necessary to meet growing energy demands while reducing environmental impact.”
Greg Lusardi is senior vice president, corporate development of ONEOK.
“Our expansive energy infrastructure and midstream operating expertise position us well to play a vital role in a sustainable and transforming 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 renewable energy and low-carbon investment opportunities that contribute to long-term growth, profitability and business diversification.”
Chad Zamarin is senior vice president, corporate strategic development, at Williams.
“Williams is committed to delivering the next generation of energy by leveraging our natural gas and emerging energy infrastructure together with new technologies that help our customers achieve their decarbonization goals,” he said in a statement. “Establishing this fund, together with like-minded peers, the George Kaiser Family Foundation and EIC, is a catalyst to accelerate the innovations that will enable our nation to continue meeting 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 tech hub in Tulsa. TIL identified the opportunity for the region to meet the country’s energy needs over the coming years by investing in a diverse 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 tech research and commercialization,” Nicholas Lalla, managing director of Tulsa Innovation Labs, said in a statement. “By diversifying investments in the industry, we will be able to diversify and future-proof energy job opportunities in Tulsa.”