Tulsa Hub for Equitable & Trustworthy Autonomy (THETA)

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Lead Agency: Tulsa Innovation Labs

State Served: Oklahoma

Applicant-Defined Region: Greater Tulsa Region

Core Technology Area: secure autonomous systems

Contact: Jennifer Hankins ([email protected])

Media Contact: Ashley Lengen ([email protected])

The Tulsa Hub for Equitable & Trustworthy Autonomy (THETA Tech Hub), led by Tulsa Innovation Labs, aims to become a global leader in developing and commercializing autonomous systems for use cases ranging from agriculture and pipeline inspections to regional transportation. Leveraging the Greater Tulsa Region’s university-based research institutes in uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) and cybersecurity technologies; the Skyway Range flight corridor testing facility; and existing capital investments, the THETA Tech Hub will develop and innovate autonomous systems applications while increasing their security and integrity. In doing so, the THETA Tech Hubs seeks to strengthen national and economic security while connecting small manufacturers across the region with opportunities in the autonomous systems supply chain.

The THETA Tech Hub seeks to be a hub for the development, testing, manufacturing of Trustworthy and Equitable Autonomous Systems (TEAS), with the goal that TEAS in use worldwide will bear the moniker “Tested and Made in Tulsa, USA.” By developing an industry-aligned workforce, expanding access to capital, and accelerating commercialization of TEAS innovations, THETA will leverage the longest drone flight testing corridor in the country developed alongside Tribal partners and a robust aerospace manufacturing industry primed for entry into the TEAS market.

This consortium’s proposal includes plans to:

  • Increase coordination on commercialization strategies among universities and develop a fellows program to attract top-tier commercialization-focused faculty;
  • Build a state-of-the-art testing and simulation environment–with a focus on cyber and data management–for companies, researchers and regulatory entities to address barriers to commercial adoption;
  • Establish a venture studio with prototyping facilities, an investor consortium and a pipeline of entrepreneurial talent focused on accelerating commercialization of TEAS technologies into viable startups;
  • Develop programs to identify opportunities for manufacturers in TEAS supply chains and build out a manufacturing demonstration center where small companies can scale their capabilities;
  • Create an AI Center of Excellence to expand opportunities and increase exposure to technology for underserved communities;
  • Expand workforce programs to align training with industry needs, provide upskilling, and offer on-the-job training opportunities; and
  • Establish governance structures to execute projects, pursue additional funding and drive the Hub’s strategy.

To ensure that the benefits of Tech Hubs investments accrue equitably across the Tulsa region, the THETA Tech Hub aims to provide wraparound support services, such as childcare and transportation, for every participant in its workforce programs; locate projects in underserved communities; and partner with organizations that represent Black communities and Tribal Nations.

This summary is based on information submitted by the applicants. If selected for funding, the final EDA-approved scope of work may differ.

Designee Narrative (PDF)

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