MRO Magazine

Navigating Oklahoma’s Newest Industry at the WBT Open Innovation Forum: Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

September 8, 2015
By Business Wire News


With unmanned aerial systems now in rapid development stages, international industry experts and leaders will gather Sept. 28-29 in Stillwater for the second consecutive year to explore today’s UAS economic opportunities.

The two-day event at the Wes Watkins Center on the Oklahoma State University campus will showcase the latest UAS technology from research institutions and startups seeking partnerships to license, sell and develop their innovations. Industry leaders will give insight into where the industry is headed, how communities are building development hubs, the mindset of capital investors and the state of public policy and regulations.

When the first WBT Open Innovation Forum was held a year ago, unmanned aerials for the general public may have seemed something in the future. Since, news reports and purchases nationally as well as in Oklahoma, have brought them into the mainstream. This second-year event again will bring industry developers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists together to explore the very real business possibilities in today’s global market.

“Unmanned aircraft will produce profound benefits to mankind on a global scale,” said John Walker, chief executive of the Padina Group Inc. and a major advocate for the UAS industry who will be a featured forum speaker.

Walker is the Federal Aviation Administration’s former program director of airspace management. Now chief executive of an aerospace consulting company, Walker sees unmanned aerials as offering geopolitical stability and improved quality of life.

More than a dozen industry leaders will be featured on the Sept. 29 agenda, with networking opportunities the evening before as well as following the event. Featured presenters also include:

  • Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma’s secretary of science and technology as well as the former vice president for research and technology transfer at Oklahoma State. McKeever believes Oklahoma has the potential to become a world leader in the unmanned aerial industry.
  • Shawn Bullard, president of the Duetto Group LLC and a Capitol Hill-based government relations strategist, consultant and lobbyist specializing in public policy impacting innovative and disruptive technologies. His luncheon presentation will focus on what’s working and what’s on the horizon in public policy.
  • Venture capitalists Michael A. Tharp, managing director of Cimarron Capital Partners; Carter Williams, president, chief executive and investment committee for iSelect Fund Management LLC; James P. Hughey, managing partner of NEXA Capital Partners Inc.; and Rick Nagel, managing partner of Acorn Growth Equities.

“The areas of the country where this industry will be centered will be those that can provide the necessary support — technological, intellectual and business — to enable small businesses to grow around this technology sector. This workshop will discuss these issues and the progress that is making Oklahoma one of those centers,” McKeever said.

Event hosts are the City of Stillwater, Oklahoma State University and the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. Sponsors are the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce; the Oklahoma Business Roundtable; Development Capital Networks; Cowboy Technology Angels; Cowboy Technologies LLC; the Meridian Technology Center; Electronics Valley; Enid Regional Development Alliance; Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR; and the city of Ponca City.

For more information about the event and registration, visit

About WBT Open Innovation Forum™

A product of Development Capital Networks LLC, WBT Open Innovation Forum(WBToi) is a full-day event hosted by regional economic development organizations. WBToi introduces the concepts and methods of Open Innovation to local companies with a focus on an existing or emerging sector of strength within the region. More about WBToi-Unmanned Aerial Systems at

About Development Capital Networks LLC

For more than 20 years, the team at Development Capital Networks (DCN) has provided specialized products, management and training to development associations and entrepreneurial networks. Its sector expertise includes regional economic development, technology transfer, development finance, entrepreneurship, venture capital and capital formation. More about DCN at

WBT Open Innovation Forum
Gypsy Hogan, 405-831-7183
Ryan Aasheim, 701-499-6994