By Craig Mahaney, Executive Director UAS Cluster Initiative
In this edition, Craig sits down with Jack James, Technology Commercialization Consultant, to discuss new programs to support the Oklahoma ecosystem.
Craig: Welcome Jack! Could you start off by telling everyone a little bit about yourself.
Jack: Well, I grew up in Del City, Oklahoma and attended Del City High School. I then attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) in Weatherford, graduating with degree in physics. It was through SWOSU alumni that I landed a job at NASA, Johnson Space Center (aka JSC) in Houston where I worked for 38 years. My early years at NASA were working in Space Shuttle Mission Operations Training for crew and mission control which gave me an extensive background on the interactions of flight systems and associated operations. Later, I joined the Technology Transfer and Commercialization office at Johnson Space Center where I spent 17 years in technology evaluation, intellectual property strategy, technology development, and Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR). As part of this I was also involved with the NASA, JSC Chief Technologist office, building knowledge of technology development and planning processes. During this time period, I also served for four years on Federal Laboratory Consortium executive board. The Federal Lab Consortium is a network of over 300 federal laboratories, agencies and research centers.
Craig: As a reminder to our readers, the Cluster’s mission is to grow the UAS entrepreneurial ecosystem in Oklahoma by providing resources, information, and knowledge to both entrepreneurs, and existing companies. During our growth phase, what are the key services that UASCI will provide for the UAS entrepreneurial ecosystem in Oklahoma?
Jack: The services can generally be organized into two types. The first will be individualized one-on-one mentoring and consulting services, with an emphasis on small business. Second, The Cluster will help organize informational and network development events for various audiences within the ecosystem.
Craig: Can you tell us more about the individualized, one-on-one services?
Jack: This is a free individualized service for small businesses designed to support companies in the business development cycle. We see this service as an integral part of building a healthy industry ecosystem. The companies may apply through a link on the UASCI website which will ask each responder to complete a short needs assessment. Based on that, we will identify which service would be the best fit. Those may include business mentoring or technology systems consulting, or both.
For mentoring, the company will be paired with experienced professionals who volunteer their time to guide the small business owner in identifying and resolving core issues related to their business based on the mentor’s professional experience.
For technology development consulting, UASCI will work with the small business to identify technology systems needs or opportunities and suggest strategies to acquire technologies, collaborate with labs, identify funding opportunities, and for testing and evaluation resources. Again, this is a free service to support young companies interested in guidance on how to achieve their growth objectives, particularly drone service providers and companies engaged in drone logistics, testing and flight services.
Craig: And can you talk more about the events we have planned
Jack: UASCI is planning 3 different types of events. There will be business-to-business Demo Days to connect drone service providers with customers, this will be a forum where drone service providers show potential customers and end users their products or services through live demos and presentations. This will also be an opportunity to explain the value of UAV services to industries and groups such as agriculture, energy, infrastructure and more.
UASCI is a part of Development Capital Networks which has extensive relationships with numerous national angel investor groups. For growing young companies in search of investment, the UAS Angel Network will be holding pitch sessions throughout the year. These events are nationally focused and will connect start-ups and investors from all over the U.S. in an effort to increase early-stage capital resources to the market.
For entrepreneurs or existing businesses looking for new opportunities there will be presentations of the latest technologies and research from Universities and Federal Labs, including NASA, DOD, Dept of Energy among others and from SBIR companies.
We will have a mixture of both in-person and virtual events. Sign up for our newsletter or watch the events section of our website for the latest updates.
Craig: Can you talk a little more about the newsletter and website?
Jack: Yes, both the newsletter and website will continue to evolve. We are looking to develop new content to support this ecosystem. On the website, we plan to provide information on UAS product testing and development at UAS test sites including SkyWay 36, Oklahoma State University, Choctaw UAS IPP, and Oklahoma Spaceport, as well as others within the state. Inside the newsletter we plan to include more interviews and insight from UAS industry thought leaders from around Oklahoma and the nation.
This is where we can use your suggestions and feedback on how to make these better, on what information you want to see, what technologies or facilities you want to hear about. Also, please tell us who you may want to hear from in an interview. You may send your suggestions to me at or through our Linkedin and Facebook pages.
Craig: And how should anyone connect and engage with UASCI
Jack: Again, through our website, uascluster.com. Sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already. If you are interested in our one-on-one services, you may find the sign-up form on our website. We will post our opportunities and events on that website as they are ready. We also want to encourage everyone to subscribe to both our Linkedin and Facebook page to stay aware of upcoming industry events. You can contact me at or Craig at .