President/CEO for Innovation District Named

The Oklahoma Health Center Foundation has announced that Katy Evans Boren has been selected to lead Oklahoma City’s innovation district efforts as President and CEO.

Oklahoma City’s innovation district represents a concentration of the region’s innovation assets that offer the potential to spur economic growth and civic vitality where innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and placemaking intersect.

In this newly created position, the CEO will create, identify and lead strategies in which anchor institutions, firms, and civic leaders rally stakeholders to engage with their time, expertise, and resources to support the innovation district’s vision to create a dynamic, inclusive innovation hub.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Katy Boren’s caliber to lead this effort” said David Harlow, chairman of the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation. “This is essentially a start-up enterprise and she brings a blend of business experience, legal and entrepreneurial know-how, and management and governance expertise that are vital to creating a new entity and putting in place successful strategies for the future."

The Oklahoma Health Center Foundation is serving as the governance entity for the district’s efforts and is joined by the founding participants of the project: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, Presbyterian Health Foundation, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority, in the implementation of the project plan.

The project plan was the result of a study completed by the Brookings Institution and the Project for Public Spaces that looked at the potential growth of jobs and innovation in and around a study area loosely defined as the Oklahoma Health Center and Automobile Alley.

Boren is a native Oklahoman. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Denver in 1992 and her law degree from the University of Oklahoma three years later. She has practiced law in private firms, state agencies and served as Regional Vice President of Cox Communications. She most recently held the position of Chief of the Utilities Regulation Unit in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. In these positions, she gained valuable leadership experience developing and executing strategic initiatives, creating collaborative solutions and managing people and process.

Steve Prescott, MD, CEO of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and a founding partner for the entity, was enthusiastic about Boren’s leadership. “We were fortunate to find someone with enormous personal capacity to accomplish our very aggressive goals,” he said. “The task of standing up the formal organization, branding the district and creating the programs and activities that will ensure our success is monumental. Her track record of both public and private sector success make her an ideal candidate.”

The University of Oklahoma Health Science Center and the activity taking place there is a core asset of the innovation district. Jason Sanders, MD, MBA, Senior Vice President and Provost said that “OU is proud to be a partner in the new innovation district effort, and to work together with Katy to advance top-tier biomedical research, new drugs and technologies for patients, and economic growth for our community."

Both Harlow and Prescott reiterated the enormous potential of the area. “We have such a unique situation here because of our ability to merge these three high tech industries of health, energy and aerospace,” said Prescott. “We already see connections forming and this work will accelerate that process.” Harlow is ready to get started. “Oklahoma City has set the stage,” he said. “We have an environment for success, a legacy of collaboration, a plan of action and now the right leader to move us forward.”

Boren begins her work on July 9.

About the OKC innovation district

OKC's emerging innovation district currently encompasses about 1.3 square miles east of downtown -- roughly between NE 13-16th Streets to the north and NE 4th to the south and Robinson and Lottie Avenues to the west and east. It crosses Broadway/Interstate 235 and includes Automobile Alley in addition to numerous institutions located within the boundaries. 

The Brookings Institution and Project for Public Spaces have recently completed an 18-month study of Oklahoma City’s emerging innovation district, an area encompassing the Oklahoma Health Center and Automobile Alley. This work, which will focus on the district’s economic strengths and quality of place, is part of the Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking, a joint initiative the two organizations launched in late 2015.

Read the report and recommendations.


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Why an innovation district?

This thriving area surrounding the Oklahoma Health Center is ripe for new development and has demonstrated success in incubating startup businesses. The city’s bioscience sector that has clustered in that area offers a strong anchor point for future development, and Oklahoma City already has shown its ability to work together to re-imagine some of its urban areas.

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Our partners

This in-depth study of Oklahoma City's emerging innovation district is part of the newly created Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking at Brookings. It is funded through a partnership of community organizations that include: 

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