OK Catalyst was founded in 2017 as part of the Tom Love Innovation Hub (I-Hub) at the University of Oklahoma. The I-Hub connects academia, research, industry, and government to drive innovation and ignite Oklahoma's economy. The mission of the I-Hub is to:
1) Build a culture across OU and Oklahoma that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, and
2) Launch, support, and grow more OU and Oklahoma-based startups.
We believe that small businesses launching hi-tech companies are our best bet for solving many of the challenges facing Oklahoma and the nation. OK Catalyst utilizes a comprehensive approach to inspire, guide, launch, and grow startups through the SBIR/STTR programs.
Tom Wavering, Executive Director
Mr. Wavering joined the University of Oklahoma in September 2016 as the founding Executive Director of the I-Hub with the mission to increase innovation and entrepreneurship across Oklahoma through a mix of resources, programs, services, and collaborations. As a national expert in the federal SBIR program, Mr. Wavering founded and leads the I-Hub’s OK Catalyst program which provides statewide SBIR-related networking, training, and mentoring efforts. In 2019, Wavering joined the faculty of the Price College of Business, creating and teaching the course “Entrepreneurship for Science and Technology.” Prior to OU, Mr. Wavering had 18 years of experience in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies through various technical and executive leadership roles with Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI) in Rockville, MD and Luna Innovations in Blacksburg, VA and Charlottesville, VA.
Daniel Moses, Director
Daniel is the founding Director of OK Catalyst and is responsible for the planning and execution of all programs and activities. Prior to this role, Daniel was a Program Manager for the internationally recognized Tom Love Center for Entrepreneurship at OU. In this role, Daniel designed and launched the Sooner Innovation Fund: an endowed $1,250,000 early-stage proof-of-concept program that gives OU students up to $5,000 and provides mentorship and training on market validation. Daniel comes from a family of entrepreneurs and co-founded/managed a small business in college that became profitable within two years of opening. Daniel graduated from the OU College of International Studies with a Master of Arts in International Studies with an emphasis in economic development. Daniel is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and was able to access higher education thanks to the Gates-Millennium Scholarship.
Sarah Hamby, Oklahoma City Associate
Sarah is responsible for planning and executing various programs including OK Catalyst Researchers and the NASA and DoD SBIR Accelerators. Sarah also leads OK Catalyst's brand and marketing initiatives including website and courseware design and social media management. Prior to joining the team, Sarah served for over ten years in the U.S. Air Force culminating at Tinker AFB as the Director of Operations Training for two combat-coded Air Control Squadrons and two Qualification Training Squadrons. Sarah is a native of the Finger Lakes Region of New York State and graduated with an MBA from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.
Maya Nkouka, Tulsa Associate
Maya leads the SBIR training and outreach efforts in Tulsa and the surrounding areas. Most recently, Maya led the development and execution of the first all-virtual SBIR Accelerator in the nation. Before joining the OK Catalyst team, Maya supported the US Department of Veterans Affairs by helping veteran entrepreneurs become qualified for the Vets First Verification Program. Once part of this program, veterans had a unique opportunity to bid on VA set-aside contracts. Maya graduated with a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law.
Anita Ly, NIH SBIR Accelerator GA
Anita is responsible for planning and executing the NIH Accelerator, designed to help clients win NIH SBIR funding. Prior to this role, Anita was the OK-WISE Conference Coordinator, overseeing the development and growth of the event. During this time, she helped raise over $20,000 in sponsorships, invited 62 local and national speakers, and successfully executed two 350+ attendee conferences. Before coming to Oklahoma for further education, Anita was an Associate Scientist at AbbVie Biotherapeutics in her home state of California. Anita is currently an MBA Candidate with the Price College of Business at OU, a Price Scholar Awardee, and is also pursuing her M.Sc. in Biochemistry. She plans to utilize her MBA, M.Sc., and her experiences with the OK Catalyst Programs to start her own pharmaceutical someday.
Paige Holzer, Marketing Communications and Design Coordinator
Paige is a junior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Visual Communication. Paige is responsible for the design and publication of social media posts and various print and digital design materials. She has a strong history in studio art, and is also the treasurer of the OU Graphic Design Association. Upon graduation in 2022, Paige plans to pursue a career in graphic design.
Khady Ndoye, Business Analyst
Khady is a junior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Management Information Systems. She is also doing an accelerated MS MIT with a focus on data analytics. She is responsible for researching potential markets and creating written reports for OK Catalyst clients. Upon graduation in 2022, Khady wants to pursue a career in data science.
Our Funding Partners
OK Catalyst is a 100% grant-funded organization. Primary sponsors include the US Small Business Administration, the Economic Development Agency, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, and the Oklahoma Business Roundtable.