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The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Cluster Initiative (UASCI) has recently launched a new Private Industry Advisory Council and appointed Vigilant Aerospace Systems CEO Kraettli L. Epperson and Dr. Jamey Jacob, Director of Oklahoma State University’s Unmanned Systems Research Institute, as co-chairs of the council.

First meeting of a few members of the UAS Cluster Initiative Advisory Council

“We think of the SBA’s UAS Cluster Initiative as a fantastic resource for entrepreneurs, startup companies, and growing organizations in the UAS industry, providing opportunities for networking, mentoring and fundraising from some of the leading thought leaders in the nation,” said Epperson. “We look forward to working with the Advisory Council and other professionals from the Cluster to foster growth by helping to organize and sponsor valuable events, webinars, and workshops.”

“As co-chair, I am also seeking additional members and a diverse advisory team, so we invite nomination of industry leaders by contacting the UASCI or Vigilant Aerospace,” said Epperson. Contact the UASCI here.

Members of the Advisory Council currently include both regional and national industry leaders:

The goals of the UAS Cluster Initiative are to support the growth of sustainable UAS companies, products, and jobs in the U.S. and especially in Oklahoma and Kansas. The UASCI aims to develop a network of private and public stakeholders who exchange knowledge, promote the industry, train and mentor small businesses, and make the connections required to develop a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The UAS Cluster Initiative’s current focus is to facilitate access to critical resources for young UAS companies, assisting to promote their products to potential customers, license technologies and access financing. The UASCI has announced a new “Growth Phase” to focus on five priority activities to develop the industry:

  1. Training and Knowledge Exchange
  2. Mentoring for Small Businesses
  3. Technology Transfer
  4. Business Counseling and Consulting
  5. Facilitating Access to Capital.

Read the recent announcement from the UAS Cluster Initiative on appointment of a new Executive Director and the Advisory Council: “UAS Cluster Initiative and DronePort Network announce new Executive Director”

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit

About the UAS Cluster Initiative

The UAS Cluster Initiative is a collaboration funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and managed by Development Capital Networks (DCN), with support from the Oklahoma UAS Council and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. It is focused on accelerating the growth of the Unmanned Aerial System industry in the U.S. by enabling established companies and emerging entrepreneurs in Oklahoma and Kansas to connect, work together, and gain access to national technology, global capital, advanced business models and global markets. For more information, visit

About Vigilant Aerospace

FlightHorizon logo_VigilantAerospace SystemsVigilant Aerospace is the leading developer of detect-and-avoid and airspace management software for uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS or drones). The company’s product, FlightHorizon, is based on two NASA patents and uses data from multiple sources to display a real-time picture of the air traffic around a UAS and to provide automatic avoidance maneuvers to prevent collisions. The software is designed to meet industry technical standards, to provide automatic safety and to allow UAS to safely fly beyond the sight of the pilot. The software has won multiple industry awards and the company has had contracts and users at NASA, the FAA, the U.S. Department of Defense and with a variety of drone development programs. The company has offices in Oklahoma City and Fargo, North Dakota.


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