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Manufacturing Innovation Summit, Maker Faire Set for Hub


In case you haven't heard, the Innovation Hub in Argenta is hosting the Arkansas Manufacturing Innovation Summit April 29-30 and a mini Maker Faire on May 2.

Innovate Arkansas is a sponsor of this first Maker Faire event in central Arkansas.

The summit, from Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (an ASTA program and also a Maker Faire sponsor), should provide the perfect lead in to the maker event. More on the summit here. A sample:

This two-day event is designed to bring the state's manufacturers and economic players together to discuss, share, and learn about cutting edge manufacturing innovations and technologies that can help grow revenue and jobs, increase productivity, improve quality, and add to your bottom line.

Register here.

And more on Maker Faire here. A sample:

The North Little Rock Mini Maker Faire is a one day exhibition of creative making. Think of North Little Rock Maker Faire as a local version of Maker Faire Bay Area or World Maker Faire New York, two yearly exhibitions organized by Make Magazine. North Little Rock Mini Maker Faire is one of over 100 “mini” faires around the globe, organized by local grassroots makers.

North Little Rock Mini Maker Faire will host exhibitors, vendors, workshop teachers, panelists and performers from around the region. The faire will take place at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, using its indoor space and the adjacent field.

Get your tickets here. Stay tuned; more to come...


Arkansas Startups Pitch at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week


A couple of Arkansas startups pitched during a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

Little Rock's makePaper and Jonesboro's eVest Web presented as part of the Delta Entrepreneurship Network from the Delta Regional Authority, which, by the way, is led by Arkansas' own Chris Masingill.

The startups made it to New Orleans as the top teams from the Jonesboro leg of the Delta Challenge, a pitch competition the DRA took through the Delta and Alabama Black Belt earlier this year.

Here's more from DRA:

Arkansas Startups Pitch National Venture Capital Firms as part of DRA’s Delta Entrepreneurship Network

Businesses participate in New Orleans Entrepreneur Week celebrating business and innovation

NEW ORLEANS, La. – Jonesboro-based eVest Web and Little Rock-based makePaper participated in a special segment of the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week where they met with investors and regional entrepreneurs as part of the Delta Regional Authority’s newly established program called the Delta Entrepreneurship Network. Company leadership pitched their ideas of a social network and forum for stock market investors and technology to connect major brands to younger customer bases through online competitions directly to investors from across the region and country as part of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week with the hopes of obtaining seed capital and future funding for eVestWeb and makePaper.

"Being part of the Delta Entrepreneurship Network and New Orleans Entrepreneur Week was an incredible experience,” said Jason Stinnett, founder and principal of eVestWeb. “Simply being around like-minded entrepreneurs and support organizations is a key to success for small startups like mine. We really learned a lot from each other and I think every founder took many steps forward for their business by being part of the program."

The Delta Entrepreneurship Network and its Delta Challenge pitch competitions builds on a key partnership with The Idea Village to identify, connect, nurture, and grow entrepreneurs into a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem across the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions. The Idea Village has been globally recognized as a model for place-based economic development through entrepreneurship—reaching over 3,400 entrepreneurs with $2.5 million in seed capital—and has been a steadfast advocate for making New Orleans a vibrant entrepreneurial community.

DRA Federal Co-Chairman Christopher A. Masingill said, “Small businesses are the backbone of the Delta region’s economy and we are proud to support entrepreneurs like Jason Stinnett and Maria Hampton in transforming ideas into companies, like eVestWeb and makePaper. By participating in New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, Jason and Maria had the opportunity to connect with the organizations, fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors that could help eVestWeb and makePaper flourish into successful businesses that will continue to grow, create jobs for Delta residents, and help drive the local economy. This is just the first step in building a strong regional ecosystem for entrepreneurial growth and success.”

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week is an annual event celebrating business, innovation, and advanced thinking in New Orleans. This is the inaugural year of the partnership between the DRA and the Idea Village that brought 31 entrepreneurs and support organizations to New Orleans for the special DRA programming. Produced by The Idea Village, NOEW engages a dynamic global network to support growing companies and elevate entrepreneurial successes through eight days of discussion, debate, education, competition, and celebration. NOEW 2015 took place March 20-27.


Prizes Announced for Startup Weekend NWA


Startup Weekend NWA is almost here, and event organizers have released the list of prizes which includes services from three Innovate Arkansas client firms: RevUnit of Bentonville and Fayetteville firms Field Agent and DataRank. 

Startup Weekend NWA rolls April 17-19 at Centerspace above the Fayetteville square (the ARK Challenge space). Register right here and more info from UP Global is available here.

Check out the video here.

And here are the details on the awesome prizes, which include technical consulting from RevUnit, credits from Field Agent and access to DataRank's API: 

Startup Weekend NWA Prizes:

1st Place (Valued at ~$9,500)

  • 30 hours of brand consulting time from Stone Ward
  • 4 hours of technical consulting from RevUnit
  • 2.5 hours of legal consulting from Winters Law
  • -2 hours of print and marketing consultation from Moxy Ox
  • $250 value of printing ay Moxy Ox
  • $300 Field Agent credits
  • 1 Year Pro subscription from Treehouse for the entire team

2nd Place (Valued at ~$5,000)

  • 15 hours of brand consulting time from Stone Ward
  • 2 hours of technical consulting from RevUnit
  • 1.5 hours of legal consulting from Winters Law
  • 1 hour of print and marketing consultation from Moxy Ox
  • $150 value of printing ay Moxy Ox
  • $200 Field Agent credits
  • 1 Year Basic subscription from Treehouse for the entire team


For All Participants:

  • Access to the Datarank API
  • $100 Field Agent credits per team
  • 2 free A/B testing polls from PickFu
  • Free .co domain
  • 1 month free trial of Treehouse
  • Google Swag

Event: Startup Weekend NWA
Startup Weekend is a non-profit, community-building event that brings together entrepreneurs of different backgrounds, including software developers, marketers, designers, and other enthusiasts. They gather to pitch ideas, form teams and start companies in just 54 hours. The participants that attend have 60 seconds to make a pitch (optional), the pitches are whittled down to the top ideas, and then teams from around the ideas to come out with several developed companies or projects. Finally, the weekend culminates with demonstrations in front of an audience of judges and potential investors.


Arkansas Export Awards Scheduled for May 19


Arkansas' top exporters will be recognized May 19 at the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock.

One of state's prominent exporting firms is IA client firm Power Technology Inc. of Alexander, which sends its laser products to countries all over the world. 

William Burgess, VP of operations for PTI, chairs the Arkansas District Export Council, and he's gonna be busy over the next month.

In addition to preparing for the 6th-annual Governor's Award for Excellence in Global Trade (essentially, the Arkansas export awards), Burgess will be showing off PTI's latest product, Illumina, at CinemaCon 2015 in Las Vegas April 21-23.

And next week, PTI's VP of sales and engineering, Walter Burgess, will take Illumina to Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters trade show.

Illumina is a laser projection system that could replace the way we see movies. More on CinemaCon here. More on Illumina here.

Fred Hochberg, chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., toured the PTI facility this week. More from Arkansas Business here.

Meanwhile, individual tickets are still available for the export awards, and you can still make nominations here. But better hurry. It's just around the corner.

Email for more info.

IA Client PrivacyStar Plans Move to River Market


Innovate Arkansas client firm PrivacyStar of Conway announced Thursday that it's moving into the Museum Building in downtown Little Rock's River Market District.

It made the announcement with fellow Conway tech firm Inuvo. The two companies share space in downtown Conway and later this fall will each occupy roughly 13,000-SF in the building that houses office space as well as the Museum of Discovery and the newest Damgoode Pies location.

The space is being renovated and company officials from both firms expect to move in by October.

The vibe in downtown Little Rock just got even more techy. Awesome.

Here's coverage of the event from Arkansas Business.

And a sample:

Both companies have ties to former Acxiom Corp. CEO Charles Morgan. Morgan is a member of Inuvo's board of directors, and he is chairman and CEO of PrivacyStar, which makes a call and text blocking app for smartphones. Howe is a former chief marketing officer for Acxiom. Inuvo manages much of PrivacyStar's IT work.

Both companies have been operating at 1111 Main Street in downtown Conway. Morgan said both firms looked for space in Conway but couldn't find any to fit their needs. They also considered building, he said, but needed the space sooner than new construction would allow.


James Hendren to Receive UALR's Fribourgh Award


Arkansas tech pioneer and Innovate Arkansas supporter James Hendren will receive the Fribrourgh Award from UALR, the school announced Wednesday.

Hendren has supported IA and all efforts to build a tech startup ecosystem since before the foundation for such a thing even existed.

He's a board member and past chair for Acclerate Arkansas, chairs the Venture Center board, is a former AEDC commissioner, and he served on the boards of ASTA and the Arkansas STEM Coalition.

In addition, Hendren was co-founder of Arkansas Systems (now Euronet) and is a managing member of Fund for Arkansas' Future.

Plus, he sits on the boards of IA client firm Movista and UAMS BioVentures and previously served on the boards of IA clients Vivione Biosciences,, and Black Oak Partners, and VIC Technology Venture Development of Fayetteville.

All that just kind of scratches the surface, actually. He's a tech founder, tech investor, tech get the idea.

Here's more on the much-deserved award from UALR:

James Hendren to receive UALR’s Fribourgh Award

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 8, 2015) – Dr. James Hendren, an entrepreneurial champion for the advancement of technology startup companies and job development in Arkansas, will be honored at 5:30 p.m. Thursday April 30, at the Pleasant Valley Country Club.

Hendren, the former CEO and chairman of one of Arkansas’s earliest high-tech companies, Arkansas Systems Inc. (ARKSYS ), now known as Euronet, will receive UALR’s prestigious Fribourgh Award, sponsored by the UALR College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences.

Tickets are $75 per person, of which $60 is tax deductible, to benefit the Science and Mathematics Leadership Endowed Scholarship Fund for undergraduate students.

For reservations, go to or contact Joseph Lampo at 501.569.8326 or

Hendren, an innovator in sophisticated software development in both the defense and finance industries, grew ARKSYS from a small, home-grown company to an internationally known corporation.

“James has truly made outstanding contributions to STEM education and economic development in Arkansas,” said John Chamberlin, founder of ARKSYS.

Hendren served on the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority board of directors and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. At the commission, Hendren led the charge to include high-tech startup companies in economic development strategies for the state.

As the founding chairman of the Arkansas STEM Coalition and chairman of Accelerate Arkansas and the Arkansas Venture Center, Hendren continues to be a key player in spearheading efforts to create jobs in Arkansas.

He is also an avid volunteer serving in a variety of capacities at UALR including serving as the former Executive in Residence for the College of Information Sciences and System Engineering (EIT) for 10 years. Hendren earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Arkansas.

Created in 2010, the Fribourgh Award honors the late Dr. James H. Fribourgh, a former UALR professor and administrator. Professor emeritus Fribourgh spent more than 45 years at UALR, serving as chair of Life Sciences, interim chancellor, vice chancellor for academic affairs, and distinguished professor of biology. 

Innovate Arkansas 3.0: Tech Talent Development


In case you missed it 2.0.....

Innovate Arkansas and its role in the development of future tech talent in Arkansas is the subject of this month's Innovate profile in the latest print edition of Arkansas Business.

Innovate Arkansas 3.0, as it were.

Arkansas has built a solid tech startup foundation, and leaders in the tech startup community believe the its next focus should be growing and retaining homegrown tech talent as well as recruiting it to Arkansas from outside the state.

Some progress has been made: The Iron Yard and 100 Girls of Code just a couple of examples.

IA, of course, is a program of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in partnership with Winrock International.

A sample of the AB piece:

The tech talent that exists in Arkansas is good, just not deep: We need a longer bench. More coders and developers are needed to staff the tech startups emerging organically and from programs such as the ARK Challenge accelerator, created with federal funds from the Economic Development Administration, which IA applied for and secured in 2012...

While most visitors to Arkansas leave pleasantly surprised at what they find here, Arkansas can’t import enough talent to keep up with its tech startup growth. Like South Carolina, Arkansas needs an infusion of homegrown talent. Lacking the high-tech resources of hotbeds such as Silicon Valley, Austin or the Research Triangle in North Carolina, growing it — and keeping local talent at home — is crucial to future growth.

Full story here.

Innovate Arkansas -- Nurturing and developing talent at a tech startup near you...

IA Client Phyzit Featured by Arkansas Business


In case you missed it, Innovate Arkansas client firm Phyzit of Little Rock is featured this week at

Phyzit has developed an app that tackles the transitional care management problems experienced by patients and their health-care providers. Basically, the Phyzit TCM app enables doctors and their staff members to keep tabs on patients post-visit.

Co-founder Stephen Canon, a Little Rock pediatric urologist and the father of triplets, compared launching a startup to raising triplets: The pace is not slow and easy but is it ever a blast.

Here's a sample from the piece:

As with most big ideas, the idea behind Little Rock's Phyzit was hatched when Arkansas Children's Hospital pediatric urologist Stephen Canon realized there had to be a better way.

Canon was frustrated with the lack of communication between doctors and patients and set out to improve transitional care management.

He and his dad Michael, an attorney and former mayor of Midland, Texas, launched the Phyzit app to enable doctors and patients to communicate post-visit via telemedicine and mobile messaging.

In addition, Phyzit addresses other problems associated with TCM:

  • Poor utilization of TCM coding;
  • TCM reimbursement hassles;
  • Overburdened physicians' staffs.

The app, developed for iOS, has been beta tested by Dr. Brad Bibb in Ash Flat. Bibb, a family practice physician, reported additional revenue of $1,400 a month using the app and his patients' hospital readmissions were cut by 50 percent. The Phyzit team believes its app, Phyzit TCM, can generate additional revenue of $1,000 to $2,000 a month per primary care provider.

Full story here. Plus, here are five tips for startup success from Canon and his team.

Stay tuned. The Phyzit folks are just getting started....


John James of Acumen Brands Named to Computer Science Task Force


The new Arkansas computer science task force named Monday by Gov. Asa Hutchinson includes members with Innovate Arkansas ties such as John James of Acumen Brands.

James, the Doctorpreneur himself, co-founded Acumen in Fayetteville. The IA client firm has become a multi-million dollar firm and an e-commerce giant

James should be able to provide some insight for the group tasked with overseeing the rollout of introducing computer science to all Arkansas high schools beginning with the 2015-16 school year, as mandated this year by the state legislature.

Joining James on the task force are Arkansas tech pioneer and former Accelerate Arkansas chair James Hendren, AEDC's Tom Chilton, ASTA's Tim Atkinson and Arkansas STEM Coaltion director Suzanne Mitchell.

Here's the full list:

  • Johnny Key, Department of Education, Commissioner of Education
  • Tom Chilton, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Director of Technology Development
  • Dr. Charisse Childers, Department of Career Education, Director.
  • Brett Powell, Department of Higher Education, Director.
  • Daryl Bassett, Department of Workforce Services, Director.
  • Tim Atkinson, Arkansas Science & Technology Authority, President.
  • Carl Frank, Arkansas’s Computer Science Teachers Association, President.
  • Gary Dowdy, Arkansas Academy of Computing, President.
  • Andy Mayes, Bentonville. IT Solutions teacher, Bentonville High School. President of Arkansas Society for Technology in Education. A High School Computer Science Teacher.
  • Suzanne Mitchell, Little Rock. Executive Director, Arkansas STEM Coalition. Representative of the Arkansas STEM Coalition.
  • Rasesh Patel, Little Rock. Director of Product Development, Acxiom. Representative in the field of computer programming.
  • Dave Wengel, Little Rock. Founder and CEO, iDatafy. At-large member.
  • John James, Fayetteville. CEO, Acumen Brands. At-large member.
  • James Hendren, Technology Startup Consultant, Self Employed. Little Rock. At-large member.
  • David Hopkins, Clarksville. Superintendent, Clarksville School District. At-large member.



AEDC Earns Award for Work with Innovation Hub


The Arkansas Economic Development Commission, which partners with Winrock International to administer the IA program, has won a national award based on its work with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub.

AEDC won a 2015 Economic Development Award from Business Facilities magazine for its partnership with the Hub.

Good stuff. Here's more:

AEDC wins Economic Development Award by Business Facilities magazine
Agency wins in “Innovation Hubs” category for its work with the Arkansas Innovation Hub

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (April 6, 2015) – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) has received a 2015 Economic Development Award by Business Facilities magazine in the category of “Achievement in Innovation Hubs” for the agency’s work with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, located in North Little Rock. AEDC was one of five states honored in the category.

"The Innovation Hub is honored to receive this national recognition in partnership with AEDC," said Warwick Sabin, Executive Director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. "Our intention from the outset was to synthesize the best practices and models for entrepreneurial assistance from around the nation and create programming that is uniquely tailored for Arkansas. This award from experts in the field validates our approach and elevates our state among the leaders in talent and enterprise development."

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, known as “The Hub,” is a nonprofit organization that strives to increase entrepreneurial activity by creating a network of resources, programs, and educational opportunities that attract, develop, and retain emerging talent while building the state’s economy.

“Arkansas’s entrepreneurs are vital to the economic success of our state,” said Danny Games, AEDC Deputy Director of Global Business. “We have so much talent here, and The Hub creates an environment that allows these innovators to share ideas while growing their businesses.”

The Hub held a “wallbreaking” for its Innovation Center in February 2014. The center has four components:

· The Launch Pad, a maker space with cutting-edge equipment and technology

· The STEAM Lab, a classroom and laboratory space for science, technology, engineering, and math pursuits

· The Silver Mine, a co-working space for entrepreneurs and startup incubation

· The Art Connection, a program for high-school students that develops leadership and innovation through the visual arts

The location in the heart of North Little Rock’s Argenta Arts District at Broadway and Poplar Streets is not only convenient to downtown Little Rock’s proposed tech park, but it is also in a historic area known for coffee shops and galleries that blends art and technology. It is modeled after New Orleans’ Idea Village, which has provided direct support to more than 3,000 entrepreneurs, generated more than $100 million in annual revenue, and created more than 2,000 jobs in New Orleans since its inception in 2000.

AEDC is one of several partners in The Hub including Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, Arkansas Science and Technology Authority, the EAST Initiative, the Arkansas STEM Coalition, Delta Regional Authority, Winrock International, and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

For more information on the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, including its Argenta Innovation Center, visit

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