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UA's Bobbitt, Fritsch Named Fellows of National Academy of Inventors


From the UA Newswire comes news that the UA's Donald Bobbitt and Ingrid Fritsch have been named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

Bobbitt, of course, is president of the UA System. Fritsch serves on the board of IA client SFC Fluidics, a VIC Technology Development portfolio company.

Both are members of the chemistry and biochemistry faculty at the UA in Fayetteville.

Here's more:

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society, according to the academy.

Bobbitt, a 2014 initiate into the academy, was awarded patents for discoveries he made in the 1990s as a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He joined the faculty in 1985 and received a University of Arkansas Alumni Association Award in Teaching and the Fulbright College Master Teacher Award, among other honors. He served as dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the U of A from 2003-08...

...Fritsch was initiated into the National Academy of Inventors in 2013. She came to the U of A faculty in 1992 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a postdoctoral associate.

She is the recipient of the 1997 Society of Electroanalytical Chemistry Young Investigator Award, a National Science Foundation Career Award, an NSF Special Creativity Extension and an American Chemical Society Chemistry Ambassadorship. She holds 10 U.S. patents and has co-founded two startup companies. She is currently on the board of directors of SFC Fluidics Inc.

Congratulations to both. Again, here's the full story from the UA Newswire.


John James to Moderate 2015 UA Business Forecast Luncheon


John James, the Doctorpreneur himself, CEO of IA client firm (we can still can 'em that) and Fayetteville e-commerce giant Acumen Brands, will moderate the 2015 Business Forecast Luncheon from the UA's Center for Business and Economic Research at the Walton Business College.

Whew. That was an e-mouthful.  

The 2015 luncheon, the 21st, will take place Friday, Jan. 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the John Q. Hammons Center in what is now being billed as the World Trade Center District in Rogers.

James recently appeared on IA adviser Jeff Amerine's Swimming in a Sea of Data segment, part of 8th & Walton's Saturday Morning Meeting

Here's more from the UA Newswire on the 2015 luncheon, annually a big deal on the NWA business calendar:

Regional, national and international experts will discuss the economic outlook for Arkansas, the nation and the world at the 21st annual Business Forecast luncheon.

The event, coordinated by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in the World Trade Center District in Rogers.

The panelists are:

  • Moderator: John James, founder, Acumen Brands
  • International Speaker: Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist, Northern Trust
  • Domestic Speaker: John Silvia, managing director and chief economist, Wells Fargo
  • Regional Speaker: Kathy Deck, director, Center for Business and Economic Research

“For the 21st consecutive year, the Business Forecast luncheon is bringing the best economists to Northwest Arkansas to present their insights about the economy in the coming year,” Deck said. “We are excited to bring such highly regarded experts to Northwest Arkansas to provide insights, data and analysis. We know that many of the leaders who attend the Business Forecast luncheon use the presented statistics to make their organizations stronger.”

Read the full release here


Swimming in a Sea of Data: Jason Kohrig of ARK Challenge Firm Skosay


IA adviser Jeff Amerine is back this week with Swimming in a Sea of Data, part of 8th & Walton's Saturday Morning Meeting show. This week, he talks customer feedback with Jason Kohrig of ARK Challenge alum and IA client firm Skosay of Fayetteville.

Here's more on Skosay from IA and Arkansas Business.

Saturday Morning Meeting airs each week on KNWA, on the 8th & Walton YouTube channel, and right here. Jeff's Swimming segment begins at about the 4:20 mark. Enjoy:

Hub's Food Innovation Center Gets Mention in Little Rock Soiree


Plans to develop a Food Innovation Center from the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub caught the eye -- or perhaps, noses -- of the foodies over at our cousin publication, Little Rock Soiree.

In case you missed it, the Hub is one of 26 programs nationwide selected to participate in the federal "Local Foods, Local Places" program, for which it will develop a local Food Innovation Center.

Here's more from earlier this month in this space, and here's more from Soiree:

Along with advancing food safety, agricultural technology and public health, the center will also aide in the development of value-added products while offering support for expanding businesses.

“We are very pleased and honored to receive this assistance to develop a Regional Food Innovation Center with our partners,” said Warwick Sabin, Executive Director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. “We look forward to creating more opportunities for food producers, entrepreneurs and others to build sustainable businesses, stimulate the economy, and further improve their communities.”




The Week Ahead: AVC Hosts First Pre-Flight Demo Day


The week ahead in Arkansas techpreneurship is a big one for the Arkansas Venture Center.

The AVC will host its first Pre-Flight Demo Day Tuesday night and, on Wednesday hopes to finalize with the Little Rock tech park board plans to move into the old ARK Challenge space on East Markham.

As always, check out the Arkansas Startup Digest for all things techpreneur. Away we go:

  • The first Pre-Flight Demo Day in Little Rock goes down Tuesday night from the Little Rock Chamber beginning at 6. Pre-Flight is the Nashville Entrepreneur Center-powered pre-accelerator program run in Little Rock by the AVC. More info here.
  • The weekly 1 Million Cups program resumes Wednesday at 9 from the Chamber, and this week will feature a year-end celebration. Many ARK alum and IA client firms have presented. More here
  • AVC will present before the Little Rock tech park board Wednesday at 4 from the Chamber. It hopes to finalize a deal to move into the old ARK Challenge space across the street on East Markham in downtown Little Rock. The AVC has operated out of space donated by the Chamber and is looking to take over the ARK space, currently leased by the tech park board. More on the tech park here.


Overwatch Featured in Tech Cocktail


Innovate Arkansas client firm Overwatch, an ARK Challenge alumnus startup and 2013 ARK winner, is preparing to go to market in 2015, and this week was featured in Tech Cocktail.

Overwatch, of course, was founded by then high-school junior Josh Moody, who with the help of Joe and Michael from IA client firm RevUnit, launched the startup at the ARK over the course of the fall semester of his senior year.

Josh was a student at Little Rock's Catholic High who relocated temporarily to Bentonville to work with RevUnit and launch at the ARK in Fayetteville.

A sample from Tech Cocktail:

It’s been a whirlwind journey from ideation to implementation for the young entrepreneur and his fledgling company. “No matter how old you are or how much you know about starting a business, if you have the drive to succeed and you seek the guidance of those around you, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish,” Moody encourages potential entrepreneurs.

Full post here.

The Overwatch app is available now, and the firm is finalizing some strategic partnerships that will make it available at retail outlets such as Walmart and Academy Sports in 2015.

This fall, Overwatch was included in the prestigious TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

Stay tuned. 2015 should be a big year for Josh and Overwatch.


AVC's Pre-Flight Demo Day Set for Tuesday


The Arkansas Venture Center will host its first Pre-Flight Demo Day on Tuesday from 6-8 at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Pre-Flight is a 14-week pre-accelerator course developed by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center that "provides the tools to help entrepreneurs and startup companies fast track their ideas to market."

More Pre-Flight courses are planned for 2015.

Here's the official Demo Day announcement:

Pre-Flight is our first pre-accelerator 14-week program that provides the tools to help entrepreneurs and startup companies fast track their ideas to market. Backed by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Pre-Flight was developed over a twenty year period by serial entrepreneurs and investors.
Join us on Tuesday, December 16th to celebrate our entrepreneurs as they pitch their ideas to Venture Center President Lee Watson and a panel of Venture Center Mentors. Entrepreneurs will each give a 5 minute pitch.

Pitch Day Run of Show
5:30 PM – Doors Open
6:00 PM – Program Begins
8:00 PM – Cocktails & Hors d’Oeuvres

We would like to invite everyone to stay until the pitches are completed and join us for Cocktails & Hors d’Oeuvres and meet all the Pre-Flight graduates!


Top 25 Finalists Announced for 2015 Youth Entrepreneur Showcase


Each year, the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation quietly goes about helping to establish a foundation for entrepreneurship in Arkansas with its Youth Entrepreneur Showcase business-plan competitions for students in grades 5-8 and 9-12.

These days, the focus is on high-tech entrepreneurship and organizations like Noble Impact are rightly receiving recognition for their efforts to engage students as future techpreneurs. And in Noble's case, social entrepreneurs. 

But AEAF, an affiliate of the Arkansas Capital Corporation Group, has been building up and recognizing student entrepreneurs beginning in fifth grade for years. Created in 2005, its Youth Entrepreneur Showcase is a business-plan competition for students across the state in grades 5-8, and YES 2.0 is the same for students in grades 9-12. (The 2014 best business plan and marketing winners, Wonderful Wire Works from Hazen, are pictured above).

Here's coverage of the 2014 expo held last January from Arkansas Business.

On Wednesday, AEAF announced the finalists for the 2015 Youth Entrepreneur Showcase, which will name its winners on Jan. 16 at Park Plaza Mall in Little Rock, where the top 25 finalists will showcase their products and ideas at the Arkansas Business Expo.  

(Innovate Arkansas is involved in the judging for both the YES and YES 2.0 competitions, and by the way, January 16 would make a good shopping day at Park Plaza. Wink, wink...)

 Here's more from AEAF including a list of the 25 finalists:

Top 25 Finalists Announced for 2015 Youth Entrepreneur Showcase
Fifth- through Eighth-Grade Business Plan Competition

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF), an affiliate of the Arkansas Capital Corporation Group in Little Rock, announced the finalists of its 10th annual Youth Entrepreneur Showcase (Y.E.S.), a business plan competition for elementary, middle, and junior high school students in grades five through eight.

Below are the finalists in alphabetical order by team name:

  • All Around the World, Washington Middle School, El Dorado
  • Bluff’s Desserted Candles, Scoggins-May-Hall GT Center, Pine Bluff
  • Bracelet Inc., Manila Middle School, Manila
  • Distressed Designs, Hazen Elementary School, Hazen
  • Erase Away the Dirt Soap Co., Cotter Public Schools, Cotter
  • Funtime Drumtime, Washington Middle School, El Dorado
  • Halo’s Bath Bombs, Manila Middle School, Manila
  • Head Drama, Pinkston Middle School, Mountain Home
  • Magnetic Imagination, Pinkston Middle School, Mountain Home
  • Magnetic Masterpieces, Cotter Public Schools, Cotter
  • ParaPeopleProducts, Manila Middle School, Manila
  • Phone Sock Products, Manila Middle School, Manila
  • The Plug Hug, Prairie Grove Middle School, Prairie Grove
  • Portable Pocket, Prairie Grove Middle School, Prairie Grove
  • Pucker Pops, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha
  • Secrets of Survival - SOS, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha
  • Sleevies, Washington Middle School, El Dorado
  • Steel Style, Hazen Elementary School, Hazen
  • Stick-O-Butter, Pinkston Middle School, Mountain Home
  • TABs, Carlisle Elementary School, Carlisle
  • Tie-Dye Treats, Forest Heights STEM Academy, Little Rock
  • TOWELetry Rolls, Carlisle Elementary School, Carlisle
  • Trash 2 Treasure Returns, Cutter Morning Star School, Hot Springs
  • Uplifting Cycle, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha
  • V.H.S. Item Box, Prairie Grove Middle School, Prairie Grove

The teams will now compete in the 2015 Y.E.S. for Arkansas Business Expo, which will begin at 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 16, at Park Plaza in Little Rock. Each team and its teacher advisor will have a booth to showcase their business ideas and sell products to Park Plaza patrons. Judges will be on hand during the expo to select first- through fourth-place winners in the following categories: Best Business Plan, Most Innovative Product, Best Marketing Piece, and Best Retail Booth Display. The winners will be announced by representatives of AEAF at Park Plaza at approximately 1:30 p.m. AEAF awards cash prizes of $1,100 to the advisors of the four top teams in each category ($4,400 total). Cash prizes of up to $1,050 are awarded to all students who are members of the top three teams (up to $4,200 total). The four teams in each category also receive a trophy.

AEAF received 242 business plans from 35 schools in 14 counties throughout Arkansas. Seventy Arkansans volunteered to judge the plans.

Since AEAF created Y.E.S. for Arkansas in 2005, more than 6,400 fifth- through eighth-grade students, plus their teacher advisors, have participated in the business plan competition. AEAF has awarded more than $60,000 in cash prizes.

The Arkansas Capital Corporation established AEAF in 1999 as a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to education-based initiatives that promote and foster the development of innovation and entrepreneurship within Arkansas. With broad support from the state’s business community, AEAF’s purpose is to nurture people and ideas to generate future Arkansas entrepreneurs.

The Arkansas Capital Corporation Group of companies empower entrepreneurs by providing capital in conjunction with community banks to businesses through its capital availability products and advocating for entrepreneurs through capital, educational, and technological improvements. The Arkansas Capital Corporation Group serves as the platform from which new opportunities are launched. In addition to the flagship company, Arkansas Capital Corporation, there are seven affiliate and partner companies, including, Six Bridges Capital Corporation, Arkansas Capital Relending Corporation, Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, Heartland Renaissance Fund, Connect Arkansas, Pine State Regional Center, and SouthWind Analytics. To learn more, visit


Fayetteville Launching State's First PACE Program


Fayetteville officially launches the state's first PACE project on Thursday.

PACE -- Property Assessed Clean Energy -- is an innovative energy financing concept that offers opportunities for eligible commercial property owners to access 100 percent property-assessed financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation property improvements.

Fayetteville's PACE project is called Arkansas Advanced Energy Equity (A2E2). PACE was signed into law last year by Gov. Beebe.

Here's more on Thursday's launch and related events from the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association:

A2E2-Fayetteville is State's First PACE Financing Program to Launch
Kickoff Announcement, Contractor Seminar Scheduled Dec. 11

Fayetteville, AR - Nearly four years after announcing his support for an innovative energy financing concept called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan will become the state's first Mayor to formally launch a city-wide program on Thursday, December 11.

A press conference is scheduled at 1:00 pm in the front lobby of the Fayetteville Public Library, 401 W. Mountain St. The media and public are invited to attend.

The program is called Arkansas Advanced Energy Equity (A2E2) and will be administered by A2E2, LLC, which was incorporated in Arkansas earlier this year by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA) and Energy Equity Funding (EEF), a company that also administers Set the PACE St. Louis.

"Fayetteville is committed to an energy future that is cleaner, more efficient and more reliable," said Mayor Jordan. "The A2E2 energy financing program is an opportunity for Fayetteville property owners to save energy costs and make their buildings and homes more valuable. A2E2 is creating green jobs that will help build Fayetteville's future."

The Fayetteville City Council moved in October, 2013, to adopt an ordinance creating Energy Improvement District #1 as authorized by PACE-enabling legislation enacted by the Arkansas General Assembly in April. The District's Board of Directors met for the first time in February of this year.

"This is wonderful day for Fayetteville and especially for all of my colleagues who volunteer on the Board of Directors for the Energy Improvement District," said Julie Trivitt, Chairwoman. "The board embraced our role as the 'pathfinder' for PACE in Arkansas and took every effort to ensure this is a program that our Mayor and our community can be proud of."

The A2E2 program offers opportunities for eligible commercial property owners within the City of Fayetteville to access 100% property-assessed financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation property improvements. The A2E2 loans will be secured by the property's tax assessment.

In addition to Mayor Jordan, speakers at the press conference will include David Johnson, Fayetteville Public Library Executive Director ; Julie Trivitt, Fayetteville Energy Improvement District Chairwoman of the Board; and Steve Patterson, A2E2, LLC.

"A2E2 is excited to work with the City of Fayetteville Energy Improvement District Board to launch the state's first PACE program," said Steve Patterson with A2E2 and the Executive Director of Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA). "We appreciate the Mayor's leadership and believe that his city's commercial property owners will now be rewarded with tremendous energy savings opportunities."

Following the press conference, A2E2 specialists Byron DeLear and Tom Applebaum will conduct an informational seminar for contractors, energy auditors, and consultants to learn about A2E2 financing options and increased sales opportunities for contractors. DeLear and Applebaum will discuss contractor participation terms and conditions, registration requirements, as well as program rules and financing criteria.

"We believe that the energy contracting community will find that A2E2 is an important marketing tool that will help them increase sales and achieve customer satisfaction," said DeLear, CEO of Energy Equity Funding. "We look forward to having strong, regional contractor participation in the A2E2 program."

Signed into law (Act 1074) by Governor Beebe in April 2013, the Arkansas local-option PACE program authorizes the voluntary creation of energy improvement districts to fund loans for 100% of the cost of energy savings projects by interested property owners. The loans are repaid via a special assessment on the owner's property. Loan payments must be less than the amount of energy savings achieved, so every customer experiences a net positive cash flow.

The program's website is also being launched on December 11. is the online portal that customers and contractors can use to explore the benefits of PACE financing and learn whether certain property improvements are eligible. Property owners may use the website to submit preliminary applications for project financing and contractors may register online to participate in the program.

To read a summary of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation, click here:

Arkansas Advanced Energy Equity Program (A2E2) is an innovative method for commercial property owners to finance energy improvements. The program is administered by A2E2, LLC on behalf of the City of Fayetteville, AR Energy Improvement District, Julie Trivitt, Chairwoman. A2E2, LLC was incorporated in Arkansas earlier this year by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA) and Energy Equity Funding (EEF), a company that also administers Set the PACE St. Louis.


Aurora Digital Signage Launches New Operating System


IA client firm Aurora Digital Signage of Fayetteville has launched a new operating system that enables users to load the firm's proprietary software onto any device running Windows.

This is big for Aurora clients, and of course, prospective ones.

This fall, Aurora and founder Brent Robinson were featured in industry pub Daily DOOH, and last summer Aurora forged a partnership with Verizon for Internet coverage.

Here's the official presser from Aurora on the system launch:

Northwest Arkansas Digital Signage Company Launches New Platform

System Upgrades Reduce Cost of Entry for Digital Signage Clients

Fayetteville, AR, December 5, 2014: Aurora Digital Signage has sharpened its edge on the competition with the November release of their new operating system. Companies interested in adding digital signage to their marketing efforts can now load Aurora’s proprietary software onto any device running Windows operating system, creating a seamless integration and reducing the cost of entry for new clients.

Brent Robinson, a member of the 2014 Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 class and owner of Aurora Digital Signage, is especially pleased about the effect the change will have on business owners who have tried digital signage from other companies and found it lacking. “Our software can be loaded onto their existing equipment, which will allow them to avoid the added investment of buying new equipment when they become our client.”

Customers using Aurora’s proprietary software can access their system through any Internet capable device, allowing easy management of their networked digital signage screens in multiple locations from one hub. The company works with a variety of clients – from small businesses or restaurants with a single panel, to larger companies with multiple screens across the country.

Aurora Digital Signage runs their system on proprietary software, which gives them the ability to respond to customer needs efficiently and to tailor the software accordingly to guarantee a platform that works for customers of every size and in any location. It doesn’t require a degree in computer engineering to operate. “One of the best things about our system is its ease of operation,” said Robinson, “any employee can be trained to use the software in about thirty minutes, and updating the signage messages can be done in only a few minutes.”


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