The ARK Challenge accelerator has had a good week.
It released its key cluster insights, a report detailing “invaluable insights into the primary technology needs and trends in our three target industry clusters.”
“Our” refers to NWA, and those three clusters are retail (think of a certain world’s largest retailer HQ’ed in NWA), transportation and logistics (think of a world-leading trucking firm HQ’ed in NWA), and food processing (think of a certain chicken empire HQ’ed in NWA).
The ARK’s mission is to recruit entrepreneurs — locally and from across the country — to solve automation issues in these areas. Its mentorship-driven boot camps will run three months, one later this fall and another in 2013.
The ARK is being administered by Winrock International (and Innovate Arkansas, itself a collaboration between Winrock and AEDC) in partnership with the UA and NWACC.
The ARK was one of 20 nationwide winners in the $37 million Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge launched last year by the Obama Administration in an effort to spur job growth in regional industry clusters. More than 150 applicants were considered.
IA’s own Jeff Amerine posted on Facebook this week that he believes the ARK boot camp will launch the “next great ventures.”
Also this week, the ARK was listed among Daily Tekk’s 150 resources for tech startups. It came in at No. 13 out of 19 national incubators and accelrators led by Y Combinator.
That’s some nice recognition and a testament to all the hard work put in by ARK director Jeanette Balleza and everyone associated with the effort. In fact, the ARK mentor page is up. Check it out for a virtual who’s who of players in the Arkansas startup community.
Years from now, folks may just look back and credit the launch of the ARK as a major event in the evolution of Arkansas as a tech hotbed, and a significant event for the state overall.