Techpreneurship, with Jeff Amerine
(Jeff Amerine is an IA advisor, entrepreneurship educator, and officer with the University of Arkansas Technology Licensing Office. Each Thursday, his Techpreneurship blog will appear in INOV8. Drop him a line in comments.)
Earlier this week, I attended the Building the Arkansas Innovation Economy symposium at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and UALR, led by Dr. Mary Good, organized the two-day event.
The event included speakers from the White House staff, other federal agencies, universities, state government and industry. I think there would be little debate amongst the attendees that the most inspiring and compelling speech of the event was delivered by Gov. Mike Beebe.
Beebe spoke with great conviction about Arkansas’s determination and tenacity in the pursuit of dramatic educational improvement. He painted a clear picture as to how education drives entrepreneurship and economic development.
I can’t do the speech justice, and I am sure the details of the speech are covered elsewhere in the press. So I’ll just give you one amusing anecdotal comment I heard from an out-of-state presenter after Beebe’s speech.
She said something like this, “Gov. Beebe really believes what he says; does he have Presidential aspirations?” And then she said, ”We sure don’t get that message from our governor.” Frankly, regardless of political preference, it was hard not to have those sorts of positive feelings about Beebe after he spoke.
The consensus from people I run with in either party is that we need to keep him at the helm here in Arkansas for a bit longer.
The message for techpreneurs…the Governor gets it.
There were several highpoints from the two-day event, but I want to end with a challenge to Arkansas techpreneurs. Joe Brenner from Nordex outlined his view of the future of wind energy in Arkansas. He gave a clear picture of the large manufacturing plant and high-wage rate employment they have in the works for Jonesboro.
With wind turbine manufacturing plants being built in Arkansas from at least three different major global providers across the state, how can startup techpreneurs leverage these developments? How can Arkansas become a worldwide center of excellence in renewable energy technology and manufacturing?
Here are some thoughts to chew on. In addition to the attraction of global wind turbine manufacturers, Arkansas has a unique facility in the University of Arkansas Research Park called the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission (NCREPT).
The facility, led by Dr. Alan Mantooth and managed by T.A. Walton, allows researchers to test power grid power electronics, systems for hybrid electric vehicles, and advanced battery technologies.
As an example, if you need to test your system with the power load from 1,000 homes…they can do that. Need to test a power system intended to run a 50 story building? Well, they can do that also, and a whole lot more. Check it out: http://ncrept.eleg.uark.edu/Index.html
In addition to NCREPT, one of the world leaders in high power, high temperature silicon carbide electronics is right here in the Research Park as well. Led by Dr. Alex Lostetter, Arkansas Power Electronics International (APEI), has power electronics that make electric/hybrid electric vehicles and renewable energy (like wind and solar) power conversion more practical. Check them out at: http://www.apei.net/default.aspx.
So, renewable energy techpreneurs, the ingredients for Arkansas to be a worldwide center of excellence in renewable energy technology are right here before us, right here in our backyard. The Governor believes we can be a center of innovation. I’m convinced we can do it.
What say you?