Arkansas Venture Forum begins Wednesday

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 45 views 

The Arkansas Venture Forum will kick-off Wednesday morning (Sept. 15) at Little Rock’s Doubletree Hotel with a panel discussion on ways for homegrown entrepreneurs to land much-needed venture capital.

During a time when seed funds and investment capital for technology startups and incubator firms are difficult to find, the one-day forum for Arkansas entrepreneurs could not have come at a better time.

According to the Dow Jones Venture Wire, the venture capital industry is widely expected to contract over the next few years, as limited partners grow increasingly impatient with under-performing firms.

Several Arkansas-based firms are expected to making presentations at the forum, including a number of startups with biotech and healthcare origins. One presenter, Springdale-based NanoMech is now transitioning from development stage to profitable, commercial activity.

The Arkansas nanotechnology firm was founded in 2002 and today is involving breakthrough innovations in machining and manufacturing, lubrication and energy, packaging for fresh produce supply chain, biomedical implant coatings and strategic military applications. Nanotechnology is involved in controlling of matter on an atomic or molecular scale.

Also, a few companies will make Web-cast presentations. One of those firms, RxResults, is a joint-venture with the University of Arkansas College Of Pharmacy and their Evidence-Based Medicine program (EBRx). RxResults has implemented a system to lower drug costs for the Arkansas Medicaid program and State Employees Association and is commercializing this model with plans to offer it to other large self-insured employers.

The keynote speaker for this year’s event is Howard Morgan, former president and current vice chairman of Idealab, a Silicon Valley-based firm that incubates and operates pioneering technology companies. The structure of Idealab has allowed it "to test many ideas at once and turn the best of them into companies, attracting the human and financial capital necessary to bring them to market,” company officials said.

Morgan is also a founding partner of First Round Capital, a seed stage venture fund.  He also serves as a director for a number of public companies, including Franklin Electronic Publishers, Inc. and Internet Brands, Inc. Morgan also serves as President of Arca Group Inc., a consulting firm specializing in the areas of computers and communications technologies.