The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub unveiled their new Co-working space March 3, 2016 as a part of an open house, which showcased other renovations in areas of the North Little Rock startup center.
The co-work space is the home of the 2016 HubX-LifeSciences Healthcare Accelerator powered by Baptist Health and Arkansas Blue Cross BlueShield in partnership with the Innovation Hub and The Iron Yard.
Last year, the Hub tasked Jeff Stinson to take on the leadership role of the new co-working space. Stinson has hit the ground running, helping to prepare the space for the new accelerator.
Previously, Stinson was the Director of UALR TechLaunch as well as a consultant for Stinson Advisory Services. Currently, he serves as the Executive Director of Fund for Arkansas’ Future, an angel investment fund based in Little Rock.
In addition, the Innovation Hub added Kim Lane to help run digital media for the co-work space. Lane has expertise in blending the digital initiatives with a robust publishing experience. She is a 2013 graduate of Hendrix College and has raced to a wealth of experience in a very short time writing for publications such as Treatsie, Arkansas Times, Brit + Co, AY Magazine and Arkansas Money & Politics. In addition, Lane spent a year working with Little Rock marketing giant CJRW.
Lane will be asked to manage the digital roles of the Innovation Hub’s Co-working space including the HubX LifeSciences Accelerator and HubX NextGen. Lane has already visited with area high schools to generate interest in the NextGen Accelerator.
Originally, the Co-work space was to be called the Silvermine, but after some re-evaluation, the staff at the Innovation Hub decided to rebrand putting all of the sub-brands under the broader umbrella of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub.
The Innovation Hub recently relaunched their website reflecting the branding.
In addition to the HubX-LifeSciences Healthcare Accelerator, the Hub will launch the new HubX NextGen Accelerator featuring local high school students. Applications are being accepted through April 30th and the accelerator will take place June 13 through Aug. 5, from 1-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Interested students can register at https://arhub.org/hubx-nextgen/. The HubX NextGen accelerator is in collaboration with Junior Achievement of Arkansas and is open to students aged 16-18.
In addition, Stinson explained there will be future accelerators at the Innovation Hub.
“We will be including an Innovation Fund which is an early stage proof-of-concept fund to help capitalize and train university-based startups all over the state of Arkansas,” he said.
While the HubX-LifeSciences Healthcare Accelerator will be the anchor cohort for the Innovation Hub, Stinson acknowledged that there will be many different options for the community to take advantage of their services.
One way the community can tap into the Innovation Hub is through services with Innovate Arkansas, a state-funded initiative for helping scale Arkansas tech ventures.
“We will be doing a lot of programming for Innovate Arkansas,” Stinson noted. “We will advise and counsel early stage entrepreneurs on how to go through the startup process, help you think through strategy and your business model, vet the business model with you, and ultimately, help you raise the capital you need.”
The Innovate Arkansas services are free and community members do not have to be members of the Innovation Hub to take advantage of their services. Additionally, Stinson said there would be community pitch contests at the Innovation Hub as well as an opportunity to pitch to the Arkansas Angel Network Luncheon.
“The Hub is launching a series of angel investor lunches to take place in our recently opened co-working space,” explained Lane. “These lunches will bring the Central Arkansas investment community together to hear pitches from promising startups.”
“Accredited investors and other members of the entrepreneurial community are welcome to attend,” Lane added. “The AAN lunch meetings will take place every other month and are presented in partnership with Innovate Arkansas.”
Another approach, that the Innovation Hub will help with, is subject matter expertise. Stinson noted the Innovation Hub has already worked with The Soccer Daily, a niche website covering soccer news. Stinson put the owner of the website in touch with a couple of local media entrepreneurs.
This approach is more of a mentor approach. When a business owner seeks help from the Innovation Hub, Stinson and Lane can help connect them to a local business entrepreneur with real-world, subject matter expertise.
The Co-work Space at the Innovation Hub will serve as the home of both present and future accelerator cohorts as well as work to serve the needs of the community from small business owners to entrepreneurs to various makers and freelancers.