UA opens startup village for fledgling entrepreneurs

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 920 views 

The University of Arkansas has opened the U of A Startup Village as a space for promoting entrepreneurship.

The U of A Startup Village encompasses about 2,750 square feet on the lower floor of the Hancock Building at 240 N. Block St. in Fayetteville. It will provide seed-stage entrepreneurial teams with reservable office space, a conference room, kitchen, storage rooms and mailboxes. The village, which is equidistant to the Fayetteville Square and the UA campus, also will offer teams access to training, mentorship and event opportunities on campus, at the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub and Startup Junkie.

The office space will be open to UA students, faculty, staff and alumni from any discipline with incorporated and operational businesses. It also will be available to companies that have licensed university-owned intellectual property from Technology Ventures.

“U of A Startup Village is a great step forward in the university’s drive to bolster the state’s entrepreneurial efforts,” said Stacy Leeds, vice chancellor for economic development. “By providing flexible office space near mentoring and U of A services such as the Small Business and Technology Development Center, we are providing a path to entrepreneurs to integrate with the Arkansas Research and Technology Park and the vibrant community of inventors, startups and nonprofits we have within our university ecosystem.”

Startups can apply to be a part of a module that’s selected for their needs. The module will be for three to six months, and the terms are renewable. Those who do business at the U of A Startup Village will have exterior branding along the Dickson Street corridor and receive visibility within the community, a news release shows. Policies and management of the space will be shared by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Technology Ventures. The goal is to be sustained through grants, rental fees and corporate sponsorship after the first pilot year.

“U of A Startup Village will integrate seamlessly with the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub and the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, giving emerging U of A entrepreneurs a vital head start for their businesses,” said Anne O’Leary-Kelly, senior associate dean in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “This is a great investment in the university’s innovative undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff and alumni, and in the state’s economic development.”

UA students Kyle Berger and Kyle Sadler, both undergraduate directors in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, wrote the operating policies for the U of A Startup Village and provided furnishings for the space. On Nov. 1, the first two startups moved into the village: medical device company Lapovations and educational robotics maker MORE Technologies. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and more information is available by emailing [email protected]. An open house will take place Nov. 20.

The village can accommodate between seven and 12 startups. It has three reservable offices, each of which is 225 square feet, and six reservable desks, each with 150 square feet. There is no cost for the space during the pilot period. The UA plans to develop a shared service model, depending on the state of the business.