A project for helping Arkansas science- and technology-based startups apply for and obtain federal grant funding was announced Monday (June 15). Science Venture Studio (SVS) will provide an in-the-trenches approach to securing federal funding targeted at early stage commercialization, according to a news release.
Science Venture Studio launched in early June is led by Katie Thompson, founder and CEO of Rooted Startups. The SVS team will also include a range of experts, including a grant specialist, University of Arkansas Commercialization Fellows, key advisors and a number of science and technology mentors. Thompson and her team will provide in-depth guidance to small businesses preparing their Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) proposals as well as support in market validation, business model development and technology mentoring.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arkansas,” Thompson said in a statement. “Through helping early stage technology companies access federal research grant funding, SVS will help to retain highly skilled and entrepreneurial people in our communities, grow technologies that can have a global impact and ultimately boost the high-tech economy within our state.”
SVS is a division of Startup Junkie Foundation of Fayetteville. The project is made possible with a $500,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation. A portion of that funding will provide support for two student fellowships each semester for at least the next two years. Students, selected on the alignment of their skills and interests, will be partnered with an SVS client company to assist in market research, customer discovery and more. Applications will open in late August.
The University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Innovate Arkansas and the Northwest Arkansas Council are also partnering on the project.
“Arkansas underperforms our peer regions in accessing funding for commercialization of promising high-risk high-reward technologies,” said Doug Hutchings, entrepreneur in residence at Innovate Arkansas and senior SVS advisor. “At the same time, angel capital is limited which makes it especially important to expand access to these programs. The potential impact is outsized with over $8 million a year in additional startup funding possible if we can execute on the opportunity.”
In addition to providing technical assistance and mentorship to Arkansas startups, SVS will also host quarterly networking events to bring together researchers, entrepreneurs, investors and the general public to build community and learn more about ongoing research and development taking place across Arkansas and how it can be plugged into the larger research that is taking place across the nation.