UA report maps out funding options for startups and small businesses

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 652 views 

A new report released by the University of Arkansas examines a broad cross-section of the funding options available to startups and small businesses in Arkansas.

A team of collaborators across the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Division of Economic Development at the UA produced the Arkansas Capital Scan. According to a news release, it’s modeled after a similar report published each year by the University of Oregon, the Oregon Capital Scan.

“The report overviews angel and venture capital investments, crowdfunding, grants from governmental and philanthropic bodies, and loans from banks and credit unions,” the release said. “It also provides an analysis of other activities influencing the development of the entrepreneurial sector in the state, such as the proliferation of Entrepreneurship Support Organizations (ESOs) and patent filing trends.

The 86-page report, intended to be an annual publication, is intended to assist policymakers, investors, and other stakeholders in identifying gaps and opportunities in support of small businesses.

Sarah Goforth, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Cash Acrey, managing director of the Master of Science in Finance Program in the Walton College of Business, co-led the Arkansas Capital Scan project.

“We know that 2020 was an anomalous year to be examining any part of the economy, and that was certainly the case for the flow of resources to small businesses and startups in Arkansas,” Goforth said in the release. “That said, this project has helped us understand quantitatively what we discuss from a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective every day within the ESO community. That is, how well are we faring in Arkansas in our ability to provide emergency support to small businesses, and how do we stack up against peer regions in our ability to capitalize high-growth, technology-based firms?”

Over 20 undergraduate and graduate students from the UA contributed to this year’s report. In addition to Pitchbook and SEC filings, a variety of databases, interviews and surveys were used to collect information for the study.

“We posed to our students a seemingly straightforward question: where is the money? What sort of funds are flowing to founders in Arkansas, and where are the gaps?” Acrey said. “Our hope is that by including students in the creative process of the Arkansas Capital Scan, we empower the next generation of finance professionals in Arkansas to understand how to navigate and improve the capital landscape for our founders.”