LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Wednesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed three acts into law which target growth in the state’s innovation and technology sector.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s (AEDC) Division of Science and Technology will administer all three programs.
The first act, the Arkansas Business and Technology Accelerator Act, will create a $2 million accelerator grant program for startup companies. Similar accelerator programs throughout the country have been found to significantly impact success rates of startup businesses. Corporate accelerators manage – usually through a non-profit incubator partner – events in which small innovation companies receive mentoring, resources, and industry connections. AEDC will seek out corporate sponsors to provide matching funds to create accelerator events throughout the state. Grants will be available to qualified applicants of up to $250,000 per event.
“Business accelerators have proven to be instrumental in growing jobs in the innovation and technology sector,” said AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston. “Arkansas is now in the spotlight thanks to Governor Hutchinson’s computer science education initiative, and if we want to build on this momentum, we need to act now to plant the seeds that will nurture our technology companies in their beginning stages. The business accelerators are just one component of the puzzle that will help us accomplish our goals.”
The second act establishes the Arkansas Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Matching Funds Program that will provide funds to match up to 50 percent of federal grant funds for qualifying companies. The program seeks to create and retain high-tech jobs, foster research, and increase the number of federal SBIR awards for startup and early-stage companies. The state will provide a 50 percent match up to a cap of $50,000 for Phase One and up to $100,000 for Phase Two.
Finally, the third act is an amendment to the Arkansas Acceleration Fund Act of 2011. It places advisory capacities under the Board of Directors for AEDC’s Division of Science and Technology. The Board will advise AEDC’s leadership on issues related to innovation and technology in the state.
“All three of these acts are intertwined to help entrepreneurs and small business owners get the support they need to continue our momentum in increasing our state’s footprint in the knowledge-based sectors,” Preston said.
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