Selected by the Department of Commerce Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge as one of 20 projects nationwide to receive federal funding for the advancement of regional competitiveness, The ARK is a new mentorship-driven business accelerator program for technology startups. The ARK is a Winrock International, U.S. Programs, initiative in partnership with the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the NorthWest Arkansas Community College. It is made possible due to funding from three federal agencies, Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Employment and Training Administration (ETA), as well as Winrock International, Gravity Ventures, Fund for Arkansas’ Future and Arkansas Development Finance Authority.
The ARK is a full member of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN). GAN was formerly known as the TechStars Network, is a partner of the Startup America initiative and consists of independently owned and operated organizations that utilize a mentorship-based startup accelerator model.
The ARK is a coordinated initiative to recruit and accelerate tech startups advancing three strong industry clusters in Northwest Arkansas:
(2) Transportation & logistics
(3) Food processing
The ARK has performed technology assessments through extensive interviews with key representatives in each of the industry clusters to identify a set of technical problems needing solutions and to help direct bootcamp participant recruitment. The ARK will recruit and select 10 young startup companies, comprised of 2-5 people each, to participate in a Northwest Arkansas-based entrepreneurial bootcamp challenge over the course of 14 weeks starting in June 2013.
In exchange for a 6% equity stake in each company, our companies will each receive $20,000, product development and design support, promotion, networking with advisors and funders, as well as intensive mentoring from a group of community-based and national mentors. The focus areas of the bootcamp will be Customer Acquisition/Market Traction, Investor Relations and Programming/Product Development.
The ARK will operate two bootcamp challenges with the goals of each challenge to introduce 15 viable ventures, primed for funding, pilot-ready and positioned for new job creation, to the region, and two participating companies are guaranteed to be offered access to optional funding of up to $150K per company.
All bootcamp participants will have 24×7 access to The Iceberg, Northwest Arkansas’ new coworking facility located in the heart of downtown Fayetteville, and its amenities.