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Students will be able to get hands-on experience with early-stage technology startups through a new program being launched by Startup Junkie in collaboration with the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Innovate Arkansas and the Northwest Arkansas Council.

Supported through a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, the Science Venture Studio supports early-stage technology ventures in their pursuit of milestones needed to receive non-dilutive federal funding. The grant includes support for two student fellowships per semester for the next two years. 

Each fellow will be partnered with an SVS client company to work over the course of a semester to conduct market research, customer discovery, and other duties as needed to reach the milestones the companies have identified for a successful Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) proposal. 

“The SVS team will encompass a group of experts that are highly skilled in helping small businesses apply for federal research grants,” said Katie Thompson, the CEO of Rooted Startups, who has been tapped as SVS director. 

“Having students on our team that are learning from a distinguished entrepreneurial program at the U of A and being able to apply their knowledge with our clients will be invaluable for a successful SBIR or STTR submission,” Thompson said. 

These students will be selected based on the alignment of their skills and interests with SVS client companies’ needs. They will be an essential member of the team during that time period and will receive training and coaching through the SVS and the U of A’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation during the period of their fellowship.

“Immersive experiences that embed students in the fast-paced, ambiguous environment of an early-stage venture are an essential ingredient of entrepreneurial education,” said Sarah Goforth, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“The SVS program will provide essential support to companies at their stage of highest risk, and the fellows — in addition to getting a front seat on that ride — will be selected for their potential to bring tangible value and expertise to these teams.”

Applications will open in late August, and fellows will receive a stipend. The fellowship is intended for graduate students from any discipline, but exceptional upperclassmen will also be considered.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are key to driving economic diversity in our region,” said Jeannette Balleza Collins, entrepreneurial development director at the Northwest Arkansas Council. “Strong connectivity between industry leaders driving innovation and entrepreneurs developing ventures is important to increase the federal commercialization funds flowing to Arkansas, and SVS will be a critical partner in helping inventors in startup mode gain access to resources.”

Special thanks to our major investors for their support of the Northwest Arkansas Council and our work in the region: