Jan 15, 2020

Arkansas’ First AI and Machine Learning Accelerator to Launch in January with Cohort of 14 Companies

Cohort of 14 U.S. and international startups to relocate to Bentonville for 12 weeks 

PRESS RELEASE – The first-ever Arkansas-based artificial intelligence and machine learning accelerator will launch later this month, with the goal of helping a cohort of startups within these fields connect to regional enterprise partners. 

The Fuel Accelerator, in its second iteration, will provide regular, hands-on education and workshops to a cohort of 14 companies from across the United States, Europe and Asia.  

These 14 companies will make their way to Northwest Arkansas, at the foot of the Ozark Mountains, for a 12-week, enterprise-ready accelerator that will provide them with access to other startup founders, industry experts, institutions of higher education, and public policy officials.

Fuel launched in late 2018 with eight startups participating in a supply chain-focused, 16-week program. The program helped its first cohort nurture relationships with key Fortune 500 companies through feedback sessions, training, pilots and demos. The accelerator is sponsored in large part by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) as a part of the state’s ongoing efforts toward promoting data science. 

“The Fuel Accelerator is a great way for entrepreneurs to gain valuable contacts and skills needed to advance their companies through growth and expansions,” said AEDC Director Mike Preston. “And, in turn, it allows us to promote Arkansas as the ideal location for up-and-coming tech companies to call home.”

Fuel returns with a cohort of startups utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science are some of the most disruptive technologies in the world today. They are critical enablers of many transformative opportunities having direct consequence to the enterprise,” said Director of Machine Learning Colin Shaw, of RevUnit, the digital transformation partner to some of the world’s largest enterprises and one the nation’s fastest growing companies according to Inc.

“For Fuel to cultivate these technologies and help some of the most innovative startups in the space bring their ideas to the enterprise is very powerful and a great opportunity for everyone involved.” 

The companies included in this year’s Fuel Accelerator, along with location of operation:  

Cognitive Talent Solutions – New York City, New York 

• Commerce.AI – Sunnyvale, California

• Curie – Seattle, Washington 

• DriveTrust – Rennes, France 

• Inferencery – Bentonville, Arkansas 

• issac.ai – Little Rock, Arkansas 

• Journey Foods – Chicago, Illinois 

• Sorcero – Washington, D.C. 

• SummerizeBot – Latvia/Belarus/South Korea

• swivl – Denver, Colorado 

• TPS Engage – New York/Romania/Dubai/South Korea

• Truckish – Memphis, Tennessee 

• Unmanned Life – San Francisco/London 

Vocinity – Martinsburg, West Virginia 

 “These 14 cohort companies have technology ranging from food innovation to digital commerce, customer success, human resource, AdTech, supply chain optimization, legal, and automated insight discovery,” said Taylor Hasley, Startup Junkie consultant and director of the Fuel Accelerator. 

 “We are confident the cohort will bring exponential gains to our enterprise partners from the efficiencies created in these areas,” he added. “The diversity and geographic reach of this cohort echo the level of opportunity and lifestyle Northwest Arkansas has to offer on a global scale.”

 Fuel is led by RevUnit and Startup Junkie. Curriculum for the accelerator is developed by RevUnit. The Bentonville-based company recently received a significant investment from Mountaingate Capital, a leading private equity firm based in Denver. The accelerator is facilitated by Startup Junkie, the Fayetteville-based, mission-driven entrepreneurial resource organization servicing the Arkansas community.

 Arkansas has seen tremendous growth in the investment in data sciences and technology-centered accelerators. In the last year, Startup Junkie was joined by Plug and Play out of San Francisco and the Center for Advancing Innovation out of Bethesda, Md., all three of which are funded in part by the Walton Family Foundation, the Bentonville-based charitable organization led by the family of Walmart founder Sam Walton. 

 “[The Fuel Accelerator] is exciting for the entire state of Arkansas because it illustrates that we are accomplishing a strategic plan, that we’re carrying out our desire to increase not only businesses that can excel in technology but also supply the existing industries here with the talent and technology that’s needed,” said Gov. Hutchinson at a September press event. 

 “The Fuel Accelerator has had success,” he added. “The second cohort will be from across the country, top-level companies. We’re going to be able to land some great companies that will stay right here when they see what all Arkansas has to offer.” 

 In 2017, the Arkansas General Assembly allocated $2 million to be used for accelerator programs. The goal, he said, was to recruit startups from across the nation to Arkansas to be mentored and build their company. 

“This accelerator program has exceeded all of our expectations,” Hutchinson said. “These programs have resulted in Arkansas becoming a micro hub of technology and startup companies. We’re looked at, nationally, as a leader because of these accelerator programs.”  

For more information about Fuel Accelerator, visit fuelaccelerator.com