Jun 15, 2020

Startup Junkie Foundation Launches Science Venture Studio to Help Science- and Technology-Based Companies Apply for Federal Grants

Project made possible with Walton Family Foundation support and collaboration with Innovate Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas Council, and University of Arkansas


Startup Junkie Foundation, in collaboration with Innovate Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Council and the University of Arkansas, has launched a project for helping Arkansas science- and technology-based startups apply for and obtain federal grant funding. The project, dubbed Science Venture Studio (SVS), will provide an in-the-trenches approach to securing federal funding targeted at early stage commercialization. 

Science Venture Studio is led by Katie Thompson, founder and CEO of Rooted Startups. The SVS team will also include a range of experts, including a grant specialist, University of Arkansas Commercialization Fellows, key advisors and a number of science and technology mentors. Thompson and her team will provide in-depth guidance to small businesses preparing their Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) proposals as well as support in market validation, business model development and technology mentoring.  

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arkansas,” said Thompson. “Through helping early stage technology companies access federal research grant funding, SVS will help to retain highly skilled and entrepreneurial people in our communities, grow technologies that can have a global impact and ultimately boost the high-tech economy within our state.”

Science Venture Studio, as a division of Startup Junkie Foundation, will collaborate with partners – including Innovate Arkansas and the Northwest Arkansas Council – to identify, recruit and vet companies and technology eligible for federal funding. The partnership will accelerate research and commercialization efforts aligned to the needs of the regional industry.

In addition to providing technical assistance and mentorship to Arkansas startups, SVS will also host quarterly networking events to bring together researchers, entrepreneurs, investors and the general public to build community and learn more about ongoing research and development taking place across Arkansas and how it can be plugged into the larger research that is taking place across the nation. 

“Arkansas underperforms our peer regions in accessing funding for commercialization of promising high-risk high-reward technologies,” said Doug Hutchings, entrepreneur in residence at Innovate Arkansas and senior SVS advisor. “At the same time, angel capital is limited which makes it especially important to expand access to these programs. The potential impact is outsized with over $8M a year in additional startup funding possible if we can execute on the opportunity.” 

Science Venture Studio is made possible with the financial support of the Walton Family Foundation, having granted nearly $500,000 to Startup Junkie Foundation to administer the project.

A portion of that funding will provide support for two student fellowships each semester for at least the next two years. Students, selected on the alignment of their skills and interests, will be partnered with an SVS client company to assist in market research, customer discovery and more.

Science Venture Studios officially launched earlier this month.   

Additional quotes from SVS partners: 

David Sanders, Innovate Arkansas: 

“In 2017, Governor Hutchinson and Secretary Preston catalyzed the SBIR Matching Funds Program with a two-part goal to increase high-tech jobs and research. The SVS program adds fuel to the matching fund program, to the University of Arkansas and to the Northwest Arkansas region. It is no mistake that Universities receiving the most federal funding are also the highest ranked: Harvard, Stanford and Chancellor Steinmetz’s former University, Ohio State, to name a few. If this helps unlocks a deeper research collaboration between the University of Arkansas and industries such as Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and JB Hunt, there is no reason we cannot have a top-ranked University and top-ranked region.  To quote our friend Ross DeVol, “the relationship between entrepreneurial research and economic growth is well established” and this is the jumpstart we need.” 

Jeannette Balleza Collins, Northwest Arkansas Council: 

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are key to driving economic diversity in our region. 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.”

Edward Haddock, U.S. Small Business Administration: 

“Arkansas’s partners are continually collaborating on ways to increase an already burgeoning ecosystem. Supporting very early stage technology companies gain access to federal research funding helps place Arkansas on the cutting edge of research that can have a global impact while bringing economic value to our state.”