On March 27-29, the IC² Institute was pleased to host nine participants from the Northwest Arkansas area for an Austin Immersion Visit, involving over 25 Austin community members. Arkansas participants included representatives from Walton Family Foundation, the University of Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Council, leading Northwest Arkansas companies, and The University of Texas at Austin.
This collaboration is part of a program created by IC² Institute to help the Northwest Arkansas region develop an entrepreneurship ecosystem. The program is designed to 1) assess policies, player and programs in the Northwest Arkansas region, 2) engage in pilot collaborative programs in entrepreneurship between Austin and Northwest Arkansas, and 3) develop a nationally distinctive strategy for entrepreneurship for the region.
Specifically, the week revolved around four key ideas necessary for Northwest Arkansas’s entrepreneurial future:
- Forming Industry Clusters
- Enhancing Industry-University Collaboration
- Developing New Funding Access Strategies for Startups
- Recruiting and Retaining Workforce/Talent for the Future
Sessions also highlighted the IC² institute’s new emphasis on driving rural and remote city entrepreneurship. During the visit, Austenites and Arkansans worked together to create a collaborative environment, linking ideas from NW Northwest Arkansas with those provided by Austin stakeholders. Further, an action-oriented road map integrating the four key ideas was developed. In a final report, the IC² institute will use the road map to propose practical activities to grow and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northwest Arkansas.
The Walton Family Foundation, who is the program sponsor, creates access to opportunity for people and communities. It is a family-led foundation that tackles tough social and environmental problems with urgency and a long-term approach to create access to opportunity for people and communities. The foundation strives to live in a world where people can accomplish anything when they have opportunity and encouragement.
The IC² Institute conducts research and programs to validate the impact of technological innovation on regional economic development with collaboration among the university, government, and private sectors. IC² is extending its research focus from urban ecosystems supporting entrepreneurship to exploring the shape and action of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural and isolated-city regions of the world in order to support economic growth.
 Economic Development: Generating Entrepreneurs (EDGE) Building NW Northwest Arkansas’ Future program.