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Innovation in the Heartland

StartupNWA is focused on supporting innovation and building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northwest Arkansas.

The region’s innovation economy is underpinned by three Fortune 500 companies — Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. — along with over a thousand globally known suppliers. In addition, the University of Arkansas plays an integral role in supporting local startups by connecting companies with the next generation of tech talent.

Entrepreneurial Support Across the Business Lifecycle

Throughout the region, key entrepreneurial support organizations help companies from ideation to scalability. These include Endeavor Heartland, Fuel Accelerator, Plug and Play Tech Center, Startup Junkie, University of Arkansas Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program and University of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, just to name a few. Abundant business services, including consulting, programming, events, coworking, training, mentorship and investor relations, are available for entrepreneurs innovating in the areas of data analytics, global supply chain, omnichannel retail, ecommerce, food, consumer technologies, healthtech, life sciences and beyond.

Community Collisions Around Unique Events

The Heartland Summit, NWA Tech Summit and NWA TechFest are just a sampling of Northwest Arkansas’ signature events that rally communities around innovation, technology, startups, entertainment, food and talent development. In addition, StartupNWA maintains a calendar of events to help get plugged into the NWA ecosystem and connect with founders and aspiring entrepreneurs

Focus on Venture Capital

Despite the influx of new startups and entrepreneurs in the Heartland, areas outside of “traditional” coastal economic centers still struggle to access venture capital funding. This reality limits resources to support entrepreneurship and hinders economic growth. 

To create new pathways to venture capital, organizations partner to bring funders to Northwest Arkansas and create opportunities for peer-to-peer connectivity with startups. For example, our new Venture Capital Immersion series brings top-tier VC firms into direct contact with the Northwest Arkansas startup ecosystem through pairings with potential corporate strategics, LPs, and relevant and investable startups. In addition, the 412 Angels network is a first-of-its-kind angel investing program that is helping to educate new investors and support early-stage start-ups in the corridor connecting Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas.

There is a robust support system for startups in NWA. The number of these organizations has surged, especially in the last decade, reflecting an ecosystem ripe for further investment.