Dedication, Opening Set For A-State Innovation System
JONESBORO – There is one thing Arkansas State University has always done, and done well — put knowledge and research together to make communities stronger. With the opening of the new Innovation System, Arkansas State will continue to add to that legacy.
A group of prestigious speakers ushered in the three locations of the A-State Innovation System at the grand opening dedication ceremony, Monday, July 17, at 10 a.m. at the corner of Cate St. and Church St, directly across from The Garage.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, A-State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse, President of Ritter Communications Alan Morse, Controller of Nucor-Yamato Keith Prevost, Chief Transformation Officer for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission Amy Fecher, and Federal Co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority Chris Masingill provided remarks.
“The A-State Innovation System is designed to help both students and community members,” said Ty Keller, who was hired last October to direct the system. “We aim to connect both innovators and entrepreneurs to resources that will help them create new products and/or start new businesses.”
A-State Innovate is located in three different Jonesboro locations: The Garage at 219 South Church Street, a maker space/collaboration space; The Shop at 5501 Krueger Drive, a machine shop/woodshop that will be located on the ASU-Newport-Jonesboro campus; and The Lab at 504 University Loop West, a research facility and business incubator operated by the Arkansas State University Research and Development Institute (RDI) located in the Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI).
Through the integration of innovation, start-up support, technology transfer and partnerships with businesses and communities, the Innovation System provides opportunities for entrepreneurs to access resources and bring ideas to the marketplace.
“A-State Innovate is an entrepreneurship/innovation ecosystem, which means we will attempt to provide and connect members with everything necessary to create products or start businesses,” noted Keller. “Our physical locations will provide tools for design and development and produce an atmosphere of collaboration with other innovators and entrepreneurs.”
The Garage is a makerspace and co-work space perfect for creativity and collaboration on innovative projects. The available services and equipment focus on design and creation of unique prototypes, ranging from 3D modeling and printing software to wood- and metal-working equipment. Also available on site are a conference room and five leasable offices.
The Lab business incubator is geared toward bioscience, engineering and technology start-ups within ABI at A-State. The inclusion of The Lab in A-State Innovate is based upon an affiliation between A-State Innovate and RDI for its Catalyst Innovation Center. Private access to lab and office space is available and will provide high-tech start-ups with the tools necessary for research, development and commercialization.
The Shop, at 5501 Krueger Drive on the ASU-Newport-Jonesboro campus in the Industrial Park, focuses on industrial-scale solutions for manufacturing and more technical prototypes. Similar to the Garage, the Shop equipment is more advanced in nature and will help provide an accurate proof of concept.
The Innovation System was born from an i6 Challenge grant for $500,000 awarded in February 2016 to the Delta Center for Economic Development (DCED) from the Economic Development Administration (EDA). A-State utilized the i6 funds to leverage local, state and federal partnerships for the creation of the A-State Innovation System. Combined with $886,967 in in-kind matching, A-State's i6 project had $1.39 million in total support.
The goal for A-State Innovate is to meet two identified needs of the region: coordination and streamlining of support services and resources for entrepreneurs and inventors, and the fostering of opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in rural east Arkansas communities.
“Our innovation system will provide guidance and help with most aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship, including help obtaining patents and trademarks and coordinating market research and business planning. Once a member has developed a product and/or formulated a solid business plan, we will attempt to set the member up with mentors in their industry, as well as attempt to locate the funding necessary to start their business,” Keller added.
“We want to give our members all the tools necessary to pursue their innovative ideas. In some cases that may mean, if they just want to build something cool for personal use, the tools are accessible. In other situations, members may have aspirations to start a new business or create and sell a new product. Regardless of their goals, we are here to help them achieve.”