Arkansas State University: New Directives and Resources in NE Arkansas Foster Innovative Entrepreneurship (Sponsored Report)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jul. 9, 2012 12:00 am  

Arkansas Biosciences Institute

In 2009, Governor Mike Beebe challenged Arkansas State University to increase its research activity to further fuel the economy of Northeast Arkansas. ASU has worked diligently to answer the charge, resulting in a new era of research and scholarly activity in Jonesboro. A few examples include:

• Investing in strong, research-oriented faculty by hiring faculty with excellent credentials, industry and business connections and a track record of publishing and patenting;

• Launching an annual Institute for Research Development, in which participating Faculty Fellows engage the complex process of securing federal, state and local/private funding;

• Associating with the Arkansas State University Research and Development Institute, Inc., a nonprofit corporation chartered to operate exclusively for the benefit of ASU by conducting sponsored program activities, protecting intellectual property and assisting in the commercialization of viable products and technologies.

These efforts, among many others, are already paying notable dividends. For example, ASU successfully increased the dollar amount of sponsored awards by approximately four fold from $7,400,000 in 2008 to $30,200,000 in 2011. These increases helped drive research expenditures up by about 250% in the last five years. The majority of these dollars are spent right here in Arkansas, particularly Northeast Arkansas, translating to jobs for students, technicians, new faculty, and community members.

An examination of the quality of faculty at ASU quickly reveals what is driving these significant increases. For example, Brandon Kemp, who joined the ASU College of Engineering in 2010 as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, received the prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation in June 2012 for his proposal “Interpretation of Electrodynamics for Modern Applications,” the first such award granted to a faculty member at ASU.

Kemp has considerable industry experience and continues to collaborate with industry leaders, including an international leader in the printing and imaging sector. In addition, several other faculty members at ASU enjoy fruitful relationships with businesses in the region, ranging from Nice-Pak to Camfill Farr to City, Water & Light of Jonesboro.

Many of these faculty members have laboratory space in the Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI) building on the ASU campus. One of five ABI campuses throughout the state created as the major research component of the Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000, the ABI at ASU is an 80,000 square foot, state-of-the-art multidisciplinary research facility. The ABI facility houses researchers and equipment specializing in agriculture and disease, molecular food science, plant metabolic engineering, plant-based protein production, and biofuels, among others.

A number of faculty members launched start-up companies and successfully pursued Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding along the way. Dr. Carole Cramer, Distinguished Professor of Biology at ASU and co-founder of Biostrategies LC along with her husband Dr. David Radin, was recently awarded the prestigious Tibbetts Award.

This award is presented to the top small businesses and individuals that have received funding from the SBIR and STTR programs. In addition to her work with BioStrategies LC, Dr. Cramer is an original inventor of the first FDA-approved, human enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) produced in a plant model. In May of 2012, the FDA approved the drug, which was developed and is being marketed for use in humans by Protalix Biotherapeutics, Inc. and Pfizer, Inc.

Companies like Biostrategies, LC are moving into the new Catalyst Innovation Accelerator, an Arkansas State University Research and Development Institute, Inc. (RDI) entity and a major economic development initiative of the Delta Center for Economic Development (DCED), a component of the ASU College of Business. The DCED coordinates the economic development outreach services of the university and works to provide a comprehensive approach to serving the businesses, governments, and citizens of Arkansas.

The DCED also offers a number of facilities, programs, and services to assist entrepreneurs and growing businesses. Housed in a 22,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility on the ASU campus, adjacent to the College of Business, the DCED facility includes executive offices, conference and training rooms, and an executive board room dedicated to fostering education and entrepreneurship. Additionally, the DCED runs a business incubation program.

The Krueger Drive facility in Jonesboro’s industrial park area offers several 150 square foot, furnished executive offices, training and conference rooms, and a 3,000 square foot area suitable for small scale manufacturing and/or warehouse or distribution type operations.

The DCED also works in conjunction with RDI through RDI’s Catalyst Innovation Accelerator which is housed on the ASU campus in Jonesboro in the ABI building. Catalyst’s facilities include eighteen laboratories, varying in size from 105 to 425 square feet, ten executive offices, and a conference room and reception area.

Clients residing in the Catalyst facility are literally steps away from research faculty, students, equipment and facilities in the Arkansas State University Colleges of Business, Engineering, Sciences and Mathematics, Agriculture and Technology, and Nursing and Health Professions.

Clients of Catalyst and the DCED’s business incubation program receive business services to drive success and growth, including business planning and market research services, student interns, and access to ASU faculty experts, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, and alt.Consulting.

Collectively, the latter provide comprehensive business services and professional training opportunities to both the ASU and Northeast Arkansas communities. These services include Small Business Innovation Research proposal development, business plan writing, networking and professional development.

For example, the Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC) is a training and research service, provided by the Small Business Administration, that exists to provide professional assistance to businesses in the region. Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (AMS) is a program of the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority that provides management and operational consulting to existing Arkansas manufacturers. Lastly, alt.Consulting conducts feasibility studies and provides business and financial planning services, among other things.

For more information on exciting new developments in research and scholarship at ASU, click here. Learn more about what’s going on at the DCED. Inquire about opportunites with the Catalyst Innovation Accelerator.



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