Rod Ford's nGage Labs to Open Analytics Center in River Market

by Mark Carter and Lance Turner  on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 10:09 am  

Rod Ford, CEO of nGage Labs of Scottsdale, Ariz.

'Home Court Advantage'

Ford, who lives in Little Rock and commutes to and from Arizona, said Little Rock and the River Market District provided a "home court advantage" when he was running CognitiveData. He said the company would bring in clients from out of state. 

"Clients would actually ask to visit," Ford said. "They get tired of Dallas and Chicago and want to see something unique. There are so many things they can do in Arkansas -- duck hunt, float the Buffalo -- and the River Market has that energy that attracts people."

Ford said that kind of energy also attracts the kind of technical talent he hopes to recruit to nGage. He also said he hopes to forge some sort of partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, but that such partnerships are not "foundational to our success."

In June, UALR announced plans to establish the UALR George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center, which would explore ways to leverage so-called "big data" in variety of applications, including medical and high-tech manufacturing. UALR said the center, located on the fourth floor of its Engineering and Information Technology building, would be available for use by private companies.

The center is led by Mary Good, a nationally recognized scientist who serves as special advisor on economic development to UALR and the AEDC. Good is also a former board member of Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock, a publicly traded data services company headquartered in the River Market. Under Ford, CognitiveData had several reseller agreements with Acxiom.

Also Friday, Ford expressed interest in the proposed Little Rock tech park, saying that he'd like to see it located in downtown Little Rock. If that were the case, nGage would like to be "the anchor tenant." But Ford said he is "on the sidelines" concerning the debate over the park's location.

The tech park authority board is considering three locations for the park: downtown along Main Street, the Sears building on South University Avenue, and a site adjacent to the UALR campus.



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