Bryan Barnhouse's Research Recruits Get Results in Return

Bryan Barnhouse's Research Recruits Get Results in Return
Bryan Barnhouse, CEO of the Arkansas Research Alliance (Kerry Prichard)
Bryan Barnhouse was promoted to CEO of the Arkansas Research Alliance on Jan. 1. Previously, he served as the ARA’s chief operating officer and vice president of the ARA.
Prior to joining the ARA, Barnhouse worked with the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County in southeast Arkansas and managed Arkansas Economic Development Commission programs on foreign direct investment recruitment and trade opportunities with Asia. He has also worked at the International City/County Management Association in Washington and at Consensus Planning Group in Los Angeles.
Barnhouse has a master’s in public administration and a bachelor’s in international relations from the University of Southern California. He is a member of the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission.

What are some examples of the research that ARA Academy members are doing?

ARA Academy members work in a variety of Arkansas’ core competencies, like enterprise systems computing, distributed energy networks, nanomaterials, data science, drugs and personalized medicine. I’ll pick two.

The first is quite personal. An ARA scholar is creating a blood clot removal device to aid stroke victims. Had this device been available at the time of my dad’s stroke, maybe he would be in better shape today.

The other is a partnership between two ARA Academy members. Their technology promotes new bone growth with a mechanism to deliver antibodies to prevent infection.

What would you like the ARA to accomplish?

Our goal is to keep delivering innovation-based economic development to the state. To do this, we must grow and evolve.

This year, we’re expanding our ARA Academy from 24 to 33 top-level scientists. We’re moving into year two of our Impact Grants program, which has already realized a 9-1 return on investment. And we will continue to foster collaboration in Arkansas’ business and research communities to create new jobs and companies.

Is it hard to recruit talented, accomplished scholars to Arkansas?

There are challenges, of course, but Arkansas has strong research programs that help attract talent. The ARA recruits to those areas because they are strategic priorities for university investment. That translates into the academic freedom and resources to explore new ideas.

Ultimately, scientists want an environment that supports bringing their discoveries to life and provides the means to move truly novel results into the marketplace through industry, licensing or commercialization. All of that is in Arkansas to varying degrees.

How does the ARA sell the state?

Arkansas is personally involved in pursuing growth. For example, every new academy member is welcomed by the governor. Also, the collaborative network between the five member universities the ARA has fostered is uniquely Arkansan. Our state is open to doing whatever it takes to provide jump-start research.

What else do you wish our readers knew about your organization?

ARA Academy members represent a principal cohort of the total research talent in the state. Some of these researchers are working closely with Arkansas companies on innovation, product development and technology improvements. Business and industry leaders can look to universities as research partners and leverage in the quest for a competitive edge.