Posted on December 7, 2023
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Written by: Angelita Faller

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After almost a full year of research and collaboration, UA Little Rock, the Venture Center, and the Little Rock Regional Chamber have jointly announced the launch of the Arkansas Tech Launch Exchange Program (AR Tech Launch) Dec. 6 during the 158th Little Rock Regional Chamber Annual Meeting.

This new initiative is designed to help accelerate and build technology-based businesses in Little Rock and Central Arkansas by recruiting international entrepreneurs, providing cap-exempt H-1B visas to locate here, and provide talent development and support services to enhance success. AR Tech Launch is modeled after successful entrepreneurship programs in New York and Boston.

AR Tech Launch addresses three issues critical for the state’s economic growth: the difficulty of attracting qualified international entrepreneurs to the United States because of limited commercial H-1B visa availability; the desire to attract these tech entrepreneurs to relocate and build new potential high-growth, start-ups in the Little Rock region; and the ability to add proven technology innovators to UA Little Rock’s faculty to help educate and train the next generation of start-up founders.

The Venture Center will work with UA Little Rock faculty to help select international entrepreneurs through a competitive curation process, similar to its award-winning work in fintech accelerators. Once selected, the entrepreneurs will work with the university to qualify for cap-exempt H-1B visas and then, upon receipt, relocate to Little Rock and begin collaborative academically-focused work with UA Little Rock while launching their technology-based business.

The Venture Center and Little Rock Regional Chamber will provide these entrepreneurs with additional mentor and operational support services to help them scale, grow, and provide high-wage employment opportunities for Arkansans.

AR Tech Launch will finalize the application process in early 2024. More information and application documents will be provided on the UA Little Rock and Venture Center websites.