Biosciences in Arkansas

9 Jan, 2012

By: Governor Mike Beebe

When deciding where to locate your new or expanding biotech business, look no further than Arkansas.

Located in the center of America’s heartland, Arkansas is also in the center of the burgeoning 21st century entrepreneurial economy. This economic energy helped companies like Tyson Foods and Riceland succeed and is now being applied to the biosciences. One of the reasons for this success is because Arkansas partners with scientists and entrepreneurs who are leading many efforts for enhanced health care throughout the world. The momentum is building around leading-edge science in a region with a very desirable quality of life.

Here in Arkansas you will discover the secret to your success will be found in our knowledgeable and trained workforce, our highly competitive business climate, and our dedication to growing bioscience companies in The Natural State.

Agricultural Biosciences
The agricultural biosciences sector in the state includes companies such as Riceland Foods, the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice, located in Stuttgart, and Tyson Foods, the world’s largest producer of protein products including chicken, beef, and pork. Tyson operates a food-safety laboratory near its Springdale headquarters, which provides the latest technology in food testing and research.

In addition, the Department of Poultry Science and the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas includes a complex of teaching, research, and extension facilities. Also at the university level, the University of Arkansas at Monticello is home to the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, a University of Arkansas Center of Excellence provides an umbrella for all the University of Arkansas’s activities in forest-based resource teaching, research, and extension. The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station is the statewide research component of the University of Arkansas’s Division of Agriculture and is the primary research support agency for Arkansas farmers, food processors, and related industries. Research topics include issues that impact the families, communities, and natural resources associated with Arkansas agriculture and related enterprise.

Research-related organizations in Arkansas that focus on agricultural bioscience include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, which conducts research targeted to develop a scientifically sound basis for regulatory decisions to reduce risks associated with FDA-regulated products. This research is aimed at evaluating the biological effects of potentially toxic chemicals or microorganisms; defining the complex mechanisms that govern their toxicity; understanding critical biological events in the expression of toxicity; and developing methods to improve assessment of human exposure, susceptibility, and risk. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart conducts research to help the U.S. rice industry remain competitive in the global marketplace, and the USDA Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center conducts research in fish diseases, nutrition and feeds development, chemical registration, and water quality management/production systems.

Biomedical Biosciences
The Arkansas Biosciences Institute is an agricultural and medical research consortium dedicated to improving the health of Arkansans. Scientists with the five member organizations (Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) focus on agriculture and basic and clinical scientific research that will lead to health improvement, especially in the area of tobacco-related diseases.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), a research university which houses the state’s only medical school, teaching hospital, graduate school, and six centers of excellence and institutes, transforms cutting-edge research findings into new identification, treatment, and prevention methods for cancer, infectious diseases, imaging, substance abuse, and behavioral problems. UAMS Arkansas BioVentures and its Technology Licensing Office translate UAMS research into products that benefit human health. BioVentures offers companies access to university resources, both at UAMS and at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and a business incubator facility.

The University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation manages the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in Fayetteville. One of the research facilities in the park is GENESIS, a technology-oriented business incubator that offers a variety of services to qualifying technology-intensive entrepreneurs who desire to base their operations in Northwest Arkansas during the critical early stages of company development. The University of Arkansas Innovation Center promotes specialized skills training, education, research, and technical support and provides office and laboratory space for technology-intensive companies, especially those graduating from the GENESIS Technology Incubator.

The Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) is a collaboration of research universities and private sector leaders whose mission is to create greater economic opportunities in Arkansas by advancing university-based research and innovation with the goal of incubating new business and creating high-paying jobs in the state. The ARA is working to raise funds that will be used to recruit Eminent Scholars in a number of scientific fields, including the biosciences.

Another important support organization for biosciences companies is the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority (ASTA), which works to advance the talent and innovation necessary for Arkansas to prosper. ASTA administers several programs for companies and organizations conducting research in Arkansas. Innovate Arkansas, a joint program of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Winrock International, focuses on encouraging technology-based innovations and job creation in Arkansas by working with new, technology-based entrepreneurs as they work to turn new inventions and high-tech service concepts into viable commercial enterprises.

Arkansas offers bioscience companies access to a well-qualified and affordable workforce. Because of the existing cluster of businesses already located in the state, the workforce is prepared for jobs created by new companies in this sector.

ASTA administers Research and Development incentive programs that provide incentives for university-based research, in-house research and R&D in start-up, technology-based companies.

Another program administered by ASTA is the Seed Capital Program, which can provide up to $500,000 in working capital to help support the initial capitalization or expansion of technology-based companies located in Arkansas.

Other ASTA programs that support Arkansas technology business include the Applied Research Grant Program, the Technology Development Program, the Technology Transfer Assistance Grant Program, and the Centers for Applied Technology Program.

Start-up biosciences companies will also find significant value in the Arkansas Equity Investment Incentive Program, administered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. This program provides a discretionary incentive targeted toward new, technology-based businesses.

For more information on how to make your bioscience grow and succeed in Arkansas, contact the Arkansas Economic Development Commission at 1-800-ARKANSAS or