College of Arkansas launches incubator for recreation startups

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The University of Arkansas is setting up a business incubator focused on entrepreneurs in the outdoor recreation industry – and a national search for a director of the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP) is underway.

  • The application process for startups starts in autumn, and the first round of founders starts the 12-week program in the spring semester.

  • The offices will be located in UA’s new Bentonville Education and Research Center – the Collaborative – which announced its first director yesterday.

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Why it matters: Helping startups grow will help build a hub of businesses in the industry, which accounted for $ 788 billion in consumer spending in 2019.

  • The university is also capitalizing on the interest in outdoor activities that has increased during the pandemic.

Details: Every year GORP will work with two cohorts to guide them through the phase of the idea up to the launch of their companies. Each cohort will consist of three startups.

  • Both UA students and non-students can apply.

  • The program includes virtual workshops, consultations and pitch competitions.

  • The participants will be introduced to experienced entrepreneurs and professionals from the industry.

The intrigue: Sarah Goforth, executive director of UA’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI), tells Axios that the program will put an emphasis on products and services that can be scaled, rather than mom and pop retail (think: a new type of fly rod) or golf clubs to improve your swing).

Flashback: Part of the OEI, GORP, and the Collaborative is funded by a $ 197.4 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, which announced the grant last year.

What to see: GORP falls under the umbrella of UA’s Greenhouse Incubator. Goforth hopes to have healthcare pilot programs and software incubators running in the near future.

Our thought bubble: Almost every outdoor enthusiast will recognize the acronym GORP for “good ol ‘raisins and peanuts” – a tried and true standard trail snack. Coincidence?

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