Northwest Arkansas is continuing to grow its startup and growth-stage company ecosystem by launching the second edition of the Fuel Accelerator. First held in 2018, the second iteration of the Fuel Accelerator is slated to return in 2020.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson was on hand today (Sept. 4), along with officials from the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences and the Northwest Arkansas Council and representatives from RevUnit and Startup Junkie, to announce the launch of the program.
The Fuel Accelerator aims to bring growth-stage companies working in artificial intelligence and machine learning to Northwest Arkansas. Once in Arkansas, the companies will participate in the 12-week accelerator, where they will be exposed to leading industry experts, startup founders and policy official, while also benefitting from workshops and other educational experiences.
“The second cohort of Fuel will be industry agnostic focusing on innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning that our key enterprise partners can leverage among various aspects of their business model,” said Taylor Hasley of Startup Junkie, Fuel program director. “As program director, I am excited about recruiting world-class talent to Northwest Arkansas,” he added, “guiding the cohort to meaningful and lasting relationships with our regional enterprises, and ultimately, to retain that talent and create new jobs in our community.”
A partnership between RevUnit and Startup Junkie, the Fuel Accelerator aims to match startups with related enterprises to facilitate growth. Participating in the program is designed to “accelerate the development of tangible technology solutions,” according to program officials.
The curriculum for the program is developed by RevUnit while Startup Junkie manages the facilitation of the program. The accelerator is also sponsored by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
“Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science are some of the most disruptive technologies in the world today. They are critical enablers of many transformative opportunities having direct consequence to the enterprise. For Fuel to cultivate these technologies and help some of the most innovative startups in the space bring their ideas to the enterprise is very powerful and a great opportunity for everyone involved,” said Director of Machine Learning Colin Shaw, of RevUnit.
The original Fuel Accelerator brought eight startups from around the United States to Arkansas for a 16-week program. Throughout the program, cohort participants met with Fortune 500 companies, where they built business relationships, held feedback sessions and more. At least one Fuel cohort company, Oculogx, moved to Arkansas to pursue business interests after the accelerator was over.
In order to participate in the program, companies must have secured initial funding/revenue and have one team member present in Northwest Arkansas during the program. During that time, office space will be provided at The Exchange in Bentonville.
Applications have opened for the program. Program officials expect interviews to begin this year, with finalists to be announced in January 2020.