Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development


Little Rock, AR


Project Name

Innovation Fund Program





Award Amount

Federal Share

Local Match




The Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development will launch the Innovation Fund Program to serve the state of Arkansas. Despite several successful entrepreneurial support programs in Arkansas, the state needs to enhance the ecosystem for early-stage entrepreneurs and innovators. The earliest proof-of-concept programming to help aspiring entrepreneurs validate their technologies, ideas, and business models is still lacking.

This project will help provide the full range of services to aspiring entrepreneurs and new business, providing optimal chances for economic development. The Innovation Fund Program is a proof-of-concept business accelerator training program designed to assist teams and potential start-up companies emerging from universities and small communities in Arkansas. Participating teams will enter a rigorous 12-week training program where they document their business model and test it in the marketplace. Instructors and mentors will guide the teams to success and help them access up to $50,000 of private investment capital to launch their company. The goal of the Innovation Fund Program is to develop innovative businesses that can grow and scale quickly, thereby enhancing the entrepreneurial environment, creating new economic development, adding to job growth, and retaining talent in the state.

By the end of the three year grant period, Winrock anticipates sixty teams will directly benefit from the training program, successfully starting 30 or more new viable business ventures each leveraging an average of $25,000 in private capital.