Jul 15, 2021 - Business

University of Arkansas launches incubator for recreation startups

Illustration of a bike with quarters for wheels.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

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

  • The application process for startups will begin in the fall, and the first round of entrepreneurs will start the 12-week program in the spring semester.
  • Offices will be in UA's new Bentonville education and research hub — the Collaborative — which announced its first director yesterday.

Why it matters: Supporting the growth of startups 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 interest in outdoor activity, which soared during the pandemic.

Details: GORP will work with two cohorts each year to see them through the idea-to-launch stages of their companies. Each cohort will include three startups.

  • Both UA students and nonstudents are eligible to apply.
  • The program will include virtual workshops, consultations and pitch competitions.
  • 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 the program will have an emphasis on products and services that can be scaled up rather than mom-and-pop retail (think: a new type of fly rod or golf clubs to improve your swing).

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

What to watch: GORP falls under the umbrella of UA's Greenhouse Incubator. Goforth hopes to pilot health care and software incubator programs in the near future.

  • Neither is fully funded yet.

Our thought bubble: Just about any outdoor enthusiast will recognize the acronym GORP for "good ol' raisins and peanuts" — a time-tested and standard trail snack. Coincidence?

  • We think not.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios NW Arkansas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More NW Arkansas stories

No stories could be found

NW Arkansaspostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios NW Arkansas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more