Takeaways from the 2023 Heartland Forward Summit
More than 350 policy wonks, investors, entrepreneurs and rainmakers gathered Thursday in Bentonville for the third Heartland Forward Summit.
Why it matters: The summit's objective is to collectively elevate local and regional economies in 20 states in the middle of the U.S. — the heartland.
Details: The day included sessions on maternal and child care, the outdoor recreation economy, health care, mental health, entrepreneurship, next-generation mobility and biomimicry.
- Biomimicry mimics nature to solve human problems: one of the most familiar examples is Velcro, which uses the natural strategies of burr hooks to connect items.
Catch up quick: Amid networking events, big idea discussions and deal-making, Heartland Forward made three announcements of note last week:
1. Heartland Health Caucus — The organization launched a new nonpartisan legislative and policy group of health leaders that will exchange ideas on pressing health issues and develop policy approaches across Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
- The caucus will seek to simplify the health care system through public policy; advance legislation for telehealth, workforce and maternal health; and promote health as an economic issue.
2. Stepping Stone — Heartland Forward and Builders + Backers, a venture capital and accelerator firm, announced the expansion of the Stepping Stones program across all 20 heartland states following a pilot in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
- Stepping Stones is a year-long business accelerator open to entrepreneurs who've graduated from a two-month Idea Accelerator.
- It's designed to help young companies get on a pathway to $1 million in revenue.
3. Meanwhile, five entrepreneurs were awarded $25,000 each in funding, as well as spots in the Stepping Stones program.
- Gnargo Bike Co. and Abily, both of Fayetteville; FreeArm of Helena-West Helena; SecondKeys of Memphis, Tennessee; and drone maker NovAI of Tulsa received the checks without providing any equity.
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