The Validation Fund is an evergreen, not-for-profit fund dedicated to deploying early-stage awards to validation-stage Arkansas startup companies. The Validation Fund’s purpose is to aid in the creation of jobs and economic prosperity for Arkansas by providing needed early-stage capital to promising companies.
An established investment capital continuum consists of the following capital stages: Proof-of-Concept, Validation, Angel, and Venture. The lack of capital at the validation stage has created a competitive disadvantage for Arkansas entrepreneurs and limited the opportunity to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy. As a result, Arkansas is missing growth opportunities.
The Validation Fund responds to the need for early-stage capital by closing the validation capital gap in Arkansas. The Validation Fund was seeded with a $1 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation for Northwest Arkansas companies and plans to make investments of $50,000 to $150,000 in 8-10 validation stage companies over the next two years. The Fund also plans to raise an additional $6 million over time to invest throughout the rest of the state in seven targeted industries:
- Transportation, distribution, and logistics
- Agriculture, food, and natural resources
- Financial services
- Data sciences, advanced analytics, and software development
- Energy and power electronics.
Winrock will then leverage existing entrepreneurial support programs, such as Innovate Arkansas and the Innovation Fund (I-Fund), to provide technical assistance and counseling to companies seeking investment.