Morning Plenary

Morning Plenary

After the past two years, when all of us were caught up in, concentrating on, or simply surviving the pandemic, politics, and global pandemonium, we will spend the opening morning of the conference building a new TBED commons. With record levels of federal and state funding available for strategic investment right now, there is a tremendous opportunity to be savored or squandered. It will take a broad community effort to get this right. The TBED community, a TBED commons, focusing on the future, can do this.

SSTI's annual conference provides an excellent place to start that effort. Past attendees and SSTI members know a unique community emerges during each of our annual conferences. Let's capitalize on it. This year's theme and the morning session is focusing on the future, recognizing and shaping how we move ahead, move up, move forward.

SSTI's president, Dan Berglund, will share his perennially popular thoughts on arising issues and trends in TBED policy and practice coming out of the past two years, drawing on special expert guests and long-time friends along the way. Then, tapping the extraordinary talent in attendance and working with specially invited participants, we'll explore fresh ideas, varying perspectives, find new partners, shore up solid facts, and share some laughs as we focus on the future we all want.

Uniquely Arkansas – but is it?

While you’re here in Arkansas, let’s complete your trip with a spin through the Natural State’s innovation network. You can choose your own adventure as you explore the ways Arkansas drives its new-age economy. Interactive group discussions will break down big questions, such as: “How can public-private partnerships advance innovation in key economic sectors?”, “How does a researcher make the jump to entrepreneur?”, and “Where is startup capital in the Heartland?”. Like any worthwhile travel experience, we’ll compare notes and see if your landscape back home is so different from Arkansas’. If so, how, and what can we learn from one another?

Lunch & Keynote Speaker: Carter Malloy

SSTI and the Arkansas Research Alliance are pleased to welcome Carter Malloy, founder and CEO of AcreTrader, as the keynote speaker for the 2022 Annual Conference. AcreTrader addresses the high cost of entry and the burden of farm management that keeps farmland inaccessible to the average investor. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to provide farmers with innovative routes to capital for expansion. In other words, Carter Malloy is applying his experience in finance, tech and agriculture to focus on the future — helping make the oldest industry there is more innovative.

When to contract out your regional capacity development efforts

When a region identifies a new TBED need, questions arise as to which existing organization and staff have the right expertise, availability and mindset to achieve success. Public and non-profit entities are often the answer, because these organizations are well-suited to keeping the initiative's focus on local prosperity, making long-term commitments, and weathering periods of low program income. However, a growing number of for-profit firms are offering to provide regions with innovation-entrepreneur support services, to direct local investment funds and to manage high-quality R&D facilities while balancing profit and economic development goals. Results for communities are, frankly, mixed. During this highly interactive session, we'll work openly and honestly with selected pros to develop takeaways toward the benefits and trade-offs for when and when not to contract, the hard questions to ask candidate firms, and the dos and don'ts before handing over your local TBED service delivery.

Lessons from successful university investment funds

Given higher education’s role in generating the knowledge and supporting the scientific personnel that catalyze the innovative new technologies developed by high-growth startups, the nation’s colleges and universities are invaluable assets to regional innovation economies. Some universities have moved beyond the traditional R&D role to further support local innovation systems by launching in-house venture capital funds and investing directly into the high-tech startups that leverage university IP. In this session, we will learn from several university VCs that are capitalized with university money, take equity or provide convertible debt, focus on university IP and/or faculty, and are managed by a university team. We will hear about the lessons learned in starting such a fund, navigating the web of partnerships and priorities, how “success” is defined, and other relevant topics.

Extending R&D assets to find 1+1=3

R&D is risky and costly – and getting more expensive each year, particularly lab facilities, equipment, and other instrumentation. Fortunately, there is a way to stretch R&D investments while also encouraging collaboration. We’ll explore transferable approaches that are being used to connect university researchers with one another, specialized research facilities and equipment and with innovation-centered industry to lower costs and broaden research capabilities. Bring questions, share your ideas, and learn from practitioners who have stood up shared facilities programs to benefit their regions.

Strengthening support among natural allies: EPSCoR and economic development orgs

A strong innovation economy needs a robust research enterprise, so universities, state EPSCoR programs and economic development organizations focused on encouraging economic growth through science and technology are natural allies. In this session, we’ll examine how some state EPSCoR programs and economic development groups have come to align their goals particularly through the strategic planning process to accomplish both their objectives.

VDOs and legal structures: Pros and cons of different strategies to build or expand your organization

The “venture development organization” label describes an entity that offers broadly similar services (technology development, entrepreneurial support and capital access), but the legal structures composing VDOs can vary greatly. This facilitated discussion will consider the benefits and disadvantages of leveraging different legal structures, including subsidiary entities, for-profits and CDFIs, to support a VDO’s work.

Innovation agenda & governors’ campaigns

Thirty-six states have gubernatorial elections this year — creating a significant opportunity to put science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship on your state’s agenda. Join your peers from around the country to discuss strategies and tactics for how to help candidates and new governors recognize the value of investing in TBED and promoting these policies in their platforms and budgets. Participants will have an opportunity to begin workshopping a strategy to employ back at home.

Federal innovation policy: Outlook and advocacy

In 2021, Congress passed billions in new funding for innovation and entrepreneurship. While the federal government works to implement those acts, Congress is moving forward with new budgets and new authorities, including the U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act. During this session, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, we will cover the outlook for Congressional action to support entrepreneurship and SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council priorities.