New program at U of A to support outdoor recreation entrepreneurs


The University of Alberta’s new Outdoor Recreation Entrepreneurship Program will support graduate students as well as entrepreneurs and small business owners in Northwest Arkansas.

A new program is being developed at the U of A that will train and support regional entrepreneurs focused on hospitality, service and experience businesses focused on outdoor recreation, as well as start-ups. Outdoors industry product design and development ups.

The program is supported by a donation of $ 4.1 million from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.

“This grant will help us create an entrepreneurial culture around outdoor recreation and more,” said Matt Waller, Dean of Sam M. Walton College of Business. “We couldn’t create these programs for students, innovators, startups and small businesses without the support. “

Program partners include the Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation and Executive Education Program at Walton College; the College of Education and Health Professions; the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation; and the Economic Development Division.

The program will take advantage of the growing wave of student interest in starting new service and product companies that capitalize on Northwest Arkansas’ growing importance as an outdoor recreation destination. It will also serve those who are interested in pursuing scalable businesses and developing regionally focused businesses.

The funding will support events and workshops throughout the three-year funding period, designed to build community support and expertise for outdoor recreation innovation and business development. It will allow the creation of three signature programs:

  • The Undergraduate Certificate in Outdoor Products and Services: This 15-credit certificate will include immersive courses and in-depth interaction with industry partners. Starting in their second year, students of the program will participate in a three-hour introduction to the leisure industries to lay the foundations for the remaining courses, including the economic, environmental, cultural, political and ethical aspects of the industries. Students will then select one of two six-hour tracks – one focused on service, hospitality, and experiences, and the other on scalable product ideas. This program is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees of the U of A and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
  • The Master of Science in Product Innovation: Designed to appeal to recent STEM graduates as well as those with no expertise in product or business development, this exterior product-focused program will be delivered through online courses and on-site experiences at the university’s site in Bentonville, the Collaborative. Students will design, validate and prototype products and benefit from intensive mentoring and pilot opportunities with industry partners. This program is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees of the U of A and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
  • The Greenhouse business incubator: Located at the Bentonville Collaborative, the greenhouse will provide broad support to small businesses and extensive product incubation for outdoor recreation entrepreneurs. This includes both residents of Northwest Arkansas and college degree-seeking students. The Greenhouse will serve as a scalable membership-based program for entrepreneurs developing small businesses with regional service models, including those aimed at the burgeoning cycle tourism ecosystem. All members will have access to coworking space, student interns, consultations, regular workshops and community development events. Entrepreneurs looking for scalable businesses will have the opportunity to apply for an intensive 12-week product incubation program – Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program – which will be implemented twice a year. GORP participants will be eligible for support and admission to the university’s Venture Mentoring Service.

“Enjoying and sharing our natural environment makes so much sense for Northwest Arkansas – personally in terms of health, socially to build community, and economically to attract and retain talent and tourism dollars. The U of A is uniquely positioned to support our emerging outdoor scene, ”said Jon Johnson, who led the collaborative proposal and chairs the company’s strategy, entrepreneurship and innovation department at Walton. Middle School. “Investments by the Walton family and local governments in trails and other outdoor infrastructure have already generated returns on investment in the region, including the University of Arkansas. The Ozarks factor has caused many students to choose to attend the U of A. This grant will only accelerate that.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A offers internationally competitive education in over 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes to more than $ 2.2 billion for the Arkansas economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while providing training in professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the U of A among the top 3% of US colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. American News and World Report ranks the U of A among the best public universities in the country. Find out how the U of A is working to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.

About the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation: Established in 1987, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation supports education and community initiatives in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

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