A new startup accelerator will be coming to Northwest Arkansas soon.
Plug and Play, a California early investor company that specializes in corporate innovation and startup accelerators, is launching an accelerator focused on supply chain and logistics in Northwest Arkansas. The company plans to bring startups from around the globe to develop the startups in Northwest Arkansas’s fast-growing economy.
This accelerator is a collaboration between corporate partners J.B. Hunt, Tyson Foods, Walmart, as well as the Walton Family Foundation and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. The Northwest Arkansas Council will serve as the local coordinators for the accelerator.
Before the accelerator begins, Plug and Play will be working to identify challenges the region is facing in the supply chain and logistics sector. The company will then identify startups to develop solutions for these challenges.
According to Plug and Play, the accelerator program will include two cohorts of 10 companies each year. The program will consist of “workshops, mentorship sessions and summits…[that] focus on supply chain optimization, blockchain, last-mile delivery, warehouse automation, IoT sensors, predictive analytics, machine learning and more.”
“We are excited to accelerate and invest in startups in Northwest Arkansas as it is the birthplace of some of the world’s largest companies like Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt,” says Mike Zayonc, Founder of Plug and Play’s Supply Chain & Logistics program. “The founding partners in this program will be able to collaborate with our worldwide startup network right in their own backyard.”
Each startup participant will be matched with mentors who will work with them to refine their ideas and business models. The startups will have the opportunity to work with Walmart, J.B. Hunt and Tyson Foods to develop potential partnerships.
The startups will also pitch ideas to potential investors and customers at the end of each accelerator program.
“Technology is changing the way we move freight, and collaborating with Plug and Play gives us the opportunity to team-up with leading startups on solutions that will help our customers,” said John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt. “Bringing the Supply Chain and Logistics Accelerator program to Northwest Arkansas will also showcase the region’s status as an innovation hub, and we look forward to working with these startups on the next big idea.”
“Innovation that increases efficiency in our supply chain will help our team continue to be a competitive advantage for the company and ensure we can maintain everyday low prices for our customers however they want to shop,” said Greg Smith, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain, Walmart U.S. “By combining the strength of Walmart and the speed of startups, this partnership with Plug and Play will accelerate innovation and support our efforts to maintain a best-in-class supply chain.”
A launch event is expected to take place in Northwest Arkansas this summer.