Small tech businesses are thriving in the Arkansas Research and Technology Park.
Matt Francis is working with silicon carbide, a cutting edge material, to create electronics that work in extreme temperatures.
"What we're trying to do has never really been tried before," he says. "There's only a very few handful of people in the world looking at it."
His company, Ozark Integrated Circuits is doing it right here in Fayetteville, alongside dozens of other businesses budding out of UA research.
"Our goal with the Arkansas Research and Technology Park is to create a collaborative community of companies working together with the university faculty and students," says Phillip Stafford, President of the UA Technology Development Foundation.
New businesses start at the Genesis Technology Incubator where they have low rent and can make sure an idea is commercially viable. Successful startups move up to the Innovation Center to work on more advanced research and development.
Mature companies then graduate to the Enterprise Center where they can actually start commercial production.
"By building these companies we're creating more opportunities for graduates of the University of Arkansas to live and work in the area and give back to the economy," Stafford says. "But we're also building a technologically skilled workforce that is essential for any effort we might have to recruit other complimentary companies to the area."
Arkansas Power Electronics was one of the first businesses to move in when the park opened in 2004 with just a few people in the Genesis building, says Jared Hornberger, the company's director of manufacturing.
The company now has 45 employees and Hornberger says the tech park was the key to success.
"We started in a 100 square foot office," he says. "But we were able to use the university facilities... We're able to use very expensive equipment and pay an hourly fee whereas we wouldn't be able to buy that equipment as a small business."
Hornberger says the company is keeping Fayetteville graduates in the Natural State.
"We're able to take some of the top people, some very bright people from the University of Arkansas," he says. "We've actually recruited a lot of people that graduated from the U of A that have gone off to the East coast or West coast or other big areas for electronics. We've been able to bring them back, because they wanted to come back and live in Arkansas."
Francis is excited to see where his research will lead, and says the rest of the Genesis building is filled with other ventures that are just as promising.
"It sits at near capacity all the time, and for that to be happening that means there's lots of people doing high tech work in these small businesses," he says. "There's a lot of firsts happening here, and hopefully a lot more in the future."