The gift will establish the University of Arkansas Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I3R) and support efforts to strengthen the university's cross-disciplinary research capacity, expand the scope of discoveries made by University of Arkansas researchers, increase the velocity with which discoveries are transferred to the marketplace, and position the university among the top ranks of U.S. public research institutions. To that end, the institute will focus on five overlapping innovation clusters — data science, food and technology, materials science and engineering, bioscience and bioengineering research in metabolism, and integrative systems neuroscience.
Some $88 million of the gift will support the institute's work, while most of the rest will support construction of a research facility housing laboratories, core facilities, and space for R&D and industry collaborations. In addition, a $14 million fund will support efforts by the university to establish a presence in Bentonville, while $3.5 million will support an Honors College internship program and efforts by the university's Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation to provide applied and experiential learning opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students.
In 2018, the foundation awarded a "phase I" grant of $23.7 million in support of basic and applied research initiatives at the university.
"Arkansas has long been known for its entrepreneurial spirit and as a place where businesses thrive," said Steuart Walton, board chair of the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. "This grant will support the University of Arkansas as it seeks to drive innovation and transform entrepreneurship and research to commercialization for industries nationwide."
(Photo credit: University of Arkansas)