Arkansas Research Alliance

A public/private economic-development organization, the nonprofit Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) was established in 2008 with start-up funding from the State of Arkansas through the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA). The organization evolved from the efforts of Accelerate Arkansas and its strategic plan of 2007.

The ARA is modeled after the successful Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) that began under the leadership of Georgia governor Zell Miller in the early 1990s. The ARA’s primary focus is recruiting and retaining leadership in key research areas in which Arkansas has strong core competencies with long-term economic-development potential.

The ARA has five university members: the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). These member institutions receive the vast majority of the federal research grants apportioned to the State of Arkansas. The primary program of the ARA is the ARA Scholars Program, which recruits nationally recognized research leaders to one of the member universities. Each ARA scholar receives a three-year grant that totals $500,000; along with the grant, all ARA scholars establish three-year milestones as impact targets for their grant periods.

In 2014, the ARA established a companion program to the ARA Scholars Program, the ARA Fellows Program, which identifies research leaders who are already residents at one of the five member institutions and who have a proven record of obtaining federal research grants. This program recognizes research talent that is already in the state and making an economic difference.

The ARA has also worked closely with the State of Arkansas, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) to focus on collaborative activities between the FDA and the State of Arkansas. Two major agreements were signed to support this relationship. In August 2011, Governor Mike Beebe and the commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, signed a historic memorandum of understanding between the State of Arkansas and the FDA. Then, in September 2013, Jerry Adams, founding president/CEO of the ARA, signed a partnership intermediary agreement (PIA) with Hamburg to further the collaborative efforts, with the ARA as the primary lead organization.

Sitting on the ARA Board of Trustees are the chancellors from the five member universities, as well as sixteen Arkansas-based corporate chief executive officers. ARA offices are located in Conway (Faulkner County).

For additional information:
Arkansas Research Alliance. (accessed September 8, 2021).

Carter, Mark. “FDA’s $1.2M Grant Extends ARA, NCTR Research into Graphene.” Arkansas Business, December 17, 2014. Online at (accessed September 8, 2021).

Jerry Adams
Arkansas Research Alliance


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