Shellhammer to lead University of Arkansas’ Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation – Talk Business & Politics

The University of Arkansas announced Phil Shellhammer as the new director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“There are few programs in our region that have grown and made the impact that OEI has over the past several years to our entrepreneurship ecosystem,” Shellhammer said. “I count it a privilege to be asked to lead OEI into its next phase.”

“OEI has a huge year in front of us. We are building on the success of our current programming and creating opportunities for growth across the university, our community and the state of Arkansas.”

Shellhammer replaces Sarah Goforth, who has led OEI since 2017. According to a UA news release on Friday (May 3), she is taking a new position at UA to be announced later. Sources tell the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal that Goforth’s new job is affiliated with the National Science Foundation.

Shelhammer joined the university three years ago to oversee OEI’s Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP).

GORP is housed at the Collaborative in Bentonville. It helps early-stage startups grow through workshops, mentorships and other services.

Since launching GORP with four startups in the spring of 2022, 32 startups have expanded their businesses through its semiannual cohort program. GORP has also supported more than 300 entrepreneurs through workshops, networking events, one-on-one consulting and access to co-working space.

In 2023, OEI received a $1.2 million grant to expand GORP programming statewide and support founders in creating innovative products and services within the outdoor recreation industry.

Shellhammer is a former merchandising executive with Sam’s Club. In 2019, he established two education-focused tech startups: Eksplor Gaming and Wize Computing Academy of Northwest Arkansas.

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