Goforth Taking Role With NSF to Support Regional Innovation Across US

During her time as executive director at U of A's Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Sarah Goforth led the development of several large-scale programs and integrated entrepreneurial programming across campus.
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During her time as executive director at U of A's Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Sarah Goforth led the development of several large-scale programs and integrated entrepreneurial programming across campus.

Sarah Goforth, the former executive director of U of A's Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, has joined the National Science Foundation as a program director of its Regional Innovation Engines program

Goforth, who led the development of several large-scale programs, including the Venture Intern Program, Master of Science in Product Innovation, GORP incubator and Heartland Challenge Startup Competition, will be involved with the management, operation and evaluation for the NSF Engines program, which is part of the newly established Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) directorate at the federal agency.  

The program, which represents "one of the single largest broad investments in place-based research and development in the nation's history," according to NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan, supports regional innovation ecosystems across the country with a goal of boosting innovation to advance new technologies, address societal challenges and stimulate economic growth. 

Goforth said she was drawn to the program for the opportunity to work with national leaders in innovation and to both support and learn from other ecosystems. 

"The Engines program represents a bold new way of doing science, embedded within regional economic development strategies and in close partnership with the communities served," Goforth said.  

"I believe in this model and am thrilled to have an opportunity to contribute to the program while it is still new and experimental." 

Goforth's work with NSF is a one-year detail, renewable up to four years, after which she plans to return to U of A in a full-time capacity.  

Other milestones during Goforth's tenure at OEI included integration of entrepreneurial course offerings across the U of A campus, launching the annual Arkansas Capital Scan and establishing the Dickson & Main venture capital fund. The interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship, led by OEI in partnership with multiple academic departments, is now ranked by the Princeton Review as the No. 1 graduate entrepreneurship program in the Southeastern Conference

Goforth's experience and leadership at OEI make her uniquely qualified for this role with NSF, according to Ed Pohl, dean of the Graduate School and International Education. 

"Sarah is passionate about helping students and researchers take their ideas and technology and transition them into products/businesses," Pohl said. "She is an exceptional communicator who provides thoughtful and creative commentary to students and researchers. This will be extremely valuable in her new role at NSF." 

Pohl added that NSF is working to enhance the synergy between universities and industry through its programs, with the goal of bringing research and technology to the marketplace.  

"Sarah's experience with the various OEI programs at the U of A provide her a solid foundation for her new role, (and) she will continue to help students and researchers do similar things but at a larger scale." 

About the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation creates and curates innovation and entrepreneurship experiences for students across all disciplines. Through the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, McMillon Innovation Studio, Startup Village, and Greenhouse at the Bentonville Collaborative, OEI provides free workshops and programs — including social and corporate innovation design teams, venture internships, competitions and startup coaching. A unit of the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Division of Economic Development, OEI also offers on-demand support for students who will be innovators within existing organizations and entrepreneurs who start something new.    

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