The University of North Texas Health Science Center is looking to pass its ownership of the business resource website, Sparkyard, to another organization.
Sparkyard is a website with resources for people who want to start their own business. It also holds data about Fort Worth’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Health Science Center has hosted the website since 2019 and receives funding from Fort Worth’s economic development department.
Marco Johnson, associate director of innovation ecosystems at UNT’s Health Science Center, said it’s time to hand off the resource to the community. HSC Next is typically focused on innovation and health care, he said, so it was mutually agreed upon that Sparkyard wasn’t a fit for the department anymore.
“We felt like we had done everything we could do from the Health Science Center perspective of getting this up and running and standing solidly on two feet,” Johnson said.
Johnson said membership-based organizations, nonprofits and private companies applied to become the new host of Sparkyard and gave a six-minute pitch to a selection committee. The new owner will be announced in the next month, Johnson said.
The Health Science Center licensed technology from Kansas City-based SourceLink and branded it as Sparkyard. Johnson and Cameron Cushman, assistant VP of innovation ecosystems at HSC, will stay involved with Sparkyard as advisers. Johnson clarified that the organization is not selling Sparkyard.
“There’s no handover of money, or anything like that involved,” he said.
Andrea Duffie, communications coordinator for Fort Worth’s economic development department, wrote in an email that the city has invested $86,500 toward Sparkyard to date. It started with an initial $25,000 to launch. The average cost per year for the technology is $15,500, but the department is still discussing whether the city will continue to foot the bill when Sparkyard gets a new owner.
“The city of Fort Worth’s economic development department is proud to be a longtime supporter of Sparkyard and was one of the original founding partners,” Duffie wrote.
Johnson said HSC will make an announcement about the Sparkyard handoff sometime during Global Entrepreneurship Week – North Texas, which takes place Nov. 13-19.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @sbodine120.
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This article has been updated to clarify the funding for Sparkyard by the city’s economic development department.