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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Mike Beebe speaks Tuesday at the state Capitol in Little Rock about a study done by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice on university research in Arkansas. - Photo by Lisa Burnett

— Arkansas is well-positioned to expand research-based job-creation opportunities, a study released Tuesday in Little Rock finds.

The study, conducted by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice and commissioned by the Arkansas Research Alliance, shows that 135 emerging knowledge-economy companies employing 1,259 workers have participated in research efforts in Arkansas since 2008, the alliance said Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Those workers earn more than $70,000 a year on average, more than double the $34,014 average annual wage in Arkansas' private sector, the alliance said.

The Arkansas Research Alliance was begun in 2008 to create economic-development opportunities through research. The organization is an outgrowth of Accelerate Arkansas, a group of businessmen and academics whose goal is to raise the per-capita income of Arkansans to the national average.

In 2009, Gov. Mike Beebe presented a long-term, statewide economic-development plan targeted at increasing the standard of living for Arkansans by developing knowledge-based jobs, the Arkansas Research Alliance said in a statement.

"With the governor's leadership in that 2009 plan, a number of programs got put into place," said Mitch Harowitz, vice president and managing director of the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice.

Research initiatives have received $61.2 million in state funding from 2008 to 2011 and leveraged an additional $191.8 million in non-state sources to expand their research, the study says.

Arkansas lags behind the U.S. average in university research funding. In 2010, per-capita funding was $87 in Arkansas and $189 in the United States, the study found.

"I think [research] is proven to be successful," Beebe said. "You never know what you're going to get when you start research."

Although Arkansas has been successful in some efforts, the study says, the state still needs to raise the value and productivity of industry, put its "talent pipeline" to work and find venture capital.

The Arkansas Research Alliance invests in university research and innovation that can incubate new businesses and create high-paying jobs in Arkansas. a nonprofit organization leader in science, technology, education and commercial innovation.

A complete copy of the Battelle Report can be found on the Arkansas Research Alliance's website.

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