Lee Watson launched Forge Institute as a means to enable public-private collaborations supporting innovation and investment programs as well as modern workforce-development initiatives. Watson and Forge recently announced a partnership with the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to develop advanced cybersecurity research supporting national defense.
In 2019, Watson was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the state Computer Science and Cybersecurity Task Force. He also sits on the boards of the UALR EIT leadership Council, the Arkansas STEM Coalition and is the entrepreneur-in-residence at UALR’s Emerging Analytics Center. In 2013, he was the founding CEO of the Venture Center in Little Rock and served on its board through 2018. He is the co-founder and assistant administrator of VC FinTech Investment Funds I-V; the CEO/founder of Conway’s digital brand enhancement firm Clarovista; was a founding champion of Startup Arkansas; and in 2013 he co-founded Southern Coding, an investment group of senior engineers investing in startups.