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LA Universities Urged to Take Greater Leadership Role in State's Tech Economy

April 09, 2015

In order to build a prosperous, globally competitive economy in Louisiana, state universities must take on a greater role as hubs of regional innovation, according to a report from the Public Affairs Research (PAR) Council of Louisiana. The report includes 46 recommendations to transform the state's economy by revamping existing innovation programs, and boosting university research. PAR's strategic plan is based on a review of innovation policies in other states, particularly Georgia and the work of the Georgia Research Alliance.

PAR focuses on how existing state support for Louisiana R&D is spread too thin among the state's programs and allocated in inefficient ways. In particular, the Board of Regents Support Fund has been designed in such a way that funding is inconsistent and has not been targeted toward industries and operations that could have the greatest economic impact.

Highlights from the recommendations include:

  • Appoint a dedicated statewide leader to support Louisiana innovation;
  • Provide sustainable support for the new WISE Fund, particularly for its research component;
  • Reorganize the Regents Support Fund to promote the state's tech economy, launching an Eminent Scholars program, adding targeting proof-of-concept funding and participating in NSF's EPSCoR program;
  • Emphasize economic development as a fundamental mission of higher education;
  • Establish and use innovation metrics;
  • Recruit and fund experts as tech transfer officers;
  • Centralize tech transfer from smaller campuses;
  • Incentivize pre-angel funding opportunities; and,
  • Produce an annual innovation index.

Last week, Louisiana Tech University was awarded $500,000 for the launch of the I-20 Corridor Maker's Innovation Network through the U.S. Department of Commerce's i6 Challenge grant program (read SSTI's coverage). The center is intended to achieve some of the goals articulated in the PAR strategy by integrating research, entrepreneurship and business development centers in the northern part of the state.

Read Innovation in Louisiana: Maximizing Investment in University Research to Promote a Knowledge-Based Economy at http://files.ctctcdn.com/bec30a10201/c831c5ee-09bf-4f46-a551-814e1a380257.pdf.

Louisianapolicy recommendations, higher ed