STRATEGIC PLAN ITEMS
ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION
In today’s economy, economic success is being driven by innovation, not by capital accumulation or a reliance on natural resources. States and regions are adjusting their economic development strategies accordingly to meet this new challenge. With assets such as a major research university in LSU and a specialized life sciences research institute such as the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC), the Baton Rouge area has the possibility to spawn companies with disruptive technologies and the formation of significant, rapid job creation and wealth. The key element to enable this development is an ecosystem of entrepreneurial support, strong networks, risk capital, and creative talent that will make more of these companies likely to form and likely to succeed.
Support for new ventures: support efforts to create Step One Ventures as a means of providing seed capital and expert assistance
The Baton Rouge area offers new startups many quality options for locating their startup in a physical environment. Promising companies with great technologies, management, and new approaches to problems fail regularly due to limited or no access to the seed and growth capital they need to survive. Step One Ventures is proposed to identify and coach high potential entrepreneurs and make seed investments toward their company formation. It would do so in close coordination with the region’s existing service providers and incubators, in order to make the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem more accessible to these startups. The plan for Step One Ventures follows a model from Cleveland, Ohio called Jumpstart, Inc., and was developed in part through a grant to BRAC from the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).
University research park: promote the development of the LSU Innovation Park as a university research park
Areas around the country like Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; West Lafayette, Indiana (home of Purdue University); and Madison, Wisconsin (home of the University of Wisconsin) have succeeded in building best-in-class research parks that convert public-sector and university research strengths into private-sector investment and jobs. The development of a university-led research park organization, which would be established as a non-profit organization with active business representation, would allow for the cultivation of a valuable land asset that leverages the intellectual richness of LSU and SU and strengthens the state’s innovation economy. As articulated in BRAC’s Regional Innovation Strategy research paper, BRAC supports the formation of a research park by the LSU System under a foundation as well as the identification of revenue streams to support its development. The two hundred-acre property referred to as the LSU South Campus has been renamed as the LSU Innovation Park, with the goal of achieving this purpose.
LSU research: advance efforts to position LSU more competitively as a premier public research institution and support its engagement with the private sector
Research universities impact economic development in significant ways beyond simply the educating of students. The knowledge of professors and the innovation occurring in labs throughout the university can have a positive impact on the competitiveness of regional firms when there is a healthy connection between the university and the private sector. Through positive improvements in technology transfer including the use of template agreements and corporate relations staff to engage the business community, a research university can have a strong, positive engagement with the private sector. In addition, expanding already strong programs that are directly tied to the regional economy, such as engineering, can strengthen the impact of a research university. BRAC supports efforts to fund LSU at per-pupil levels relative to peer public research universities. Moreover, while the LSU System pursues reorganization and consolidation, BRAC supports that its decisions be guided by the goal to improve LSU’s competitiveness as a research university and strengthen its commercialization efforts.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center: aggressively pursue funding for continued growth of PBRC and encourage commercialization of PBRC intellectual property
As a nationally-regarded biomedical research institution, PBRC conducts significant research in the areas of nutrition, obesity, and other chronic diseases. PBRC’s impact as a hub of research and innovation can be enhanced with a renewed focus on opportunities for commercializing research to enhance the institution’s economic impact. In 2008, the state made an important investment in the expansion of the clinical research facilities and a new biomedical imaging center. BRAC’s research paper on PBRC demonstrated the need for additional state and local revenues at levels competitive with their biomedical research institute peers, as well as enhancements to their research and commercial engagement enterprises. As part of the focus by Louisiana Economic Development on “blue ocean sectors,” health care related to obesity and diabetes was identified as offering significant economic growth potential in the future. PBRC is the key state asset to underpin that sector.
Access to risk capital: support efforts to expand access to angel, seed, and venture capital funds in the Baton Rouge area and Louisiana, including continued implementation of the Angel Investor Tax Credit program
Access to angel, seed, and venture capital is one of the critical elements for start-up businesses, particularly in technology-intensive fields. While several incentive programs have been developed over the years to increase the availability of venture capital in Louisiana, few incentives are available to support capital formation today. Programs at the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and the angel investor tax incentive should be continually evaluated to ensure they are achieving their goals of providing access to capital to businesses and competitive with other states. Regional and state efforts should foster increased activity among angel investors and support the formation of professionally-managed, in-state venture capital funds. Linking risk capital to entrepreneurs in the Capital Region improves the business climate for private-sector start-ups and university researchers commercializing intellectual property. BRAC’s research paper on state innovation policy recommended key strategies for capital formation, including strategies for supporting Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, angel capital incentive, and other efforts.
State innovation strategy: support the development of a comprehensive, long-term, innovation agenda for Louisiana that advances the state and our regional economy in a globally competitive environment
With two research universities and a strong concentration of engineering, science, and technology-driven industries, the Baton Rouge area benefits disproportionately from state and regional investments that foster innovation. Over the last decade, the state has invested in research and research infrastructure, but it has not been consistent or significantly competitive with other state and regional efforts. The Louisiana Innovation Council was created in 2008 in order to offer a new direction for innovation policy in Louisiana. The state would accelerate its innovation economy by launching a multi-faceted agenda, focused on 1) attracting and commercializing more federal and private research; 2) recruiting top university research talent; 3) improving access to proof-of-concept funding and early stage risk capital; and 4) accelerating and launching innovative, high-growth companies. See BRAC’s paper on the creation of a state innovation policy agenda.
Incentives for innovation-based economic development: support incentives that improve the business climate for innovation-driven firms with high-growth potential, such as the Research and Development Tax Credit, Digital Interactive Media Tax Credit, Angel Investor Tax Credit, and Technology Commercialization Tax Credit
Recruitment and development of new business enterprises, especially ventures that create knowledge-based jobs, is important to the economic development of the state and region. BRAC has played a lead role in the legislation to create the Angel Investor Tax Credit and to make substantial improvements to the R&D Tax Credit. Continued support for and development of incentives focused on research and knowledge-based enterprises will strengthen our ability to accelerate the region’s economic growth and compete for projects with high-wage jobs.
Commercialization and technology transfer: support efforts to streamline practices related to technology transfer and commercialization of university innovations
The process of technology transfer advances the innovation of research universities into the marketplace. The ease and predictability of the process is integral to its frequency and success. Many research universities are turning to the predictability of template agreements for tech transfer, with pre-negotiated terms for licensing and ownership of intellectual property. These agreements can simplify the process for entrepreneurs seeking to commercialize LSU research. Templates can also be used successfully for sponsored research and private sector access to laboratory equipment. BRAC supports efforts to streamline tech transfer processes at the Baton Rouge area institutions, through the use of capable tech transfer office staff that are knowledgeable about enterprise formation; corporate relations staff who engage the regional business community; linking tenure to commercialization practices for researchers; and, more broadly, positive, collaborative relationships with the private sector.
- Coordinating business incubators in the Baton Rouge area toward cooperative goals and services (Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Network)
- Developing business acceleration services such as Step One Ventures based on national models
- Supporting the continuation of Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW), an initiative promoted in concert with the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week
- Promoting the technology community through Tech Tuesday events to provide opportunities for the current and future leaders of the industry to network
- Promoting and encouraging initiatives such as SeNSE pitch nights and Innovation Take-out as spurring new connections among entrepreneurs and innovators
- Advocating on state legislation affecting innovation-related policy
- Highlighting and supporting the success of technology companies in the region through earned media
- Working with LSU and the PBRC to improve commercialization of intellectual property, including technology transfer and partnerships with business
- Participating on the Louisiana Innovation Council to spur the creation and development of a statewide innovation agenda
Download » BRAC's 2013 Strategic Plan