BATON ROUGE, La. –– Today, Louisiana Innovation Council Chairman Les Guice and Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret announced the celebration of Louisiana Innovation Month throughout November. The campaign will feature innovation-focused events statewide while recognizing more than two-dozen creative Louisiana-based organizations that have developed innovative products and practices to propel them to success in their respective fields.
A reception hosted by the Louisiana Innovation Council and sponsored by CenturyLink will honor those companies and organizations today at the Capitol Park Welcome Center in Baton Rouge. Their stories will be featured throughout November on the LED website, OpportunityLouisiana.com, and in an upcoming issue of EQ, the Louisiana Economic Quarterly. Statewide, Louisiana Innovation Month will be celebrated through business-pitch competitions, technology showcases, social media gatherings, networking events for entrepreneurs, and award ceremonies for emerging companies.
“Louisiana has had a rich history of producing and supporting innovators who have brought significantly greater value to their companies, communities and the state,” Guice said. “Louisiana Innovation Month gives us the opportunity to shine a light on a few of those who are having a significant impact today and are inspiring others to be our innovators of tomorrow.”
Guice, appointed in February to chair the Louisiana Innovation Council, serves as president of Louisiana Tech University and previously served as the university’s executive vice president and vice president for research and development.
State leaders recognize innovation as a significant step toward strengthening and diversifying Louisiana’s increasingly knowledge-based economy. The 2014 State New Economy Index highlighted Louisiana as the fifth most-improved state since 2010 for the share of private sector employed as scientists or engineers. Last year, in a study comparing metropolitan regions throughout the United States, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation cited Baton Rouge as having the second-highest increase in high-tech startup density among mid-to-large metro areas from 1990 to 2010.
To accelerate that innovation trend in Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature created the Louisiana Innovation Council in 2009 to formulate an innovation-based vision and implement an innovation mission for the state. The 31-member council includes representatives of major economic groups and education institutions throughout the state, along with gubernatorial appointees and legislators.
Moret emphasized the value of innovation to Louisiana’s economic productivity.
“We are delighted to support the Louisiana Innovation Council in its important work of raising the bar on innovation statewide to create a climate of greater entrepreneurial achievement,” he said. “Louisiana Innovation Month represents an opportunity to recognize Louisiana innovators and to encourage further diversification of our economy and enhancement of Louisiana’s economic competitiveness.”
Louisiana’s innovation honorees for the month represent a host of industry sectors, innovative education initiatives, and both public and private organizations. They include:
- Kickboard, New Orleans
- Louisiana Tech University, Ruston
- The Enterprise Center, Ruston
- Marucci Sports, Baton Rouge
- PreSonus, Baton Rouge
- Theodent, New Orleans
- Technology Associates, New Orleans
- TurboSquid, New Orleans
- Moonbot Studios, Shreveport
- LSU AgCenter Sweet Potato Research Center, Chase
- Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, Program for Young Entrepreneurs, Natchitoches
- The Idea Village, New Orleans
- New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, New Orleans
- National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, Bossier City
- Cellcontrol, Baton Rouge
- Federated Sample, New Orleans
- IntegriCo, Springhill
- We Care Designs, Mandeville
- The Water Institute for the Gulf, Baton Rouge
- Airmaster Aerator, DeRidder
- MaxiFlex, New Orleans
- Bell Helicopter, Lafayette
- FIRST Robotics, New Orleans
- CenturyLink, Monroe
- Sasol, Westlake
- University of Louisiana at Lafayette Research Park, Lafayette
- Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Baton Rouge
- LED FastStart®, Baton Rouge
TurboSquid, specializing in online 3D models, has developed an international reputation for new technology that expands access to 3D content. The technology is featured on TurboSquid’s new site, PixelSquid.com, and will be the first and only interactive stock imagery site on the Internet. The company rated special thanks in the closing credits of the 2014 summer blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy. The New Orleans firm benefitted from unexpected competitive advantages unique to Louisiana, CEO Matt Wisdom said.
“There was venture capital targeted to this region, which allowed us to stand out in the crowd and get great funding on good terms,” Wisdom said. “Later, the accessibility of the state Legislature opened up the possibility of tax credits and incentives. Over time, we found that staff retention is very high. We’ve found that if you build the company you want to work at – in the place you want to live – people stick with you.”
Shreveport’s Oscar-winning Moonbot Studios, meanwhile, relied upon state resources such as the LED FastStart recruitment and training program to prime the pump for its own innovative success, said Lampton Enochs, founding partner.
“When Apple first introduced the iPad, our team knew it would be a game-changing device for storytelling,” Enochs said. “LED FastStart was essential at getting programmers trained to execute our vision. When new technology is announced, companies need to be nimble and adapt to changes in the market. LED FastStart really helped us jumpstart our interactive division, which built on those skills and is now doing everything from kids’ apps to mobile adventure games and even console experiences.”