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Louisiana Tech brings benefactors, researchers together to support entrepreneurship

The Louisiana Tech University Research Foundation’s Innovation Enterprise Fund awarded a total of $50,000 in grant funding to start-up companies commercializing university-owned technologies during a luncheon on Tuesday at Louisiana Tech’s Biomedical Engineering Building in Ruston.

The Innovation Enterprise Fund was established to strengthen new businesses by helping them to bridge early-stage funding gaps.

Members of Tech’s Research Foundation as well as several university benefactors gathered to recognize the recipients and to receive updates on research accomplishments and entrepreneurial activities.

“Private investment in support of our innovative faculty and students is essential for helping them cross critical funding gaps,” said Les Guice, vice president for research and development at Louisiana Tech.  “These investments enable university-connected companies to hire and retain our graduates.”

“Some of these companies have potential for high growth which could lead to significant economic development in the community.”

Companies receiving grants include:

  • Red Box Technologies: developing a show power-generator for military intelligence applications and eventually broader commercial applications.
  • Nano-Pulp and Paper: in collaboration with the Stephens Paper Mill Company, developing a new “green” roofing felt using 100% recycled paper fibers.
  • S2S Tutor: educational services company employing an innovative model for student tutoring, mentoring, support, and development.
  • Plutonyx: developing novel applications for geopolymer concrete including a geopolymer grout for lining geothermal wells.

Each of these companies are based in Ruston and are hoping to realize their high-growth potential while headquartered in the community.

Ranging from $10,000 to $25,000, grants were awarded based on the development of businesses commercializing university intellectual property as well as those ventures deemed eligible for occupancy in Louisiana Tech’s Enterprise Center based on their association with the university.

The recipients are businesses that have demonstrated a potential to have significant and sustained economic impacts in north Louisiana.

“Local capital in the form of grants or equity investments is the essential element in enabling and capturing locally the economic benefits of new and emerging technologies from these start-up companies,” said Davy Norris, director of Louisiana Tech’s Enterprise Center.  “Few communities are able to do what we can do with this Innovation Enterprise Fund.”

Network Foundations Technologies (NiFTy), the Enterprise Center’s first tenant, was also recognized during the event for winning the Louisiana Technology Council’s Governor’s Technology Award as the Technology Company of the Year.  NiFTy was selected from eighteen companies throughout the state nominated for the award.

Through innovative technologies developed by Dr. Mike O’Neal, a professor of computer science at Louisiana Tech and co-founder of NiFTy, the company provides complete end-to-end online broadcasting services.

Proposals for Innovation Enterprise Fund grants are reviewed by a formal award committee and the university’s vice president for research and development.

“This type of funding will allow these companies to get to the next level and grow right here in north central Louisiana,” said Norris.

“It is another example the level of commitment that exists in this community to supporting the growth of new technology companies.”

Written by Dave Guerin – dguerin@latech.edu