RUSTON, La. - U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced Monday that Louisianan Tech University is among 17 winners of the 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) i6 Program national competition designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country.
Louisiana Tech will receive $499,959 to build the I-20 Corridor Maker's Innovation Network. The initiative will integrate interdisciplinary maker-spaces, entrepreneurship and business development across the region to enhance new product development leading to new job creation and economic growth. Maker-spaces are relatively new and rapidly evolving hotbeds of innovation which have been facilitated by the latest in prototyping technology while rooted in traditional pillars of manufacturing: engineering, design, science and art.
"This award is another example of the national reputation Louisiana Tech University has earned for leading in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship," said Dr. Dave Norris, Chief Innovation Officer for Louisiana Tech. "The project has the potential to generate a wide range of new business ventures and new economic activity across the I-20 Corridor in North Louisiana.
"We are grateful for the long running partnership we have had with the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and, we are excited about the possibilities for this new initiative."
Maker-spaces represent an emerging asset in the economic development field with potential to impact a wide range of industries particularly in small-scale, additive and advanced manufacturing. These facilities can integrate workforce development, entrepreneurship, and business development in a single focal point, and with appropriate programmatic elements around them, they have tremendous potential for hi-tech and creative economy growth in a region like north Louisiana. Louisiana Tech previously won a $1.2 million i6 Challenge grant in 2011, which led to the establishment of the LA_i6 Proof of Concept Center for advancement of green technology innovations.
"Louisiana Tech's innovation enterprise is a vital component to the growth and prosperity of north Louisiana," said Louisiana Tech President Les Guice. "Our ability to support entrepreneurs and start-up ventures, and to assist them in commercializing their innovations is significantly enhanced through programs like the Regional Innovation Strategies Program. We are a grateful for this funding and the opportunities it will create for all of Louisiana."
"This highly selective award is complementary to Louisiana Tech's Strategic Plan, which includes a strong emphasis on economic development and innovation," said Dr. Stan Napper, vice president for research and development. "The project is also strengthens our commitment to innovations in education, as we provide design and prototyping tools to Louisiana Tech students, secondary school students, and other interested 'learners' throughout north Louisiana."
Louisiana Tech's I-20 Corridor Maker's Innovation Network will serve to catalyze a wide array of new manufacturing ventures that take advantage of emerging market trends in distribution methods, consumer preferences, fabrication technology, funding, marketing and transaction technology.
Entrepreneurs and innovators come from all walks of life, and the concept of the I-20 Corridor Maker's Innovation Network will allow for broad engagement with innovators across the I-20 corridor region regardless of geographic location, educational background, socio-economic status, or industry vertical.
For more information about Louisiana Tech's Innovation Enterprise, visit http://latechinnovation.org/.