Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Southern Tech Sites 2007)
Louisiana Economic Development, industry, universities, and government are all pitching in to champion technology growth by creating a strategic plan for developing thriving, entrepreneurial-driven biotechnology and information technology industries. Incentives - such as the Gulf Opportunity Zone and education initiatives - and a growing technology work force are piquing the interests of technology firms in several sectors.
In biotechnology, Louisiana has invested more than $30 million in recent years to fund three regional innovation technology centers. These 60,000-square-foot centers, located in Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, provide low-cost wet lab incubator space and integrated business development services. Baton Rouge hosts the Pennington Biomedical Center, a research institution focused on health and nutrition research and education. This state-of-the-art, 403,000-square-foot research center houses 14 research laboratories, 17 core service laboratories, patient clinics, and more than $20 million in technologically advanced equipment.
Louisiana is also nurturing growth in its more than 350 IT companies with incubators, including the Louisiana Tech University Technology Incubator, the Louisiana Technology Incubator for Entrepreneurial Success at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and the Louisiana Business and Technology Center.
Companies like Network Foundation Technologies (NFT), a Ruston-based software company specializing in streaming media, are growing thanks to the state's technology focus. The firm boasts one U.S. patent issued and five pending, and annual sales of $100 million projected over the next two years. Marcus Morton, the firm's president and co-founder, credits Louisiana Tech University with preparing the skilled work force needed for his company's pursuits.
Another draw for technology companies is the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI), a fiber optics network that connects supercomputers at Louisiana's major research universities. This network connection allows for the transmission of 40 billion bits of data per second (20,000 times faster than standard cable) and is transforming the research capability of Louisiana's educational institutions. With its computational capacity and a $40 million investment from the state, LONI will be one of the nation's largest grid computing environments, attracting a host of technology-oriented and other high-level businesses to Louisiana.