Govt, community leaders head to Austin this week


November 11, 2013

Govt, community leaders head to Austin this week

Group to visit entrepreneurship-focused think tank

By Michele Marcotte

Local officials and business and community leaders are packing their bags for Austin.

The group is headed to Texas’ state capital today to learn about the operations of the Innovation, Creativity Capital (IC²) Institute, an entrepreneurship-focused think tank at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin.

Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, which organized the trip, hopes to develop a similar program locally to help business startups move product and service concepts to the marketplace. It’s asking Shreveport and Caddo Parish for $500,000 each to initiate the program.

Representatives of both governments are scheduled to attend, as well as those from Shreveport and Bossier City’s chambers of commerce and the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.

“Austin is kind of the mecca of doing this,” said Jay Myers, the foundation’s vice president for external affairs. “They’ve been recognized as a leader in the United States in developing innovation, creativity and capital.”

So the foundation decided to get a group together to see firsthand what it hopes to develop here.

John Sibley Butler, a former IC² director who heads UT’s Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship and Small Business, has visited Shreveport a couple of times, Myers said. Those who attend will meet him and learn the circumstances and factors that resulted in both entities’ success.

The two-day trip includes panel discussions from Butler; the current IC² director, Bob Peterson; Jamie Rhodes, who co-founded National NanoMaterials, which manufacturers a form of the compound graphene for science researchers and industrial use; and Laura Kilcrease, managing director and founder of the venture capital fund Triton Ventures.

“It’s a worthwhile endeavor,” said Scott Martinez, president of North Louisiana Economic Development Partnership. “But I think it’s also important to know that is one small element of what has made Austin successful.”

Martinez is unable to attend but worked in the economic development sector of the Austin area for many years. Development of a similar program locally would be a “tool in a toolbox” for area economic development, he said.



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November 14, 2013