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Shreveport-based BRF consults with Austin think tank to improve business climate

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Shreveport-Bossier is on a path to creating an “innovation ecosystem” as part of a business unit within the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana or BRF.

The IC² Institute of the University of Texas at Austin is presenting its fourth workshop in Shreveport on Thursday, Sept. 10. It will wrap up the first year of a multi-year consulting contract to nurture more startup companies that grow and stay here, according to BRF’s executive director of its Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program David Smith. The Austin think tank, Smith says, wants to see more cooperation along the I-20 corridor.

“They think there are incredible silos of excellence all around North Louisiana. What they’re going to help us do is build collaboration between all those silos. I know there will be a major effort along those lines,” Smith said.

An effort is underway to get angel investors working hand-in-hand throughout the state. Smith says now private investors are talking about business deals in New Orleans, Lake Charles and Shreveport-Bossier. That hasn’t happened before.

“We’re in a great position in Shreveport. We have established the New Louisiana Angel Fund with 53 angels. They’ve already invested in seven startup companies in Shreveport. Then, we have the New Orleans Angel Network,” Smith said.

Thursday’s symposium features IBM’s corporate affairs manager for the Ark-La-Tex Sandy Dochen and IC² Institute’s senior research scientist Gregory Pogue. The program will focus on industry involvement in an innovation economy. It begins at 11 a.m. at the Shreveport Club.

IC² Institute is involved in business development initiatives in more than 30 countries.

The consulting work with IC² Institute is funded through a BRF public-private partnership with the city of Shreveport and the Caddo Parish Commission, Smith says.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.