RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech University has been awarded a $1.1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for establishing the Louisiana Tech "LA_i6" Proof of Concept Center to support and expedite the introduction of new "green" technology innovations into markets throughout the region and the nation.
LA_i6, to be operated by Louisiana Tech's Enterprise Center and housed in University Hall on the Tech campus, will partner with companies along the I-20 innovation corridor in north Louisiana, south Arkansas, west central Mississippi, and northeast Texas. Other private sector partners will come from across the country to north Louisiana to participate in the LA_i6 activities. LA_i6 will also work to amplify and promote the social, environmental, and economic impacts of green technologies produced through the center and its partners.
"The economic impacts that Louisiana Tech is making through its research and development centers continue to fuel enormous growth and new opportunities for our state," said Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau. "We are grateful to the EDA for their support of the LA_i6 Proof of Concept Center. Louisiana Tech's innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives are providing for a stronger and brighter future for our region, our state, and our nation."
Officials with the EDA will hold a joint press conference with administrators from Louisiana Tech on October 13 to award the grant. The event will take place at Tech Pointe at Louisiana Tech's Enterprise Campus.
Louisiana Tech's proposal was one of only six in the country to be selected for the highly-competitive i6 Green Challenge grant. The official announcement was made Thursday by senior officials with the Obama Administration during a national press conference. Partner agencies will also be awarding supplemental grants, in addition to the EDA award, to the winning proposals.
First announced at the White House launch of "Startup America" in January, the i6 Green Challenge was a multi-agency, national competition focused on accelerating high-growth entrepreneurship in the United States. The U.S. Department of Commerce was the lead agency with other participating agencies including the Departments of Energy, Defense, Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation.
"This award from EDA and their partner federal agencies is recognition that the economic development mission of Louisiana Tech is innovative and impactful, and it holds great promise for the future of our region and for the nation," said Dr. Dave Norris, director of Louisiana Tech's Enterprise Center. "This new Proof of Concept Center will generate tremendous opportunities for new, sustainable, high quality economic growth right here in north Louisiana."
In addition to its work with public and private sector organizations, LA_i6 will collaborate with researchers and organizations at Enterprise Campus, Louisiana Tech's research park. Enterprise Campus was established to provide an environment that supports the engagement of industry, government and community partners in the research, development, and educational activities of Louisiana Tech.
"This project validates the innovation capabilities of our faculty and our processes for supporting early stage development of technologies," said Dr. Les Guice, vice president for research and development at Louisiana Tech. "With this funding, and the strong partnerships with the private sector, Louisiana Tech will establish a national model for accelerating the commercial application of these technologies with an impact focused in north Louisiana."
Several pilot projects by Louisiana Tech faculty which support the LA_i6 mission are already in progress on the Tech campus in collaboration with private sector partners. Dr. Erez Allouche has developed a "geopolymer" concrete made in part from an industrial by-product called fly ash, which offers a 90 percent reduction in carbon foot print and an 85 percent reduction in energy consumption to the industry standard, Portland Concrete.
Louisiana Tech researchers are also contributing to eco-friendly energy generation. Drs. Sandra Zivanovic and Dentcho Genov have worked with a northern Louisiana solar panel manufacturing company to develop a method of improving power conversion efficiencies in solar cells and helping to concentrate solar energy without the need of increasing the solar collection area.
Dr. Long Que has designed and fabricated a device that allows microscale electronic devices to harvest their own wasted energy. The device could produce enough power to adequately operate some low-power microsensors and integrated sensors.
"America's economy depends on both innovation and commercialization," said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. "The proof-of-concept centers will help to accelerate the commercialization of products based on exciting new research and support the development of green jobs in regions across the country."