The State, in collaboration with private-sector and federal agencies, as well as federal agencies acting through State agencies, have made targeted allocations in priority R&D areas. The resulting programs, often funded with special appropriations from the Governor, Legislature or federal agencies, have been administered and/or supported by the Board of Regents.
Research Commercialization and Educational Enhancement Program (RC/EEP)
The Louisiana Recovery Authority, Board of Regents, Governor, Legislature and the U.S. Department of House and Urban Development (HUD) allocated funds for research commercialization and educational enhancement at the campuses most severely impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Research Commercialization and Educational Enhancement Program (RC/EEP), administered by the Board, was funded in 2007 for four years by a $28,500,000 from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Projects concluded in June 2012.
The RC/EEP was designed to promote long-term economic recovery in the devastated areas by focusing on key research subject areas with commercial potential by 1) developing economic opportunities in the impacted areas, and 2) enhancing the quality of undergraduate and graduate education in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplinesas well as film and music.
Sixteen campuses in the eight parishes designated by HUD as most severely impacted by the 2005 hurricanes were eligible to submit proposals to the Regents in the 15 disciplines deemed most likely to produce significant economic development, workforce, and educational advances in the storm-affected areas. Projects were reviewed and selected by experts in the specific subject area based on their scientific and technical quality, as well as their potential impact and strategic implications for Louisiana’s economic stabilization and growth of the storm-impacted region and the State. Eleven (11) projects were funded across twelve storm-affected campuses, including Delgado Community College, Dillard University, the LSU Ag Center, LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans, Loyola University New Orleans, McNeese State University, Nunez Community College, Sowela Technical Community College, Tulane University, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, the University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana. Additional partners included Children’s Hospital of New Orleans and the New Orleans Bioinnovation Center (NOBIC).
Governor’s Biotechnology Initiative.
In 2002, Governor Foster unveiled the Governor’s Biotechnology Initiative (GBI), which provided $2.75 million in annually recurring funds and $5.7 million in one-time capital outlay funds to enable higher education research groups to undertake state-of-the-art biotechnology research. As a result of GBI, Louisiana universities have been able to hire outstanding faculty who have significantly elevated the quality and quantity of extramural research in this arena. Governor Blanco augmented this initiative by creating wet laboratory incubators at LSU-Baton Rouge, LSUHSC-Shreveport, LSUHSC-New Orleans and Tulane University.
Louisiana Gene Therapy Research Consortium.
The LGTRC is a partnership among Louisiana’s public and private health sciences centers, including the LSU Health Sciences Centers in New Orleans and Shreveport and the Tulane University Health Sciences Center. State funding supports the recruitment of leading researchers in the cell and gene therapy field, the establishment of core technology labs at the member institutions, and the building of an $18 million clinical manufacturing facility.
Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium.
During the 2002 Special Session, the Louisiana Legislature passed Senate Bill 73, which created the LCRC, specifically designed to establish a NCI designated Cancer Center using the combined resources and strengths of LSU Health Sciences Center and Tulane Health Sciences Center. LCRC brings researchers, physicians, equipment and resources of both universities together in a synergistic setting.
Information Technology Initiative.
Governor Foster also implemented an Information Technology Initiative that invested $25 million annually to develop faculty expertise on the research campuses in support of Louisiana’s S&T research capacity. In addition to recruiting top-notch faculty and strengthening the State’s IT infrastructure, this initiative provided for the creation of new degree and non-degree programs to grow the workforce required by current and new IT-intensive businesses in Louisiana. This initiative has not only fostered research, but has also promoted economic development: Louisiana has recruited several digital arts and gaming companies, and is now considered the leading state for advanced film production, including animation, excluding California.
Louisiana Optical Network Initiative.
During a 2004 EPSCoR statewide conference, Governor Blanco demonstrated her unequivocal support of the State’s IT infrastructure by committing $4 million annually over 10 years to build a high speed optical network, the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI), creating a research gateway to the world via the National LambdaRail (NLR). LONI connects the State’s major research institutions with high-speed optical fiber capable of delivering up to 60 Gigabits per second between any two nodes on the network. The network will connect multiple high speed shared memory parallel supercomputers, including five IBM P5s and large linux clusters, coupled on the network with a capacity of 100 teraflops (one hundred trillion floating point operations per second), which presently exceeds the capacity of most national facilities.