Baton Rouge must continue to make spending on innovative and academic research a priority if it wants to continue to grow and maintain its regional standing as as an economic leader, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber says in a study released Thursday.
The study, titled “The State of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Capital Region,” was released to coincide with the 5th annual Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week that begins Monday. It highlights innovation and research spending in the Baton Rouge area and how that drives the economy.
“The data will enable leaders to study how we’re doing and make informed decisions about where to invest their time and efforts to strengthen it further,” Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC, says in a prepared statement. “The Capital Region has a vibrant entrepreneurial culture and has taken strides recently in developing the innovation economy, but there is more work to do in order to keep pace with peer markets.”
From 2009-2013, academic research funding in the Baton Rouge area has remained stagnant at around $300,000 annually. That ranks the area ahead of peer cities like Little Rock, Arkansas; Columbia, South Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; and Memphis Tennessee, while trailing behind Birmingham, Alabama.
“LSU, which accounts for around 94 percent of Capital Region academic research spending, is also a primary driver of innovation through its many research commercialization and entrepreneurship programs such as the LIFT2 fund, Louisiana Business and Technology Center, AgCenter Food Incubator, Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute, and more, the report says.
Of the six southern cities that BRAC featured in the report, Baton Rouge ranks near the bottom, 87%, in people ages 25-34 with a high school diploma, while coming in third, 32%, in the number of residents ages 25-34 with a bachelor’s degree.
BRAC recommends reinstating the research & development tax credit, elevating state programs that encourage entrepreneurial growth and appointing a director to oversee innovation across the entire state.