Louisiana Economic Development (LED) has rolled out a new incentive for research-driven start-ups to retain their operations within the state’s borders. This initiative arrives on the heels of a broader push to establish Louisiana as a hotbed for small-scale business innovation.
The Louisiana Innovation Retention Grant (IRG) program, initiated by LED, promises to provide supplementary state funding to companies that have received federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants. Qualified businesses can now apply for grants of up to $100,000 under this program. Applications opened on August 15, 2023.
Gov. John Bel Edwards emphasized the state’s commitment to fostering a diverse economic landscape. “The funding that the Legislature authorized to establish the Innovation Retention Grant program is money well invested in making sure that future-focused businesses born in Louisiana stay in Louisiana,” he said.
The IRG program, greenlit by the Louisiana Legislature in 2022, has set forth a series of ambitious objectives:
- Bolster and retain STEM-focused start-ups along with their skilled workforce within Louisiana.
- Showcase Louisiana’s backing for innovative enterprises by augmenting the federal research funds awarded to the state’s small businesses.
- Amplify research investments in Phase I of the federal SBIR program, enhancing the competitiveness of Louisiana’s small businesses when vying for Phase II funding.
- Facilitate the inception and growth of premier technology enterprises that are both locally owned and operated across the state.
Rep. Matthew Willard of District 97 (Orleans Parish), one of the co-authors of the legislative package that gave life to the IRG program, expressed his enthusiasm. As the founder and chair of the STEM Innovation Caucus, Willard proclaimed, “The caucus worked diligently to pass a package of bills that will create new jobs, help diversify our economy and support entrepreneurs and innovators throughout our state.” He credited the concerted bipartisan efforts and emphasized the caucus’s role in legislating a suite of bills intended to invigorate the job market, diversify the economy, and champion entrepreneurs and innovators statewide.
To benefit from the IRG program, applicants must be Louisiana-based, for-profit, private enterprises that have secured a Phase I or Phase II SBIR/STTR award post-June 15, 2022. The grant amount will be allocated in two equal installments spread over two years.
This grant could offer a significant boost for small business owners in Louisiana, especially those anchored in research and innovation. Not only does it provide financial assistance, but it also signals the state’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for innovation and growth. As the state navigates its economic future, such initiatives may play a pivotal role in shaping a thriving, diverse, and resilient business landscape.
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