A Baton Rouge nonprofit that helps develop high-tech companies plans to broaden its reach in 2016 by coordinating and promoting regional entrepreneurial efforts.
The initiatives are part of Research Park Corp.’s plan to establish a new brand — Nexus Louisiana — and a new role, President and Chief Executive Officer Byron Clayton said Thursday.
“When we started looking at the innovation ecosystem, you’ve got companies and investor groups and resource provider groups, like universities and business consultants and incubators,” Clayton said. “Innovation ecosystems that work the best, those folks are working together. And what we need here is to really work across our organizational and regional silos.”
Nexus Louisiana can serve as “the center of engagement” that connects those groups and helps better coordinate their efforts, Clayton said.
“On this very top level, we were about simplifying how these entrepreneurs and innovators and growth-oriented companies find the help they need to prosper,” he said. “But it’s not just right next door. We need to connect them across our region and state. We want to be the nexus of that.”
Clayton presented the 2016 initiatives before Research Park Corp.’s executive committee.
Research Park oversees the Louisiana Technology Park on Florida Boulevard, an incubator for tech firms. Research Park plans to establish a new brand through Nexus Louisiana. The trade name has been reserved, and a new website is being built.
The website will show people how the entrepreneurial ecosystem works and how they can connect to the different resources, Clayton said.
Research Park’s efforts also will include a regional push to boost attendance at the 2016 Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week.
Coordination hasn’t been the issue, Clayton said. The real problem is that BREW isn’t connecting to the audience the event wants to attract.
Clayton said organizers already have held a postmortem on the event. He is meeting with them individually to talk about their plans, the audience they are targeting and what they’re doing to bring in those people.
“So when we get to BREW, the audiences are already there,” Clayton said.
Clayton said he doesn’t know the total attendance at BREW. Different events were organized by different groups. The Research Park’s Pitch Night drew 100 people. LSU’s Louisiana Business and Technology Center’s 27th anniversary and graduation ceremony drew about 200 people. About 40 attended Innovation Catalyst’s question-and-answer panel “The Rocky Road to a Successful Startup.”
Attendance was all over the board, but the common denominator is everyone wants a bigger audience, Clayton said. The organizers of the events also want to avoid the last-minute registration rush.
Research Park is working with the organizers on what they can do now, so when BREW arrives — it’s tentatively set for the week of Nov. 16 — organizers already have built their audiences, Clayton said.
This year’s events will include a first, an entire day dedicated to women entrepreneurs, said executive committee member Dima Ghawi, who is partnering with LSU on that effort.
Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.