LSU student incubator names pitch winners

The LSU Student Incubator awarded $25,000 to six student-run startups during its fourth annual Venture Challenge.

Money was presented to four Venture Challenge finalists and two “Audience Choice” Start-up Showcase display winners.

The final round winners were:

UNITED AERIAL: Clint Conroy and Taylor Jacobson; $7,000. It is an on-site monitoring company that uses emerging technology for aerial data collection through the use lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

IMPOSSIBLE INNOVATIONS: Niki Hansen; $4,500. It is one of fewer than 30 veterinary prosthetics companies in the world.

DANIEL OUTDOORS: Edward Daniel; $2,000. It designs, manufactures and sells hunting equipment, including deer stands, buck brackets, game camera stands and squirrel skinners.

MASHBALL: Todd Mashburn; $1,000. It is a patent-pending toss game.

The remaining prize money went to the Audience Choice winners Annie E, custom clothing, $1,000; and runner-up Ambici LLC, Reed and Riley Stephens, who build and sell quality wood watches, $500.

A panel of 17 judges from the professional community selected four of 17 student teams to advance to the final live-pitch round of the Venture Challenge.

Bin 77 Perkins Rowe expansion complete

Bin 77 Bistro & Side Bar has completed an expansion into an adjacent building, doubling its size and adding new menu options on Grand Avenue at Perkins Rowe.

The Side Bar has seating for 68 diners, with 18 seats in the bar area.

“With the addition of the Side Bar, we can now serve smaller dishes, and we have a late-night menu until 1 a.m.,” said co-owner Brian Dykes, of Wine Venture LLC.

The bar offers classic cocktails and craft beers, as well as a private wine room.

The Side Bar is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday and from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Live music is offered on the patio Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Perkins Rowe is located at the intersection of Bluebonnet Boulevard and Perkins Road.

Knight opens larger New Mexico facility

Knight Oil Tools in Lafayette has completed an expansion of its Hobbs, New Mexico, operations and relocated to a new facility.

The facility houses the company’s Rental Tool Services and Fishing Services units and will serve Knight Oil Tools customers in the Mid-Continent Region and the Permian Basin in New Mexico and West Texas.

The Hobbs facility includes an office and warehouse building covering about 27,083 square feet. It also has an 8,228-square-foot wash facility.

Starmount expands provider network

Starmount Life Insurance Co. and sister company AlwaysCare Benefits Inc. have increased their national dental provider network by nearly 35 percent to 270,000 access points.

The network expansion includes general dentists and specialists across the country.

“The growth of our leased network, DenteMax Plus, is a result of a preferred provider organization network agreement, allowing DenteMax to access parts of United Concordia’s dental network,” said Starmount and AlwaysCare Senior Vice President Gene Sherman.

The larger provider network gives insured members more choices to access in-network dentists and receive discounts on dental services and lower their out-of-pocket costs for dental care. Providers are listed at AlwaysAssist.com.

Baton Rouge-based Starmount Life operates in 49 states, and AlwaysCare is a nationally licensed third-party administrator.

Workshop to help with grant preparation

A free workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 13 on how to prepare proposals for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs at the National Institute of Health.

The event will be at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, in Baton Rouge.

It is sponsored by Pennington, the Louisiana Tech Transfer Office, Louisiana Business and Technology Center and LSU Innovation Park.

Grants of up to $2,000 are available from the Louisiana Phase Zero Program for qualified companies to help offset the cost of preparing an SBIR/STTR grant proposal.

For information, contact the Louisiana Tech Transfer Office at (225) 578-3985 or (228) 688-1117.

Deadline approaching for farm programs

The 2014 Farm Bill requires farmers to file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form with their local USDA service center by June 1 in order to become or remain eligible for crop insurance premium support.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said most farmers already have a certification form on file since it’s required for participation in most USDA programs such as marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans and disaster assistance.

However farmers, such as specialty crop growers who receive federal crop insurance premium support, but may not participate in other USDA programs, also must now file a certification form to maintain their crop insurance premium support.

Producers should visit their local USDA service center and talk with their crop insurance agent before the deadline to learn about conservation compliance procedures.

The Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form is available at local USDA service centers or online at www.fsa.usda.gov/AD1026form.

When a farmer completes the form, USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff will outline any additional actions required for compliance with highly erodible land and wetland provisions.