Bank of Ruston
Mr. John E. Barnes, Jr.
Mr. William S. Carter, Jr.
Mrs. Nell N. Charles
Community Trust Bank
Mr. Benjamin L. Denny
Mr. John E. Denny
Rep. Hollis H. Downs
Mr. John F. Emory
Mr. Randy L. Ewing
Mr. Terry O. Ewing
Dr. James D. Green
Dr. Marvin T. Green, Jr.
Dr. Leslie K. Guice
Ben P. Haley, M.D.
Mr. Bill Hogan
Mr. Paul M. Hogan
Mr. Wayne B. Hunter
Mr. Robert E. James
Mr. William A. Jones, Jr.
JPS Equipment
Mr. Kenneth D. Kilpatrick*
Mr. William J. Knight, III
Lincoln Builders
Mr. James C. Love, III
Mr. T. Lewis Love
Mr. William K. McConnell
Mr. Lucius D. McGehee*
Mrs. Mildred McGehee
Mr. John J. McHale
Mr. William M. McIntyre
Mrs. Janice L. Murphy
Mrs. Martha Emma L. Napper
Mr. & Mrs. Lue C. Napper
Mr. Richard O. Nealy
Mr. John A. O’Neal, Jr.
Mr. Tommy W. Rogers
Mr. R. G. “Skip” Russell
Mr. James G. Shepherd
Mr. Thomas W. Singletary
Mr. Robert W. Temple
Mr. Bill Tubre
Mr. Michael L. Walpole
Mr. D. Layne Weeks
* Indicates donors who are deceased
For information on contributing to the Innovation Fund
contact Dave Norris at (318) 257-3978 or [email protected]
Find this newsletter online at
Innovation Fund
success stories
Tech Pointe
is the first
facility in
the new
Letter from the Director
Dear Friends,
In the Spring of 2009 with support from key community
leaders like yourself, Louisiana Tech University established
the Innovation Enterprise Fund through the University
Foundation. This fund was established to provide small
grants to early stage companies spinning out of the
University’s technology transfer activities or otherwise
affiliated with the University’s business development
efforts. The grants are designed to dramatically accelerate
the movement of innovation from the research lab to the
marketplace and generate new economic activity and
investment opportunities in north Louisiana. Engagement
of the regional business and investor community in the
Innovation Fund is increasing the likelihood of new venture
success and maximizing the local economic impact of new
technology development. This fund is already beginning to
increase the amount and quality of deal flow available to
regional investors and set north Louisiana apart from other
university communities in our level of local commitment to
and engagement in the Innovation Enterprise. We have held
two rounds of competitions and will hold the third round in
the fall of 2013. All fund members are welcome to participate
in the grant decision process, and only fund members are
allowed to vote on grant award decisions. Our goal is to grow
this into a $1 million fund and dramatically accelerate the
growth of high-tech companies and quality job opportunities
in our community. We hope to increase the engagement
of existing members and significantly grow membership
in the fund over the coming months. I want to extend our
sincerest appreciation to all who have contributed so far. Your
contribution is already working to benefit our community.
Dave N. Norris, Jr.
Executive Director for Enterprise and Economic Development
Hybrid Energy Harvesting Device
Could Be a Game-Changer
Student Andy
Tseng tests
the voltage
by the hybrid
The sun offers both light energy and
thermal radiation. But while a great
deal of technologies focus on the
sunlight harvesting, little attention
has been paid to developing devices
that harvest the thermal energy. Solar
cell technologies can only convert
a very narrow spectrum range of
sun light into electricity and only
during daylight without cloud cover.
Therefore, they waste much of the solar energy, and
do not convert the thermal radiation—which actually
degrades the solar cells—at all. The ideal energy
harvesting devices not only can work when sunlight
is available, but also can generate power if thermal
radiation is available even at night. There are very
few technologies currently available to harvest both
sunlight and thermal energy on a single chip, and
those available have significant limitations. The recent
development of energy harvesting technology by Dr.
Long Que’s group at Louisiana Tech offers a new
route and technical platform to harvest both sunlight
and thermal radiation energy on a single chip with
dramatically enhanced conversion efficiencies. This
technology could break the bottleneck of current
silicon-based solar cell technology and thermoelectric
generation technology and vastly expanding our
ability to generate clean, renewable energy. The initial
target market, being developed in collaboration with
CFD Research Corporation of Huntsville, Alabama, is
self-powered energy sources for wireless sensors and
communication nodes, biomedical devices, low-power
VLSI circuits and consumer electronics.
Clay Nanotubes Finding Multitude
of Product Applications
images of
Nanomaterials with grain sizes on the order of a
billionth of a meter manifest extremely fascinating
and useful properties, which can be exploited for a
wide variety of applications including next generation
computer chips, better insulation materials, hi-def
television, harder cutting tools, and high energy-density
batteries. They can also be used to improve the life
of medical implants, clean up pollutants, and deliver
drugs. Many of these product applications have great
potential benefits, but come with very high material
and environmental costs. At LaTech’s Institute for
Micromanufacturing—home to some of the world’s
leading research on nanomaterials—there is a material
emerging as extremely viable. Halloysite clay has
significant advantages over other nanomaterials in
that it is cheap, durable, and environmentally friendly.
The most common nanomaterial on the market today,
carbon nanotubes, is vastly more expensive and toxic.
Dr. Yuri Lvov, the Small Times Magazine Innovator of
the Year in 2009, has developed a host of applications
using halloysite nanotubes to provide anti-corrision,
anti-fouling, and fire-resistant properties to a host
of structures and building materials. Development
partners include Cameron International, PPG Industries,
and local companies like Storm Wall
Industries. Dr. Lvov’s smart protective
coating technology uses halloysite
nanotubes loaded with the appropriate
chemical agents for protecting the
structure then either inserted into the
building material or applied as a coating
with paint. Lad and field test results
have been extremely positive, and the
market potential for this product is in
the tens of billions.
Geopolymer Concrete Development
Gains Strength and Commercialization
formulas for
blocks at
the TTC lab
Louisiana Tech is leading the world in
developing innovative new products
with geopolymer binding technology
for concrete. Geopolymer concrete
is a novel, environmentally friendly
material made from a waste product—
fly ash—of coal-fired power plants.
In collaboration with local, national,
and international partners, Erez
Allouche and his team at the LaTech
Trenchless Technology Center are developing a range
of customized geopolymer products as a replacement
for Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC), the most common
building material on the planet. For many applications
geopolymer concrete provides a 100% substitute
for OPC with improvements in compressive strength
and corrosion resistance. Also, by using fly ash as
raw material, geopolymer generates a lower carbon
footprint and turns a waste stream into a product
of value. Successful projects to date include high
temperature/corrosion-resistant products for high-end
refractory applications, corrosion-resistant geopolymer
formulations for coastal roadways, bridges and flood
control structures, spray-on concrete for manhole
rehabilitation, and flexible geopolymer concrete coatings
for steel pipes and other critical steel structures. The
flexible geopolymer is also being enhanced with
nanotechnology for added performance features
creating the world’s first smart concrete with self-healing
properties. Testing in collaboration with NASA and Aero
Jet at Stennis Space Center has proven very successful.
Local Ruston firm M.L. Smith, a leader in the refractory
construction industry, has also been a development
partners. Other commercializations partners include The
Azera Group out of Houston, TX and CLECO.
eVortex™ Moving to Market
The view from
the top of a
tower built
to simulate a
vortex drop
Thousands of sewer drop structures across North
America ranging from 5 feet to over 300 feet in height
convey billions of gallons of water annually. Drop
structures direct flow from shallow surface sewers
to deeper collection tunnels via a vertical shaft--like
a sewer waterfall. An advanced version of a drop
structure known as ‘vortex drop structure’ is fast
growing in popularity and is designed to dissipate
energy. Louisiana Tech researchers saw these
sewer waterfalls as an opportunity to generate new
energy. So they have developed a novel low cost
turbine with an integrated electrical generator called
‘eVortex’ to harvest the enormous kinetic energy
available in waste water passing through these
sewer waterfalls. This technology was developed
in collaboration with Ipex International, one of the
world leaders in thermoplastic piping systems for
municipal, industrial, and residential applications.
The eVortex technology provides an opportunity for
municipalities to generate power from sewers for
their own use or produce a steady stream of revenue
through electricity generation. And since most of
the infrastructure required for eVortex is already in
place within the municipal water collection systems,
there is little cost to cities to begin producing power.
IPEX Incorporated has licensed the
technology from Louisiana Tech
with plans to begin deploying the
technology in municipalities across
North America and Europe.
Biovations™ Completes SBIR Phase I
Development, Looks to Phase II
Biovations™ is a startup company
located in the Tech Pointe facility
in the Louisiana Tech Enterprise
Campus. They are developing a novel
thermoelectric technology which
can enable point-of-care detection
of genetic mutations. Point-of-care
detection means samples do not
have to be sent to a lab. Health
care providers use genetic mutation detection or
genotyping for screening individuals in the general
population with predisposition for developing diseases
(e.g., cardiovascular, Alzheimer’s) and to identify
most effective drug therapies. Current methods of
identifying genetic mutations in the general population
are prohibitively expensive and not available for
wide-spread use at the point-of-care. Less expensive,
simple methods of genotyping are needed to meet
the potential of personalized medicine. Biovations™
patented technology addresses this need with
a dramatically simplified method of sequencing
small strands of DNA containing the mutation of
interest. This technology offers an affordable and
reliable method for genetic mutation detection
and disease susceptibility testing in the large and
growing commercial market for genotyping and
personalized medicine. A number of players are vying
for dominance in the genotyping arena, and no clear
winners have yet emerged. Biovations™ hopes to
take advantage of this fast growing opportunity. The
company has already received highly competitive
SBIR funding for research and development from the
National Science Foundation.
HelpFlixTM Turns Static Manuals
into Dynamic 3D Videos
HelpFlix, Inc. is a video production firm specializing
in the production of 3D animated instruction
videos that assist in the training of employees,
assembly of products, and maintenance of
equipment. Their motto is the following: A picture
is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a
thousand pictures. The company placed 3rd in the
LaTech Top Dawg New Venture Championships
and is now headquartered in Ruston with offices
in India. HelpFlix produces and markets high
quality 3D animated videos that assist with
product demonstrations, step-by-step instruction
manuals, operator training/safety manuals, and
replaces printed instructions and regular video.
As opposed to printed instructions, in-person
training, or traditional video, their product is
dynamic, language-neutral, always assessable,
cost-effective, and can even train the functionality
illiterate or reading averse. They are currently
focused on serving markets in the oil and gas,
healthcare, and telecommunications industries.
HelpFlix has created a portfolio of work for a
variety of clients and is aggressively seeking
growth opportunities. They have seen tremendous
interest in their product from a variety of industries
and are currently seeking partners to
support marketing outreach and sales.
Haptic Unlimited Makes
Connections at the International
Consumer Electronics Show
Founders Sean Griffin and Jessica
Wasserman have developed a handheld Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
called the Firebrand. Since winning
the La Tech Top Dawg New Venture
Championship and the El Dorado
G-60 business pitch competition in
April 2012, Haptic Unlimited has gone
on to patent the Firebrand and move
towards manufacturing and distributing the device.
The Firebrand is a handheld Bluetooth keyboard that
lets a user type the same way they text message to
interact with a television, computer or other device.
And among the younger generations, and those to
follow, the growth of text typing is exponential. In
January Griffin and Wasserman took the Firebrand
prototype to Las Vegas for the International Consumer
Electronic Show where they were able to connect with
both manufacturers and distributors. They received
excellent feedback and expressions of interest
from major corporations and potential customers.
Through connections made with Startup America,
Haptic Unlimited has been in talks with both Dell and
American Airlines and received encouragement from
editors of both Engadget and the Huffington Post.
Upon returning to Ruston, Griffin and Wasserman have
launched a crowd sourcing fundraiser on Indiegogo, and will be pitching to
interested investors in the region.
FutureScan Goes to Market and
Applications Continue to Grow
A FutureScan
UWB Radar
unit inspects
a buried pipe
for soil voids
in the New
Orleans area.
Researchers at Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology
Center have successfully developed a new scanning
system, dubbed the FutureScan, using ultra-wide
band technology which has the potential to provide
much more information on underground infrastructure
conditions than current methods using closed-circuit
television cameras. The system has already been
developed and deployed in collaboration with John
Deere for use on backhoes to detect underground
infrastructure or other obstacles in real-time while
digging. It has also been integrated with a roving
robot to enter underground pipes to scan for damage
and signs of deterioration in and around the pipe.
One particularly valuable capability of this system
in pipeline inspection—developed in collaboration
with CUES, Inc out of Florida—is that it can detect
voids around the pipe that could lead to potentially
devastating and costly sinkholes. This technology is a
quantum leap forward in pipeline inspection providing
more information in much greater detail and at much
greater speeds than ever before. After these successful
deployments other applications are being explored
including detecting voids in utility poles (with CLECO)
and even prediction of sweet potato harvest yields
(with the Sweet Potato Research
Station in Chase, La.). Meanwhile, the
developers of FurureScan envision
even more applications in other areas of
civil engineering including inspections
of dams, seawalls, bridge decks, and
building foundations.
Red Box Technologies Markets
Nuclear Shield Technology
tests of
for nuclear
and shielding
Red Box has met tremendous success
in developing the product prototypes
and limited production market of
nuclear protection technologies
licensed from Louisiana Tech University.
One success has been nuclear disposal
bags. Red Box has partnered with
American Strategic Innovations (ASI)
for marketing and Heritage plastics
for manufacturing of these bags that contain and
shield nuclear waste. The same technology has a
variety of other applications in developing nuclear
shields to protect items from harmful radiation. ASI
has been founded in the Humana Enterprise Center
to develop the market for these bags and a variety of
other products. Nuclear detection products to monitor
waste and detect potential efforts at nuclear terrorism
has received spectacular accord in the intelligence
community. Interest and guidance is being provided by
National Security Technologies, the operational division
of the Nevada Test Site and by In-Q-Tel, the VC firm
owned by the CIA. The inventor, Dr. Chester Wilson
and his group were invited to give four talks this year at
Air Force Global Strike Symposium. This has spurred
direct negotiations on products with major defense
contractors, and has defined a new market space in
radiation and EMP hard shielding for aerospace defense
products. This market is estimated to be worth several
billion dollars a year.