Content tagged “Science and technology”

Venyu opens new $14 million data center in BR

Data center and cloud-based services firm Venyu is today celebrating the opening of its new $14 million, 23,000-square-foot facility at the Bon Carré Business Center on Florida Boulevard, saying the new data center will allow the firm to provide customers with increased storage capacity and security. "In today's highly competitive market, industry demand for crucial data center services such as colocation, cloud hosting, managed hosting and cloud backup are on the rise—as businesses seek more cost-effective IT solutions to drive efficiencies and generate revenue," says Venyu CEO Scott Thompson in a prepared release. "This expanded footprint opens new doors for customers with heightened levels of elasticity and on-demand IT capacity—while enabling us to drive future innovation and services." The new center—which was built in the space once occupied by a movie theater at...

LSU researchers link dark chocolate to heart benefits, stroke risk reduction

Researchers at LSU say certain bacteria in the stomach gobble dark chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart. As United Press International reports, study leader John Finley of LSU and his colleagues in Baton Rouge tested three cocoa powders using a model digestive tract, comprised of a series of modified test tubes, to simulate normal digestion. They then subjected the nondigestible materials to anaerobic fermentation using human fecal bacteria. Cocoa powder, an ingredient in chocolate, contains several polyphenolic, or antioxidant, compounds such as catechin and epicatechin, and a small amount of dietary fiber, Finley says. Both components are poorly digested and absorbed, but when they reach the colon, the desirable microbes take over. "In our study we found that the fiber is fermented and the large polyphenolic polymers are metabolized to smaller molecules, which are more easily absorbed. These smaller polymers exhibit anti-inflammatory...

John Gibby

In a world of ever-present tension between art and technology, Gibby embraces both.

La. digital education policies ranked No. 7 in U.S.

Louisiana is home to the nation's seventh-best digital education opportunities, according to the 2013 Digital Learning Report Card, released today by Digital Learning Now!, a national initiative of Tallahassee, Fla.-based Foundation for Excellence in Education. The report card annually grades K-12 education policies in each state based on the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning developed by the foundation. Louisiana received an overall B- grade. The report card says Louisiana's ranking was bolstered by the implementation of the Course Choice program last year. "Several states are now providing students choices down to the individual level. These course choice programs give students flexibility in choosing individual course, providers, and course format," says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, in the report's preface. "Unheard of just four years ago, forward-thinking policymakers, teamed with diligent education...

J. Chase Freeman

After starting at Mesh as a graphic designer, Freeman found his true passion in interactive web and app design and development.

Evan Smith

He is the creative mind behind lead characters for both PC and Xbox 360. The animator, designer, video game developer and part-time digital art instructor at LSU shares his favorite design tools for getting his game on.

Publisher: The time to come up with a digital strategy is now

As the new Business Report cover story points out, Baton Rouge has some key pieces—including LSU, state incentives and a growing number of young entrepreneurs—in place to thrive in the digital age. But Publisher Rolfe McCollister notes in his latest column that there are also pieces missing. One of them, he says, is a strategy. "There is a pressing need for collaboration on a digital strategy, the kind of strategies other cities are already deploying to their advantage," writes McCollister. "Let's ask citizens and the entrepreneurs what they want and need from City Hall—and then work as a team to make it happen." McCollister acknowledges the naysayers will argue that Baton Rouge doesn't have the people or the money to pursue a serious digital strategy at the city-parish level. "So where does survival for the future rank in our priorities?" he asks. "And what about the PEG...

'Business Report': Does B.R. have what it takes to compete in the digital age?

Google "digital city." What you will find—as Business Report details in its new cover story—is the following definition: a connected city, a smart city, where wireless infrastructure weaves information together to meet the needs of government, its employees, residents and businesses. "Baton Rouge is not yet a digital city," reads the cover story by contributing writer April Capochino Myers. "It does not meet the criteria. It does not have a wireless infrastructure. It did not create a fiber-optic utility system; it relies on telecommunication providers—Cox, EATEL and AT&T—to provide for its residents. It does not offer citywide interactive services. But what it lacks in logistics it makes up for in synergy." The Red Stick has become a hotspot for digital media companies. The city—and Louisiana in general—offers an attractive package of incentives to develop digital businesses. It also has a built-in, world-class education leader in LSU. In...

Home-grown tech

Housed in the Louisiana Technology Park off Florida Boulevard, PixelDash Studios is a video game and software development company with nine full-time employees and four part-time employees. Its work environment is laid back. Oversized beanbags are subbed for office chairs, and co-founders Jason Tate and Evan Smith, along with business development manager Claire Fontenot, meet to talk on worn leather couches facing giant TV screens. Video games and accessories, like plastic guitars from Guitar Hero, decorate the walls.

The Big Apple model

The Digital City Initiative began two years ago as a way to streamline New York City's digital communication with the public.

Digital carrots on a stick

A 35% state-tax credit for in-state qualified labor, as well as a 25% state-tax credit for eligible production expenses for the duration of the project. For example, a company with $100 in labor costs will receive a $35 state-tax credit on that year's tax return. Additionally, if the business has $100 in qualified production expenses for the same year (rent, office supplies and production equipment are a few such expenses), it will receive a $25 state-tax credit on the same year's tax return. The company can continue to receive tax credits as long as LED approves its project.

My Favorite Tech

In a technological world that's evolving by the minute, Natalie Noel is a compass for companies.

Capital City needs a digital strategy

Unlike my children, I didn't grow up in a digital world. Digital is now the norm, and 6-year-olds carry smartphones or tablets. I am afraid this "old dog" isn't alone in struggling with the necessity of learning new digital tricks.

Go digital or die

Google "digital city."

LSU exceeds $50 million fundraising goal for engineering college expansion

Not only has the LSU College of Engineering met and exceeded its $50 million fundraising goal for the renovation and expansion of Patrick F. Taylor Hall, but Gov. Bobby Jindal also announced today that the state will be matching, dollar-for-dollar, all private funding that exceeds the $50 million match already pledged. The $100 million public-private partnership was first announced in October 2012, and the private fundraising effort began in January last year. It's completion, announced today by Jindal and LSU officials, comes three months ahead of schedule. In total, more than 450 individual and corporate donors pledged $52.5 million in private funds. The largest single donation was a $15 million gift from Phyllis Taylor, co-chair of the LSU College of Engineering Breaking New Ground campaign and widow of Patrick Taylor, the LSU grad and Taylor Energy Company founder for whom the engineering building is named. Twenty-two companies, including Dow, RoyOMartin, Entergy, BASF, Turner...

Water Campus moving forward with plans for Old City Dock

Just one month after plans were unveiled for the Water Campus—a 27.6-acre research park devoted to coastal studies that will be developed near downtown off Nicholson Drive—the first phase of the project is rapidly moving forward. At its meeting Wednesday, the Metro Council approved a cooperative endeavor and right of use agreement with the Water Campus LLC for the Old City Dock property, which will be redeveloped into a $20 million Education and Research Center and will be the marquee structure on the campus. Last week, a request for qualifications went out to architects interested in submitting proposals to design the project. Trey Trahan—who, several years ago, designed renderings for a residential complex at the Old City Dock site—is among those planning to submit a proposal. "We would love to do it," he says. "It's such an exciting project and so good for downtown." At a DDD meeting last week, a spokeswoman for BRAF's real estate development company,...

News roundup: B.R. firm partners with national dental insurance carrier … Holden meeting with Obama at White House … DOTD prepared for wintry weather, icy roads

All together now: Baton Rouge-based LocalMed is partnering with leading national dental insurance carrier United Concordia Dental in a deal that will expand the reach of LocalMed's technology, which allows people to find and schedule dental appointments online, anytime. "Partnering with United Concordia means bringing convenience to patients and a much more efficient office to their participating providers," says LocalMed CEO Keith English in a prepared statement. United Concordia Dental is one of the nation's largest dental insurers with more than 98,700 dentists and over 6 million members. LocalMed was formally launched in December 2012 by twin brothers Daniel and Derek Gilbert.

Pennington launches childhood obesity and diabetes research program

Gov. Bobby Jindal joined officials at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center today as they opened a new front in the battle on childhood obesity with announcement of the Childhood Obesity and Diabetes Research Program and the opening of a newly renovated space on the campus off Perkins Road for the program's activities. The state provided $6.4 million in funding for the renovated facilities—part research lab and part education center—called the Translational Research Clinic for Children, or TReCC for short. Researchers at the facility will explore new ways of preventing, treating and managing childhood obesity. "The funding for the TReCC has allowed Pennington Biomedical to retain 19 direct jobs for pediatric studies, and the investments are expected to create more jobs in the future as grants are obtained," the governor's office says in a statement released today. "This investment in Pennington Biomedical is not only an investment in research; it is a continued...

B.R. firm brings home accolade from CES, gets 'Today Show' nod

Baton Rouge-based CellControl, which is preparing to launch its latest product aimed at eliminating distracted driving next month, recently brought home high praise from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and got a plug on the Today Show. "I have never seen a technology like this," tech expert Katie Linendoll says of CellControl's DriveID on the Today Show segment, in which she spotlighted some of the best new products at CES. "You'd be surprised how much Web traffic and inquiries that little 30-second spot has driven," says CellControl CEO Rob Guba. "It generated an incredible amount of interest, and it really gave us some great exposure to the consumer market." For the second time since CellControl was launched in 2009, the firm also was a CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award honoree for DriveID, which uses special technology in a vehicle to identify the driver and makes phone service inaccessible for that person, as long as they're behind the wheel.

BASF donating $1 million to LSU for College of Engineering expansion

LSU has received another sizeable donation for its $100 million renovation of Patrick F. Taylor Hall and expansion of the College of Engineering on its flagship campus in Baton Rouge. The university announced this morning that BASF Corp. is pledging $1 million toward the expansion. "The development and investment in the Louisiana workforce is critical to BASF's long-term success," says Tom Yura, senior vice president and manager of the company's Geismar site, in a prepared statement. "In addition to BASF's sustainability efforts, this project is part of our local activities to invest in students and help them be prepared for career opportunities in engineering and science while making a difference in the world today." Gov. Bobby Jindal allocated $50 million in capital outlay funding for the Taylor Hall renovation in his budget for fiscal year...

Breaking new ground

Founder/president, Performance Contractors

Cybersecurity essentials

For those in business, protecting against information security risks is a critical part of protecting the bottom line. Cyber threats are an issue for everyone, but small businesses in particular are becoming common targets because they often have fewer preventative or responsive resources. The new year is as good a time as any to take stock of what measures you might implement to protect against a cyber threat. So what do you need to know? Here are the essentials.

Smart growth in the new year

The year behind us included several huge announcements for developments in Baton Rouge, and all of these projects look to improve the urban core of the city in 2014. We take a look at the stats on some of these projects below:

Snapchat vows to make make app more secure

Snapchat says it plans to put out a more secure version of its application following a breach that allowed hackers to collect the usernames and phone numbers of some 4.6 million of its users. The disappearing-message service popular with young people said in a blog post late Thursday that the updated version of its app would allow users to opt out of its "Find Friends" feature, which was apparently at the heart of the breach, and would stem future attempts to abuse its service. The breach occurred after security experts warned the company at least twice about a vulnerability in its system. Before announcing its plans to update the app, Snapchat had been quiet. Its seemingly detached response caused some security specialists to wonder whether the young company can handle the spotlight that it has been thrust into over the last year as its service has become enormously popular. In response to a warning by Gibson Security on Dec. 25—which followed an earlier alert in...

Snapchat silent after suffering security breach

Snapchat, the disappearing-message service popular with young people, has been quiet following a security breach that allowed hackers to collect the usernames and phone numbers of millions of its users. Company spokeswoman Mary Ritti told The Associated Press this morning that the company is assessing the situation, but did not have further comment. As Americans rang in the New Year, hackers reportedly published 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers on a website called snapchatdb.info, which has since been suspended. The breach came less than a week after security experts alerted Snapchat of a vulnerability in its system and warned that an attack could take place. In response to the warning, Snapchat said in a blog post last Friday that it had implemented "various safeguards" over the past year that would make it more difficult to steal large sets of phone numbers. But the measures appear to have fallen short. The incident bruises the image of a young company that...

Richard Koubek

Occupation: Dean, LSU College of Engineering
Hometown: Berwyn, Ill.
Age: 54

Dr. William Cefalu

Occupation: Executive Director, Pennington Biomedical & Research Center
Hometown: Amite
Age: 59

Nearly half of La. children living in wireless-only homes

The states in which people most rely on their cell phones are not, as you might think, home to the country's busiest metropolises or cities crowded with texting college students, says the Pew Research Center. They are, rather, scenic and sparsely populated for the most part. States such as Idaho, where as of last year more than half—52.3%—of adults lived in households that had cut the landline-phone cord completely. That's according to a recent report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, which has tracked the rise of wireless-only households since 2003. Close behind Idaho were Mississippi, where 49.4% of adults lived in wireless-only households, and Arkansas, at 49%. Louisiana isn't too far behind, with 36.2% of adults living in a wireless-only household—and 45.1% of children under 18 in homes without a landline. "New York was clustered near the bottom with several other Northeastern states, with 23.5% of adults in wireless-only households. Where...

APPS To Organize

This Apple program breaks down daunting tasks into achievable chunks. Just type in everything you need to do, set a deadline and group them into categories. Things presents you with a checklist so you don't forget anything.

LSU AgCenter researchers say use of drones in crop monitoring looks 'promising'

The LSU AgCenter says its researchers are trying to determine if using unmanned aerial vehicles, sometimes known as drones, can help farmers monitor their crops for potential problems. "We are investigating the use of UAVs to see what the capabilities are," says Randy Price, LSU AgCenter engineer. "From what we can tell, the technology appears to be promising." Price says a drone was used recently to check on freeze damage in a sugarcane field by taking photographs that could be viewed once the vehicle returned to the ground. One of the first projects AgCenter researchers are undertaking involves sending up a UAV equipped with a sensor to measure the vegetative index of a crop. The device measures the green growth of a plant, giving a possible indication if additional fertilizer is needed on specific areas of a field. Price says Charles Malveaux, an LSU AgCenter research associate, has built three UAVs capable of flying themselves on a programmed mission. "We're in the process of...

Promising discovery of now defunct B.R. biotech firm may yet realize commercial potential

The title of the Oct. 14, 2003, Business Report cover story was no doubt designed to grab attention. "This chicken could change your life," it read, behind a picture of the eponymous bird, head cocked to the side, looking out quizzically from the newsstand. TransGenRx, the story explained, had figured out a way to grow materials for protein-based medicines inside genetically modified chickens. Founded on LSU research with state support and private money, the company was going to revolutionize biotechnology and make lifesaving and life-improving drugs cheaper and more accessible. But as Business Report details in a new story from the current issue, by the summer of 2013, TransGenRx was in bankruptcy court, owing almost $7.9 million. "Today, its core technology survives as the basis of a new company called ProteoVec," reads the story by David Jacobs. "That technology, recently purchased by Baton Rouge's Svendson family, still might have commercial potential, and might one...

'Business Report': Regenerating TransGenRx

Last summer, TransGenRx was in bankruptcy court, owing almost $7.9 million. Today, its core technology survives as the basis of a new company called ProteoVec. As Business Report details in its current issue, the biotech breakthrough still might have commercial potential and one day help put the tiny local biotech sector on the map. "This community, and this technology, deserved a shot," says John Uhrin, ProteoVec's president. "When it went through the bankruptcy, it was taken apart. Now we're putting it back together." The technology was recently purchased by Baton Rouge's Svendson family. Uhrin says he began working with the Svendsons as a "distant consultant" this July when they formed ProteoVec. The new company in September bought TransGenRx's intellectual property and technical equipment for $400,000 as the sole bidder in a bankruptcy court auction. Uhrin says ProteoVec utilizes essentially the same technology and some of the same core employees as TGRx, but its business...

Regenerating TransGenRx

The title of the Oct. 14, 2003, Business Report cover story was no doubt designed to grab attention.

LSU embarks on $1 million quest to build big data computation capabilities

From engineering to coastal studies, top researchers at LSU easily share a campus. But their ability to share data across cyberspace is another story. As Business Report details in a new magazine feature, the data sets they collect, analyze and store in the course of their research are known as "big data." The mountains of information are so large and detailed that they cannot be processed, searched and analyzed using traditional data management and analytics tools. The data is often unstructured, so it is not formatted in uniform, predefined ways. As a result, researchers cannot readily share data, even though information that could prove useful for researchers in one discipline may lie within another discipline's data set. LSU researchers are looking for a solution to the big data problem. They recently received a grant of almost $1 million from the National Science Foundation for a campuswide project aimed at bringing big data computation capabilities to research groups...

Kristy Andries

Kristy Andries often says her entire family was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on August 25, 2001. That was the day she learned her 17-year-old son, Bradley, had the disease.

The big data challenge

From engineering to coastal studies, top researchers at LSU easily share a campus. But their ability to share data across cyberspace is another story.

LSU FACES lab compiling database for missing people

Claxton Mark Mayo was involved in a traffic accident on Interstate 20 on March 30, 2011. The Advertiser reports surveillance footage shows Mayo entering a Ouachita Parish truck stop, but the cameras never filmed him leaving. That's the last time anyone has seen Mayo. He was reported missing to the Bienville Parish Sheriff's Office more than two years ago, and he's never been found. Now the case joins more than 200 others in the missing persons database operated by the FACES Lab at LSU. Director Mary Manhein and her staff are working with local law enforcement agencies across Louisiana to compile a central database of all the state's missing and unidentified people. "Nobody is going out and aggressively searching for these cases like we are," Manhein tells the Lafayette newspaper. "We're the only state that has an effort on this kind of scale." The FACES Lab (an acronym for Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services) has been compiling the database since 2004. It...

The ailing techster

For years, we've been warned about the electromagnetic radiation our cell phones emit.

Epic tech

BUMP Easily share contact information, photos, videos and documents by simply bumping two phones together. Bump works on iPhone, Android and now computers, too. bu.mp

Twitter IPO as economical as its tweets

Twitter's $10.9 billion initial public offering valuation is as economical as its 140-character tweets, Bloomberg reports. The San Francisco-based company is seeking a valuation of 9.5 times 2014 sales in its IPO next month, according to data released in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday and analyst projections compiled by Bloomberg. That's 27% cheaper than the 12.9 times 2014 sales that Facebook traded at as of yesterday, and 29% lower than LinkedIn's multiple of 13.4 times sales, the data show. The discount Twitter is offering underscores how the six-year-old short-messaging site is working to avoid the fate of Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, which all lost more than half of their value within six months of their initial offerings. Twitter Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo has taken a different tack from the start, first by filing confidentially to go public to avoid the hype that drove up Facebook's pre-IPO valuation and now by pricing the company more...

By Providence

In September, Baton Rouge-based Providence, an engineering and environmental firm, announced major developments involving two of its air quality technologies. While one project remains in the design stage, the other is being rolled out internationally.

Reddit co-founder says B.R. could produce 'the next big thing'

When asked what he's anticipating most about his upcoming visit to Baton Rouge—during which he'll deliver the keynote address at Business Report's Innovation & Technology Breakfast—Alexis Ohanian says he wants to "eat lots of crawfish." Although he's a little out of season for a traditional boil, the way the Reddit co-founder sees it he may be arriving in Baton Rouge just in time for the next big technological breakthrough. "The promise of the open Internet is that if you've got an Internet connection in a laptop, you can start the next empire or change the world from your keyboard—you don't have to be in Silicon Valley," he says. "All the more reason why visiting Baton Rouge to talk about Internet entrepreneurship is exciting: because it could produce the next big thing." Ohanian, whom Forbes has called the "Mayor of the Internet," will address the breakfast gathering on Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza, 4728 Constitution Ave. Doors will open at 7:30...

'Business Report' introduces new mobile format

Starting today, Business Report readers and Daily Report subscribers on the go will discover a new mobile-optimized platform on their iPhones and iPads. Readers can now scroll easily through headlines by swiping the screen up and down, and review full stories by swiping left and right. A simplified sharing tool allows readers to post stories to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, or forward an item of interest to a friend. Via other one-step features, users viewing a story can quickly find items with related content or add it to their favorites. Says Publisher Rolfe McCollister: "We are continually striving to innovate and deliver the news our readers want using technology that makes it easier to access anytime or anywhere." Daily Report was the first daily e-newsletter published in Louisiana starting in 1998, and it now delivers the latest news from the Capital Region twice a day. Subscriptions are free at businessreport.com under "e-newsletters."...

Wearable tech industry revenues expected to triple in next 15 years

The digital domain is creeping off our desktops and onto our bodies, from music players that match your tunes to your heart beat to mood sweaters that change color depending on your emotional state—blue for calm, red for angry. There are vacuum shoes that clean the floor while you walk and fitness bracelets, anklets and necklaces to track your calorie burning. "Everyone agrees the race is just beginning, and I think we're going to see some very, very big leaps in just the next year," tech entrepreneur Manish Chandra told The Associated Press at a wearable technology conference and fashion show in San Francisco on Monday that was buzzing with hundreds of developers, engineers and designers. Wearable technologies have long been a sideshow to mainstream laptops and smartphones, but this year Google's glasses and rumors of Apple's iWatch are popularizing the field. Analysts forecast swift growth. Last year the market for wearable technology—encompassing everything from...

Louisiana the worst state for women, report says

Higher than average poverty, as well as fewer leadership opportunities and health care options make Louisiana the worst state a woman could find herself in. So says "The State of Women in America: A 50-State Analysis of How Women Are Faring Across the Nation," a report released today by the Center for American Progress. The report analyzes conditions for women in each U.S. state using data in "three categories that are critical to women's overall well-being: economics, leadership, and health," says the Washington D.C.-based public policy research and advocacy organization. "Within each of those three categories, we analyze multiple factors—36 factors overall." Louisiana is among 10 states to receive an overall F grade in the report. In 2012, the report says 13.6% of U.S. men lived in poverty, compared to 16.3% of women. In Louisiana last year, 22.2% of women lived below the poverty line, with even higher percentages for black (36.1%) and hispanic women (27%). Louisiana is given...

B.R. biotech startup lands funding to develop cancer therapies

Baton Rouge-based biotechnology startup K94 Discoveries says it has closed on $300,000 in seed funding to further its work on anticancer technology discovered by Dr. William Hansel of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. K94 is working to develop cancer therapies based on the hormone receptor-targeting discoveries by Hansel, for whom Pennington's William Hansel Cancer Prevention research unit is named. Along with the research unit at Pennington, LSU's Feist Willer Cancer Center in Shreveport is conducting research for K94, the company says. "We are fortunate in Louisiana to have access to extraordinary scientists such as Dr. Hansel, who think 'outside the box' in devising new ways to combat cancer," says Ross Barrett, interim president of K94 and managing partner of BVM Capital, which provided the funding to the company via its Themelios Ventures II LP fund. "Early data suggest that combining his pioneering work in hormone receptor-targeting therapies with novel anticancer...

Tech review: Slick iOS 7 shines on Apple's new iPhones

One of the best things about Apple's latest iPhones is the slick new iOS 7 software that runs the devices, says The Associated Press' Michael Liedtke in his review of the new phones unveiled Tuesday. "But that souped-up operating system could end up hurting sales because the free software upgrade will also work on iPhones released since 2010, giving owners of the older models less incentive to buy Apple's newest products," Liedtke says. "Perhaps unwittingly, even Apple's software boss Craig Federighi alluded to this potential problem while he was bragging about iOS 7 at the company's unveiling of its new phones Tuesday. He predicted that anyone who elects to install the software will feel 'like they're getting an all-new device.'" Although the iPhone 5C is less expensive than its predecessor, the iPhone 5, Liedtke says the iOS 7 almost makes it look fancier than previous generations. "As an iPhone 5 owner, I was feeling a bit envious until I remembered that I'll be able to spiff up...

Wal-Mart getting into smartphone trade-in business

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching a smartphone trade-in program later this month that will help consumers trade up to the newest phones available. The world's biggest retailer announced this morning that consumers will receive a credit from $50 to $300 when they trade in their working, undamaged phone. The credit can be used toward the purchase of a new phone, with a selection of more than 100 devices to choose from. This includes some smartphones with prepaid plans. Wal-Mart says that consumers can receive $300 credit for an Apple iPhone 5, $175 for a Samsung Galaxy SIII and $52 for a Samsung Galaxy S2. Phones can be traded in at the electronics departments of more than 3,600 participating Walmart stores and Sam's Club locations in the U.S. Consumers will need to enter a two-year contract for the new phone with AT&T, Verizon Wireless or Sprint. Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise for Wal-Mart U.S., said in a statement that trade-in programs are becoming...

La. school districts beefing up technology

Over the past year, school districts across the state have upgraded or purchased 65,281 computers, tablets and other devices, according to the Louisiana Department of Education. That means more than 86% of Louisiana public school students attend a school that meets the department's minimum technology standard of one computing device for every seven students. In all, the department says 1,208 schools and 37 districts meet that standard, compared to 812 schools and 17 districts in January 2013. Eight districts meet a more ambitious 3-to-1 ratio, including Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, and St. Helena in the Capital Region. While the total cost to districts was not available, officials say the department helps defray costs via partnerships with vendors such as Hewlett Packard. Additionally, the department says 37 districts meet the minimum standard for Internet bandwidth or network capacity, and 18 meet the standard for one or the other. The state's district-by-district...

Investor says troubled biotech company still has potential

Local businessman Martin Svendson, a shareholder in the much-hyped, early-stage biotech TransGenRx for about eight years, is part of a group that's trying "to bring the company back to life." The company, which was built on LSU AgCenter research, filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. Like other people connected to the venture, Svendson isn't ready to talk about the business issues that brought TransGenRx to this point, but he still believes in the concept. "The technology is viable," he says. "It's my hope to stay right here in Baton Rouge on the LSU campus." The company, which sought to produce low-cost pharmaceutical proteins from genetically engineered chickens, was one of the first tenants of the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center at LSU. "This chicken could change your life," read the title of an October 2003 Business Report cover story. Richard Cooper, the company's founding scientist,

Tech city

A year ago, the corporate site selection publication Business Facilities ranked Louisiana No. 1 in the nation among Digital Media Leaders, giving special mention to Baton Rouge.

Keeping track

Nearly 10 years after real-time package- and people-tracking went viral with the advent of GPS-enabled cell phones, small businesses face two big concerns.

Baton Rouge named nation's No. 3 city for chemical engineers

High average salaries, great job opportunities and a relatively low cost of living make Baton Rouge among the nation's best cities for chemical engineers, according to data and research firm ValuePenguin. Baton Rouge is ranked third on the firm's list of the Best Cities for Chemical Engineers, behind Texas neighbors Beaumont and Houston. According to the list, the approximately 1,340 chemical engineers in Baton Rouge enjoy "a high median salary, $108,240, while still enjoying a low cost of living compared to most cities in the U.S." Louisiana Chemical Association President Dan Borné notes that Lake Charles is also ranked fifth on the list and says the "tsunami of new investment" that's been announced in the state means the future is bright for chemical engineers, not only in Baton Rouge, but across south Louisiana. "That is precisely why we are so excited about the $100 million public-private partnership that will expand the LSU College of Engineering" and Patrick F. Taylor Hall, he...

LSU may consider 'research foundation' to foster tech transfer

LSU's Transition Advisory Team is working to finalize its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, which asked for help as it tries to reorganize the LSU System into a more cohesive "One LSU." One of the major topics of conversation at the team's Commercialization and Technology Transfer Task Force today was the possible creation of a "research foundation" that would help focus and coordinate the system's research efforts, while facilitating commercialization of university research. Joe Lovett, managing general partner at the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center, says the university won't realize the potential revenue of its research if the work stays in the lab. "That's the emphasis, get it out the door and see what happens," he told the task force. Georgia Tech was mentioned as a university that has had success with the research foundation model, though task force members today said LSU wouldn't necessarily duplicate another university's model. Today's meeting also touched on...

Study: Youth attitudes shift toward conservation, compassion during Great Recession

The full effect of the Great Recession on the nation's next generation of leaders won't be known for a while, but a new analysis of a long-term survey of high school students provides an early glimpse at ways their attitudes shifted in the first years of this most recent economic downturn. Among the findings: Young people showed signs of being more interested in conserving resources and a bit more concerned about their fellow human beings. Compared with youths who were surveyed a few years before the recession hit, more of the Great Recession group also was less interested in big-ticket items such as vacation homes and new cars—though they still placed more importance on them than young people who were surveyed in the latter half of the 1970s, an era with its own economic challenges. Either way, it appears this latest recession "has caused a lot of young people to stop in their tracks and think about what's important in life," says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San...

Board of Regents lands NASA grant

A proposal by the Louisiana Board of Regents to create an instrument to measure the radiation risk to humans in outer space is one of 14 from colleges and universities across the country selected for funding, NASA announced today. Each of the 14 selected proposals are to receive a maximum of $750,000 from NASA over three years. John Wefel, LSU physics professor and director of the Louisiana Space Consortium, is among the Louisiana educators whose proposal was selected. Others are Neil Crews and Lee Sawyer, both of Louisiana Tech University, Pedro Derosa of Grambling State University, and Karl Hasenstein of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. "The world is pressing toward an extended human presence in space," reads the Board of Regents proposal. "However, the high uncertainty associated with radiation risk to humans is currently prohibitive. We propose a new instrument for ground and space-based experiments aimed at better quantification of this risk." Other proposals selected for...

And the survey says …

The results of two surveys about Baton Rouge parks were released last week, each meant to give us an idea of what locals want in two very different, yet equally strategic parks. And those results were kinda meh.

Safety Council to train the trainers in Ascension

The Alliance Safety Council, based on Reiger Road with an office in Addis, will break ground next month for an 11,000-square-foot facility in Ascension Parish. The building will host an OSHA Outreach Training Institute, one of only 28 in the country and only three in OSHA's Region 6, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. LSU College of Engineering is collaborating with the Safety Council on the project, council President/CEO Kathy Trahan explains, which is important to OSHA in part because of new safety standards being implemented in the oil and gas sector. "We will be training the trainers for a five-state area," Trahan says. The beginning of construction closely follows two recent fatal accidents at Ascension Parish chemical plants; while the timing is coincidental, Trahan says the incidents serve to re-emphasize the importance of the Safety Council's work. "We are very serious about...

Levee from Morganza to the Gulf is 'economically justified,' says corps

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has concluded that construction of a 98-mile-long, $10.3 billion Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane levee system that will protect Houma and surrounding communities from storm surges "is economically justified, environmentally acceptable and engineeringly sound." The Times-Picayune reports that the conclusions are contained in a recent proposed design report/environmental impact statement released by Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, chief of engineers for the corps. The report contains minor changes from a version released in January by New Orleans corps officials. The new report concludes that the project will produce $1.40 in benefits for every $1 spent on its construction. That's up from the $1.31 in benefits estimated in the January version of the report. The new chief's report was required after the estimated cost of the new levee system skyrocketed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, Congress authorized spending $887 million on the...

Joey Coco

On the first day of the MBA program, Joey Coco's class defined “an entrepreneur” as someone who brings disparate resources together to create value.

No laughing matter

Baton Rouge often is accused of having a closed, insular business culture. So if you're looking to open things up, as John Schneider is, perhaps it makes sense to bring in a globe-trotting European to run Springboard Baton Rouge, in hopes of launching exciting companies and perhaps changing that very culture.