BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) celebrated its fifth year of operation and the launch of 10 new portfolio companies joining EAP’s 34 Wall of Entrepreneurial Achievement companies with a program that featured remarks by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins.

Officials and BRF/EAP leadership recognized the companies and representatives in an event at BRF’s InterTech 1 facility in Shreveport. BRF President and CEO John F. George Jr., M.D. explained EAP is an economic development initiative and partnership that formed five years ago between the Caddo Parish Commission, the City of Shreveport and BRF to launch and grow startups locally to diversify the region’s economy. Since its inception, EAP has broadened its reach across 21 North Louisiana parishes and has provided services to 260 startups.

Services cover startup needs from forming a business plan to pitching to accredited angel investors. Some EAP startups have the opportunity to receive investment from two of North Louisiana’s first angel funds – the New Louisiana Angel Funds 1 and 2, of which BRF is the managing member.

In five years, EAP’s team of business analysts, led by EAP Executive Director Dave Smith, has vetted 859 ideas or companies. More than 70 of those have gone on to receive funding through angel investors, grants or banks – bringing $74 million in new capital to the area. More than 210 jobs are associated with the portfolio companies, which have an annual payroll of $11.7 million.

The 10 new companies announced at the event and many in EAP’s portfolio have taken advantage of Louisiana Economic Development (LED) incentives, including Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, the Opportunity Zone program and the Restoration Tax Abatement program.

“What the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program has been able to accomplish in the last five years is remarkable,” said Gov. Edwards. “I congratulate BRF and EAP on their success in helping to bring more than 210 new jobs to North Louisiana by building a supportive network for entrepreneurs, by leveraging local and state economic development partnerships, and by making use of the incentives available to them. From 1980 to 2005, firms less than five years old accounted for all net job growth in the U.S. In Louisiana, more than half of our private sector workforce is employed by small businesses, and 97 percent of Louisiana businesses are small businesses. EAP is playing a key role in helping these entrepreneurs move our state forward.”

“The City of Shreveport is a proud partner of EAP,” said Mayor Perkins. “With the city’s support, EAP is helping to invigorate our local economy, launching companies that provide new job opportunities for our residents, bringing $74 million in capital investment to our region and establishing our city as a place where entrepreneurs can make their ideas reality.”

Additional announcements at the program from EAP’s portfolio companies included three Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, two of which are part of the U.S. Air Force AFWERX initiative that empowers airmen to find answers to problems by using new technologies and best practices. The SBIR program encourages domestic businesses to engage in federal research and research and development that has the potential for commercialization and to meet the nation’s specific research and development needs.

Paramount Innovative Solutions received a Phase I AFWERX SBIR contract in the amount of $50,000 for a low cost, rapid production virtual reality training platform to help Barksdale Air Force Base-headquartered 307th Bomb Wing develop new training aids for developing exceptional B-52 aircrew.

Oleolive received a Phase I $50,000 AFWERX SBIR for technology to aid with the care of casualties in austere environments.

Yet another SBIR, in the amount of $450,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Aging, was awarded to Oleolive for a new compound to treat Alzheimer’s disease. A majority of the research for that compound will take place at BRF’s InterTech 1 facility on the Shreveport Healthcare and Development Corridor.

EAP portfolio company Embera NeuroTherapeutics, which licensed a LSU Health Sciences Center technology, announced the non-dilutive grant funding awards for two EMB-001 Phase 2 efficacy studies.

The first is from the Rose Research Center in North Carolina which plans to evaluate the EMB-001 smoking cessation product in a Phase 2a clinical study as part of the Center’s five-year grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World to evaluate promising smoking cessation treatments.

The second award is the final year of Embera’s $11.1 million U01 grant from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse Division of the NIH. This award will fund an EMB-001 Phase 2 efficacy study in cocaine use disorder. Both studies are expected to begin treating subjects in Q1, 2020.

2019 EAP startups

Lowder Baking Company – Locally made, high-quality baked goods, including King Cakes, crafted for individual customers, restaurants and vendors

o Founders Preston and Sarah Lowder

ACT One Health – Real-time telemedicine providing preventative services, remote monitoring and integrated pharmacy services to chronic care patients

o CEO Gus Bonin

Andress Artist and Entrepreneur Center – A downtown Shreveport hub for creativity, collaboration and community which will house an artist co-op, artist-managed gallery, space for startups and companies providing startup resources

o Entrepreneur Jim Malsch

CurbTek – On-demand, mobile oil change, routine maintenance and repairs for individual vehicles, equipment and commercial fleets

o Founder and CEO Dalton Dean

Every Man a King Distilling – A world-class distillery and entertainment venue in the historic Arlington Hotel building in the heart of downtown Shreveport

o Founders Andrew Larson, M.D., and Lindsey Pennington, M.D.

MoneyBall DFS – A new approach to fantasy sports that brings the excitement of traditional Daily Fantasy Sports to casual and novice players everywhere

o Founder Keyvan Shahrdar

Eve’s Revenge Snake Snares – Patent-pending barrier trapping system to deter and trap snakes

o CEO Chris Romano

Paramount Innovative Solutions – Low-cost, rapid production virtual reality/gaming desktop trainer for the Air Force Litening Advanced Targeting Pod

o Principal Investigator Marshall Anschutz

Advanced Aero Concepts – Aviation maintenance repair and overhaul organization servicing the commercial airline industry

o CEO Mike Anderson

Bia Energy – World-class petrochemical production facility utilizing best-in-class technology

o Founders Alfredo Forte, MS; Ana Rodriguez, Ph.D.; Albert Selius, CFA

AFRL and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research process in an attempt to speed up the experience, broaden the pool of potential applicants and decrease bureaucratic overhead. Beginning in SBIR 18.2, and now in 19.2, the Air Force has begun offering ‘Special’ SBIR topics that are faster, leaner and open to a broader range of innovations.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute On Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R43AG065069. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

The planned Embera cocaine use disorder clinical research discussed in this press release is being supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under grant number U01DA038879-03. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.