BRF President and CEO John F. George Jr., M.D., and BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) Executive Director Dave Smith have been named to Silicon Bayou’s 2018 Top 100 list, which names Louisiana’s most influential people in tech and entrepreneurship. This is the fourth year both men have been included on this list.
George joined BRF in 2013 with a plan to add new business units focused on economic development, including EAP. He modeled his vision for EAP after the University of Texas at Austin IC2 Institute, one of the premier entrepreneurial think tanks in the country. EAP is a public/private partnership between BRF, the City of Shreveport and the Caddo Parish Commission to diversify the regional economy, create jobs and expand the area’s tax base by providing services to startups with high-growth potential.
George hired Smith, who has more than three decades of extensive experience in government contracts and initiatives, university technology transfer and early stage technology development, to lead EAP. Since its inception in 2013, EAP has screened more than 750 startup and business ideas in various industries. In the last five years, EAP has provided services to more than 230 startup companies that created more than 130 new jobs with an annual payroll over of over $7 million. EAP facilitated more than $69 million in capital generated by its startup companies.
In 2018, EAP used a federal grant to launch a $1.2 million expansion of its services to 21 North Louisiana parishes. The newly created North Louisiana Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (NorLEAP) provides services for entrepreneurs from the Mississippi River to the Arkansas and Texas borders.
Also, in 2018, EAP expanded its college pitch competition, the EAP Grand Prix, to include three Northwest Louisiana universities. The winners received cash prizes, free services from EAP analysts to help get their business ideas running and scholarships to the Louisiana Startup Prize. The competition will expand to two more North Louisiana schools in 2019.
BRF’s other economic development initiatives are the InterTech Science Park, the Digital Media Institute at InterTech (DMII), EdVentures, the Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy (CMIT), and Envision Research, formerly known as ORDA.