When the Acadiana area presented itself to international business representatives as a part of the Americas Competitiveness Exchange, research and development from various disciplines at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette was front and center, according to this news release from the school.
Senior officials across the Western Hemisphere and other nations toured Louisiana between March 26- April 1 as the state hosted the 14th Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE), an event that brings together over 60 global leaders who represent 21 countries and multiple international organizations in order to share best practices for economic development and to explore partnership opportunities.
According to Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, UL Lafayette’s vice president for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, this visit of over 75 economic development, industry, and political leaders to the ULL campus was a vital part of the Americas Competitiveness Exchange. The visit served as an opportunity for the ACE Program to forge business relationships and explore trade investment opportunities in Louisiana.
Dr. Kolluru said of the visit, “delegates will see firsthand and hear from our faculty about the high-quality public impact research that is conducted at our Carnegie Research 1 University. Being able to engage with this group is a wonderful opportunity to grow research partnerships within the Western Hemisphere. The University prides itself in conducting research that is both locally relevant and globally prominent.” Dr. Koluru noted that this historic visit would ideally signify the start of “conversations between potential partners, including partners who might invest in Louisiana or who might partner with UL in their native countries. At least one deal involving informatics seemed possible.”
At the ACE delegates’ visit to the UL Lafayette’s Student Union Ballroom, university faculty presented research from various disciplines campus-wide, with each related to the topics of climate change; computing and security; energy and sustainability; human, community, and economic development; and life sciences.
When Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced the historic visit to the school in his March press release, he called the opportunity of hosting the Americas Competitiveness Exchange both “an extraordinary honor and a unique opportunity for Louisiana business owners, entrepreneurs, innovators, and policymakers.”
Governor Edwards attributed the ACE Coordinating Committee’s decision to tour Louisiana for its 14th visit to “Louisiana’s diverse culture and economy command the attention of decision-makers from around the world seeking to learn from our example. And it raises awareness about the natural resources, infrastructure advantages, and business climate that have made Louisiana a national leader in per capita foreign direct investment for the past 10 years.”
Standing as one of the core initiatives of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC), the ACE program is organized in partnership with the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce, the International Trade Administration, and the U.S. Department of State.
Across their tour of Louisiana, the ACE delegation explored over 30 sites in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the greater Acadiana region, focusing on areas of bioscience, entrepreneurship, film production, healthcare, manufacturing, and tourism. The delegation visited with EDA grantees, which included the Claiborne Corridor Cultural Innovation District, GNO, Inc, New Orleans BioInnovation Center, The Water Institute, and the World War II Museum, as well as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
The visit to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette offered delegates an opportunity to take an inside look at research and various higher education workforce partnerships that support economic development. Additionally, when ACE delegates visited the area, they toured LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge in order to see the school’s labs in which innovative research into chronic disease triggers and treatment are actively creating hope for those suffering from obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia.
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