BRF team members make Silicon Bayou 100 entrepreneurship list

BRF President and CEO John F. George Jr., M.D. and Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) Executive Director Dave Smith have for the second year in a row been named to Silicon Bayou’s top 100 list of the most influential and active people in tech and entrepreneurship in Louisiana.

The list, published for the sixth year, was unveiled Thursday, Jan. 12 at a reception in New Orleans hosted by Silicon Bayou, a New-Orleans based startup and technology media company.

Dr. George, who joined BRF in 2013, was the visionary behind EAP. Counseled by Dr. John Sibley Butler of the University of Texas at Austin IC² Institute, one of the premier entrepreneurial think-tanks in the country, Dr. George sought to address the lack of a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem in North Louisiana, which has experienced economic downturn since oil and gas production slowed in the 1980s.

EAP, an initiative of BRF, is a public/private partnership between local government and the BRF to diversify the regional economy, create jobs and expand the area’s tax base by providing services to innovative startups that have high growth potential.

Dr. George hired Dave Smith, a 32-year veteran in government, technology transfer and early-stage technology development, to oversee the program. With Smith at the helm EAP has outperformed its annual goals for companies screened, job creation and local investment.

Under Dr. George’s and Smith’s direction, EAP has screened about 350 startups and business ideas, and provided direct services to more than 120 companies looking to launch and grow locally. EAP currently has under contract and is providing services to 24 local companies that have so far contributed 66 local jobs, representing an annual payroll of more than $4 million.

These companies have been able to garner more than $42 million in investment from angel investors, grants and banks to advance their operations.