Last month, Fluence Analytics, an advanced manufacturing startup company co-founded by Tulane physics professor Wayne Reed, was acquired by an international corporation. The technology that Wayne originally developed in a Tulane lab, which brings revolutionary improvements in efficiency and sustainability to the trillion-dollar polymer manufacturing industry, will now have a worldwide impact.
Creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation are at the core of who we are as a university and as a city. New Orleans has historically been renowned for its innovations in areas that enrich and enhance life — jazz music, Creole food and literature, for example. We are now on the cusp of a new era of New Orleans-based innovation, with new technologies that will transform and save lives.
Innovation and Culture is the overarching theme of this year’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, an annual gathering presented by The Idea Village that brings together startup founders, aspiring entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts and thought leaders to explore trends and share ideas. NOEW will run March 27th through April 1st, and most sessions are free and open to the public. (If “NOEW” seems like one of those hard-to-pronounce New Orleans names, don’t worry: just say “NOH-wee.”)
On Thursday, March 30th, Tulane’s Innovation Institute and our new partners at LCMC Health will team up to present a NOEW Biotech Mini-Summit. Along with Kimberly Gramm, head of the Innovation Institute and the David and Marion Mussafer Chief Innovation and Entrepreneurship Officer, I am delighted to give the introductory remarks for NOEW’s headlining speaker, AOL co-founder Steve Case, as part of this mini-summit. Walter Isaacson, the Leonard Lauder Professor of American History and Values and recent recipient of the National Humanities Medal, will interview Case about his new book Rise of the Rest, which argues that the next frontier of innovation can be found far from the traditional tech hubs of Silicon Valley, New York and Boston. Case believes that innovation thrives in a creative culture, so New Orleans is naturally one of the cities he’s zeroed in on as a startup community to watch.
Of course, innovation also needs the right resources to succeed. Tulane’s particular strengths in medicine, science and engineering, and public health enable us to support the biotech revolution — which, according to both Case and Isaacson, is rapidly supplanting the digital revolution.
Stepping up our involvement with NOEW is a natural progression for Tulane. From launching the Innovation Institute to redeveloping Charity Hospital, our efforts in downtown New Orleans are setting the city and the region on a path to prominence as a center of lifesaving and life-improving advances and breakthroughs. We are also creating an infrastructure to support future innovators like Wayne in bringing transformative technologies to market.
Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or you’re simply interested in learning more about the innovation scene, I hope you will join us next week, or watch the livestream if you can't make it downtown. Once you know NOEW, you’ll have a better understanding of how Tulane and New Orleans can serve as a hub of innovation and creativity with the power to make a lasting impact on the world.