LSU-led Team Named Finalist for $160 Million Federal Grant

June 15, 2023

National Science Foundation Inaugural Regional Initiative Pushes for Regional Innovation; LSU’s Focus Is on Energy Transition

BATON ROUGE ­­-- An LSU-led statewide team of universities, community and technical colleges, agencies and industry has been named a finalist for one of five $160 million National Science Foundation grants. The team’s goal is to support energy transition and decarbonization through technology and talent development across Louisiana’s industrial corridor.

“Many industries worldwide are embracing carbon-reduction goals, but successful attainment of these aims requires collective engagement to bolster large-scale scientific investigations. Furthermore, this endeavor encompasses not only technical studies but also policy, education, and community engagement," emphasized LSU President William F. Tate IV. "We are confident that Louisiana has the potential to emerge as a global frontrunner in research and development aimed at resolving energy and hydrocarbon-related challenges. Securing the NSF grant would catalyze our transition towards a more sustainable future, while simultaneously addressing various economic, health, and racial disparities that have adversely affected our state.”

LSU’s Office of Innovation & Ecosystem Development submitted the $160 million grant proposal to the National Science Foundation Engines initiative in January 2023. LSU’s proposal was led by Andrew Maas, associate vice president for research. The massive endeavor involved the efforts of 150 people from more than 65 partner organizations, including Louisiana Economic Development, the state’s Department of Natural Resources, the Board of Regents, 13 universities, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, major corporations such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Baker Hughes, as well as nonprofits and economic development groups such as the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. The LSU-led consortium calls itself Engine for Louisiana Innovation and Transition of Energy, or ELITE. The goal of ELITE is to support cutting-edge research, grow energy-specific workforce development initiatives and accelerate energy-related technology commercialization through directed incubation, small business support and entrepreneurial training. LSU’s leadership in this effort is in direct alignment with the university’s Scholarship First Agenda, which positions energy and energy innovation as a top five research priority.

“Louisiana has long been an energy leader with more than 250,000 skilled workers in the oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical industries,” said Robert Twilley, LSU vice president of research and economic development. “Energy transition and sustainability efforts are a generational opportunity to educate and retain skilled workers, protect our communities and industries and create unparalleled opportunities for Louisiana.”

Engines is the largest program in NSF history. The agency Wednesday announced the finalists, which included 34 projects. NSF plans to award five grants later this year to teams that address a technological challenge of national significance.

ExxonMobil Refinery and Chemical Plant Manager Dave Luecke said Louisiana is uniquely qualified to lead the energy transition effort. "Louisiana industry has already demonstrated its commitment to greenhouse gas emission reductions with more than $27 billion announced in low-carbon solution projects," Luecke said. "By working together, the state and industry can spur the research, workforce training and new startup activities to produce the technology and talent that broadly benefits the community, and leads to a stronger, more sustainable economy and environment."

About LSU Innovation & Ecosystem Development

LSU Innovation works with the LSU research community to facilitate the evaluation, protection and licensing of intellectual property created at LSU. LSU Innovation also focuses on establishing, developing and growing technology-based startup companies. This work maximizes the university's impact on the intellectual, economic and social development of Louisiana and beyond. LSU Innovation helps LSU entrepreneurs and the community through the evaluation of their discoveries and ideas, mechanisms for protecting their innovations, marketing and industry negotiations for intellectual property and licensing and other agreements.