La. Technology Park getting frequency test lab

Research Park Corp. approved spending $169,000 on Thursday to build a radio frequency lab to aid research by wireless communications firms and universities.

The lab will be in the Louisiana Technology Park, 7117 Florida Blvd., in the Bon Carré Business Center.

The facility had been requested by tech park tenant Bascom Hunter, which holds a $716,000 contract for development of an interference cancellation system for U.S. Navy wireless communications.

A local test lab is needed for such projects, said Brian Fix, Bascom Hunter’s chief financial officer.

“I want to go here,” Fix said of the laboratory. “I want to go here instead of New Jersey.”

Andrew McCandless, Bascom Hunter’s president, sent a letter, dated Jan. 2, in which he said the firm has rented expensive space at a Pennsylvania facility to test its products in the past.

McCandless said he wants to reduce travel and lab expenses by keeping such operations in Baton Rouge.

Shuangqing Wei, a professor at the LSU College of Engineering, said in a letter dated Jan. 3 the new lab would be welcome support for “the study and development of algorithms for next-generation wireless communication systems and networks” already in progress.

“I would be willing to include funding to cover the cost of using the RF laboratory in my future grant applications,” he said.

Stephen Loy, executive director of the technology park, told members of RPC’s executive committee that, in addition to LSU researchers, laboratory time could be booked by other tech companies that have expressed an interest in the facility.

“I think this could be a very important asset for the technology park,” Loy said.

The laboratory will cost $190,000, Loy added. But he said RPC’s bylaws permitted approval of the first $169,000 by vote of the executive committee. That amount is equal to 10 percent of the RPC’s annual budget.

The full board would need to approve the final $21,000 for completion of the lab, Loy explained. Meanwhile, work on the facility can proceed.

“This is certainly the seed of something,” Loy said.

Fix said after the meeting the lab could be finished this year.

“A research lab will do nothing but help us improve our technology,” Fix said. “There’s not a local alternative. There is no regional facility that I have access to.”