Our Views: Festival touts La. innovation

Lafayette has developed a much-deserved reputation as a community that welcomes innovation. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has partnered with Drexel University in Philadelphia to explore new ways to analyze complex computer data. Lafayette’s local government has advanced high-speed fiber optic capacity throughout the city. Lafayette’s Festival International de Louisiane attracts musical talent from throughout the French-speaking world.

So we’re happy, but not surprised, that Lafayette is also host to INNOV8, an eight-day festival showcasing talented thinkers and entrepreneurs in health care, technology, education and the arts. This year’s festival is set for April 19-26, with events scheduled in several locations. Most events are free. A full list of events is available, along with more information, at http://innov8lafayette.com.

This year INNOV8 will see the return of The Vault, where contestants pitch their ideas to investors as they vie for $150,000 in venture funding; iOpener, showcasing advanced research and technology from the University of Louisiana and its Research Park; and Cajun Code Fest, where programmers compete for a $25,000 prize in a 36-hour coding marathon aimed at creating an innovative healthcare solution.

INNOV8 is an all-volunteer effort advanced by individuals, businesses, civic groups, nonprofit organizations, economic development groups, the University of Louisiana and all levels of government. Attendees at Lafayette will also have an opportunity to enjoy south Louisiana culture at Festival International, the nation’s best world music festival, which will kick off on April 24.

We commend the many volunteers who have worked to make INNOV8 possible, and we hope the festival is a success.