Peachtree Corners readies for incubator program launch with ATDC, Startup Ecosystems

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More than 200 entrepreneurs, business and community leaders and residents in the city of Peachtree Corners converged May 27 to get a preview of Prototype Prime, the new technology incubator set to open in July 2016.

 

The 12,000-square-foot facility in Technology Park — a former office space — is located below Peachtree Corners City Hall and is currently being renovated to accommodate Prototype Prime.

 

The incubator will provide space and access to education, tools, venture capitalists, and other services to help local entrepreneurs launch and scale their startups.

 

“It’s a win-win for communities with a successful incubator,” said Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason. “Not only is the success much greater when there is an incubator program to help support startups in their early years, those new business owners tend to stay in the same community adding jobs as their businesses grow.”

 

The main goal of an incubator is to produce successful firms, which have the potential to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods and strengthen local economies.

 

The city partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Startup Ecosystems and Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) programs in its efforts to launch the business incubator.

 

Startup Ecosystems helps governments, communities, foundations, entrepreneurs, and small businesses foster value creation by applying innovative ideas, technology, and policy to initiatives focused on economic growth.

 

ATDC, which is the statewide incubator for technology entrepreneurs in Georgia, offers support by providing expertise and resources launching and maintaining a successful incubator program.

 

Both are part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), which serves as the core unit for Georgia Tech’s economic development efforts.

 

The Peachtree Corners initiative began in 2015 when Startup Ecosystems conducted a Community Readiness Assessment for a business incubation program in the city. The drive was part of a larger effort to encourage economic development.

 

“Our team, led by Lynne Henkiel and Juli Golemi, engaged leadership, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders to determine if Peachtree Corners not only desired a business incubation program, but could support it, too, “ said David Bridges, Startup Ecosystems’ director. “Our research analysis of the city’s economic and demographic data, along with its innovation characteristics, showed significant support for the development of an incubation program in Peachtree Corners.”

 

The city, working through Wayne Hodges, a cofounder of ATDC and vice provost emeritus of Georgia Tech, drafted an agreement with ATDC, which will run the incubation program at Prototype Prime.

 

“There is a huge need for a business incubator in this area,” said Sanjay Parekh, Prototype Prime’s executive director and associate director of CREATE-X at Georgia Tech. “We are already receiving feedback from many who are interested in being part of the program.”

 

Investing in an incubator service can provide real returns. According to a 2007 study by the Maryland Technology Development Corp., incubators in that state generated approximately $1.2 billion in gross state product and $100 million in state and local tax revenue.

Georgia Tech’s Startup Ecosystems wins $250,000 federal grant

By Péralte C. Paul

Grupo Guayacán, headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a non-profit organization that works with entrepreneurs and private equity investment entities to help the island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem develop and grow. The organiziation has partenered with Georgia Tech's Startup Ecosystems and VentureLab I-Corps Puerto Rico programs to create classes, workshops, and other intiatives toward that effort.

Grupo Guayacán, headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a non-profit organization that works with entrepreneurs and private equity investment entities to help the island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem develop and grow. The organization has partnered with Georgia Tech’s Startup Ecosystems and VentureLab I-Corps Puerto Rico programs to create classes, workshops, and other intiatives toward that effort.

 

Startup Ecosystems, a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology that helps governments, communities, and other groups with their economic growth initiatives, has won a $250,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program.

 

Separately, the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), a Georgia Tech affiliate, has been awarded a $249,981 RIS grant for its Medical Technology (MedTech) Seed Fund & Accelerator Program.

 

The 2015 RIS program is managed by EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) and is designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the U.S. through two different competitions: the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grants. The 25 total awardees in both competitions, announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Feb. 8, will receive $10 million in grants.

 

“This 2015 Regional Innovation Strategy cohort of grantees is truly an exciting group — the diversity in programs and regional representation proves that innovation and entrepreneurship are igniting all corners of the country,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “From Puerto Rico to Pittsburgh, and Seattle to Blacksburg, these programs will reach all kinds of communities and help entrepreneurs gain the edge they need to succeed.”

 

Startup Ecosystems, which is part of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, is working with EnterPRize Events and Grupo Guayacan in Puerto Rico to help foster the Caribbean island’s startup ecosystem.

 

“These types of investments are critical to address the economic barriers that exist for many bright and budding entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico,” said Rafael L. Bras, Georgia Tech’s provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “From proof to seed and startup, the life cycle of such ventures can experience a multitude of vulnerabilities if funding isn’t available early on in the venture. Capital-based and technical support systems provided through the Seed Fund Support award provide vital bridge-gap resources, allowing these underrepresented innovators to bring exciting new ventures to the market.”

 

The EDA grant will give Puerto Rico-based startups access to small, early-stage investments for moving customer-validated ideas to the marketplace, said David Bridges, Startup Ecosystems’ director.

 

“Georgia Tech is fortunate to be a partner with EnterPRize Events and Grupo Guayacan in the establishment of this first-ever seed fund for Puerto Rico,” Bridges said. “The Innovation Driven Enterprises or IDE seed fund will be used to support startups with high potential in their quest to reach both local and global markets.”

 

Georgia Tech has worked on efforts such as these with members of Puerto Rico’s startup system for more than three years, Bridges noted. “We believe this grant is yet another important step toward growing a thriving innovation and entrepreneurship culture in Puerto Rico.”

 

For GCMI, the grant will help the program increase the availability of funding to early-stage companies and maximize the opportunities for follow-on private investments, said Executive Director Tiffany Wilson.

 

“GCMI works with university researchers, clinicians, and early-stage companies to help accelerate the development and commercialization of new medical device technologies,” Wilson said. “One critical hurdle that we see many startup device companies face is access to capital. This grant will enable GCMI to increase the availability of funding for early-stage companies and investing in companies that are solving real unmet clinical needs and customer problems.”

 

The program will have a particular emphasis on funding diverse startup teams and seeing a greater number of female engineers and clinicians involved in the entrepreneurial process, Wilson said. “We know that diverse teams show greater returns to investors.”

I-Corps Puerto Rico wins “Best Startup Program of the Year” award

By Péralte C. Paul

 

Picture2The H3 Tech Conference, Latin America’s premier innovation event that brings together hackers, the startup community, and the creative economy, named I-Corps Puerto Rico the “Best Startup Program of the Year.”

 

I-Corps Puerto Rico, which is a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Startup Ecosystems group, is a five-week, hands-on program designed to teach small teams of entrepreneurs how to launch innovative businesses through the fundamentals of the Customer Discovery method and the Business Model Canvas.

 

The initiative, which is entering its third year on the Caribbean island, is a collaborative effort of the Puerto Rico Science and Technology Trust, Grupo Guayacán, and Tech’s VentureLab startup incubator and commercialization program.

 

“This is an important milestone for us that underscores the work we have been doing in Puerto Rico these last two years,” said David Bridges, Startup Ecosystems’ director. “We have been working with our partners there to help strengthen the island’s startup network, using the proven I-Corps model.”

 

Startup Ecosystems helps governments, communities, foundations, entrepreneurs, and small businesses foster value creation by applying innovative ideas, technology, and policy to initiatives focused on economic growth.

 

The I-Corps Puerto Rico model is based on the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. The initiative is designed to prepare scientists and engineers to look beyond their laboratory research to commercialize their findings. It also aims to broaden the impact of select, NSF-funded, basic-research projects.

 

VentureLab runs the I-Corps program in the Southeast.

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“We’re happy the I-Corps Puerto Rico model has been recognized by the H3 Tech Conference,” said Keith McGreggor, VentureLab’s director. “It’s proven to help scientists and researchers become successful entrepreneurs, and our mission here in Puerto Rico is to help drive the growth of the startup ecosystem.”

 

The ultimate goal of the I-Corps Puerto Rico efforts is to help these entrepreneurs get to a point where together, they create a greater startup ecosystem that can become self-sustaining, Bridges said.

 

“Through the partnership with Georgia Tech to deliver I-Corps Puerto Rico, we have realized the great value that our entrepreneurs — at different stages of development — can get from going out there and talking to their customers,” said Laura Cantero, Grupo Guayacán’s executive director. “The experience has helped us introduce elements of the Customer Discovery method into every one of our programs and activities.”

 

Grupo Guayacán, headquartered in San Juan, is a non-profit organization that works with entrepreneurs, private equity investment entities, and programs such as I-Corps Puerto Rico to help the island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem develop and grow.

 

To date, nearly 40 entrepreneurial teams have gone through I-Corps Puerto Rico, representing a variety of industries ranging from life sciences to information technology, among others. A third cohort of I-Corps Puerto Rico will begin in April of this year.

 

“The program has allowed Guayacán to tap into new sources and pockets of innovation with great commercialization potential, including our top universities and research centers,” Cantero said. “One of our proudest achievements has been the acceptance of one of our I-Corps Puerto Rico Alumni into the national I-Corps program. This milestone proves the quality of our local entrepreneurial talent and signals that we’re moving in the right direction.”