Leadership


Chris_WebChris Downing, P.E.
Vice President

Vice President of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech, Chris Downing has more than 25 years of leadership experience at Georgia Tech in technology-based economic development, university outreach and technical assistance, entrepreneurship and start-up support, and program management. Downing has served in a number of capacities in the development and success of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s primary economic development and outreach organization. His roles have included Associate Vice President of EI2, Director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), Associate Director of the ATDC incubator, and several years as a research engineer with the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

 

Downing played a key role in the expansion and development of ATDC at Technology Square including the origination of Georgia Tech’s research park and corporate collaboration spaces. His technology-based economic development efforts helped Georgia Tech and the Enterprise Innovation Institute win the prestigious “2014 Innovation Award” from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Tech Square’s ecosystem also won the “Outstanding Research Park Award” in 2014 from the Association of University Research Parks. Downing is currently leading a feasibility study for the expansion of Georgia Tech’s second research park, Technology Enterprise Park, into a broader life sciences and technology innovation district.

 

Downing’s engineering expertise includes energy efficiency and energy recovery systems, mechanical facilities design, indoor air quality, and manufacturing process systems.  He is a registered Professional Engineer in both Georgia and Florida and holds a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida.

 

John Avery
Director, ATDC

John is a serial entrepreneur who was part of four startups. A tech startup veteran with broad experience in data and wireless voice technologies, John was co-founder and chief technology officer of Convergence Corp., a maker of software that connects wireless devices to the Internet. Amazon acquired the company in 1999. Following that acquisition, he joined Amazon as engineering manager.

 

In 2001, John became an early employee of Mobliss, a mobile applications and messaging solutions company in the entertainment space. He later became the company’s chief technology officer. Japan’s Index Corp., a developer of mobile phone content and information and other media services such as video on demand, acquired Mobliss.

 

He holds six patents and owns Onboard Now, a developer of software for embedded devices such as smart phones, Web-enabled cameras, and industrial controls.

 

Most recently, he was engineering group manager of Panasonic Automotive Systems’ Panasonic Innovation Center at the Georgia Tech campus. At Panasonic, John oversaw the innovation center’s development projects in next-generation automotive systems including, infotainment, bio-sensing, machine vision, deep learning, and heads-up displays.

 

He is a Georgia Tech graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.


David_WebDavid Bridges

Director, Economic Development Lab

David Bridges is a Director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s (EI2) Startup Ecosystems group and AVP for EI2 International Initiatives.  His group advises governments, communities, universities and entrepreneurial support organizations, both in the United States and around the globe, on innovation-led economic development initiatives (ILED). The ILED activities foster collaborations among informal network players to drive public policy, strategic planning, startup ecosystem formation, and fiscal and economic impact metrics for which his group is a foremost authority.

 

Bridges has been with EI2 for more than 21 years. In that time, he has managed programs around technology transfer, co-development research, SBIR grants, seed fund management, international commercialization, incubation, acceleration, proof-of-concept centers, cluster development, university innovation centers, and startup ecosystems. Bridges is the author or co-author of more than $32 million in innovation-related grants for Georgia Tech, including the NASA Regional Technology Transfer Center, three EDA Innovation 6 projects, the EDA Jobs Accelerator, and the NIST Manufacturing Technology Acceleration Center.  Bridges is also the co-developer of the Georgia Tech Startup Ecosystem model currently in practice on several continents.

 

Bridges holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and a master’s degree from Georgia State University.

 


Karen_WebKaren Fite

Director, Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)

As the director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Karen Fite oversees the statewide outreach for service delivery to manufacturers and entrepreneurs. She is responsible for connecting businesses, manufacturers, and communities to Georgia Tech’s wealth of innovation and technology services, which is designed to elevate their competitive position and economic impact. Previously Fite was the state regional network manager for the GaMEP, leading the team of 10 regional managers in their outreach efforts.

 

Fite is an RAB-Certified Quality Management Systems Lead Auditor. As a member of the Center for International Standards and Quality (CISQ), she provides implementation assistance and training to companies pursuing ISO 9001. She has expertise in assisting companies in the implementation of Lean Principles in manufacturing, government and healthcare entities.
Her earlier experience includes the application of industrial and management engineering, employee involvement, and business principles.

 

Fite has a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Miami and a Bachelors of Science (Health Systems) degree from Georgia Tech.

 


Myrtle_WebMyrtle I. Turner Harris, Ph.D., MPH, CET
Director, Occupational Safety and Health Services, Enterprise Innovation Institute

Turner Harris leads the Georgia Tech Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Programs Office (ESOHPO) and Georgia Tech Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Training Institute Education Center (OTIEC). Established in 1992 to provide occupational safety and health and related training — Turner Harris expanded these programs’ course offerings and increased the number of courses offered annually across Region IV (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). Turner Harris played a major role in the development of the Georgia Tech Professional Master’s in Occupational Safety and Health (PMOSH) Program and serves as the Associate PMOSH Program Director.

 

She is a certified environmental safety and health trainer and has more than 29 years of experience in industrial hygiene and occupational safety and health. She is the president of the National Environmental Safety and Health Training Association (NESHTA) Board of Directors.

 

While working as a compliance safety and health officer for OSHA, she conducted numerous health and safety inspections in a variety of private and Federal workplaces. Turner Harris Holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Georgia State University and a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in general and environmental studies from Emory University.  She has a Ph.D. in higher education with an emphasis in occupational studies from Georgia State University.

 

 

Johanna Kaiser
Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures (GATV)

Johanna Kaiser has more than 13 years of leadership experience in real estate management, entrepreneurship/start-up support, and program management. She has served in a number of roles within the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s primary service and outreach organization. With a master’s degree in business administration from Georgia Tech, Johanna primarily supports GATV’s efforts in technology commercialization, incubator services, and real estate development.

 

 

 

Keith McGreggor
Director, VentureLab

Keith McGreggor is the director of VentureLab, Georgia Tech’s comprehensive center for technology commercialization that is open to all faculty, research staff, and students who want to form startup companies based upon their research. VentureLab transforms those innovations into companies by developing engaging business models, connecting the researcher with experienced entrepreneurs, locating sources of early-stage financing, and preparing these new companies for global markets.

 

McGreggor has been an entrepreneur for the last three decades. His first company, Artificial Intelligence Atlanta, was the first AI company in the Southeast, which led to a job in robotics for Lockheed. He has been a founder or co-founder of six software companies. McGreggor wrote and shipped the first 3D program (1984/5) and first color paint program (1987) for the Macintosh. He developed the color architecture for the Macintosh operating system and managed the graphics group at Apple Computer. A stint as co-founder of an internet company in the mid-1990s led to McGreggor becoming a director of engineering at Yahoo in 1999.

 

McGreggor holds bachelor and master’s degrees in computer science from Georgia Tech. He’s currently writing his dissertation on fractal visual analogies, in support of his Ph.D. in computer science from Georgia Tech.

 

 

Gregory T. Owen
Director of Human Resources

Gregory T. Owen serves as human resources director of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. He has also served as adjunct faculty for Georgia Tech teaching GT1000 for multiple semesters. He also holds an additional USG adjunct faculty appointment and teaches social science courses in the College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Gwinnett College.

 

He completed his graduate studies at Georgia State University with a Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy and a Master’s of Science in Educational Psychology. He has more than 15 years’ experience working in higher education and in the field of human resources. His research interests include policy and organizational development, performance management, human resources process improvement, and qualitative research design.

 


Peralte_WebPéralte C. Paul
Marketing & Communications Manager, Enterprise Innovation Institute

Paul has been with the Georgia Institute of Technology since 2014. He has more than 20 years media and communications experience as a reporter and writer for various news outlets — including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Florida Times-Union, and The Jersey Journal — and as an editor in online news media at Aol. He has covered a number of different business-related topics, including Banking, Economic Development, Georgia Agriculture/Agribusiness, and Law. He also has a public relations background having worked for a boutique, New York-based public relations agency where he worked on a number of business-to-business and business-to-consumer accounts. Paul is a graduate of Rutgers University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English, with a concentration in journalism.