Jen Bonnett, general manager of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), has been named vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship for the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA).
Bonnett was also named executive director of The Creative Coast, which is partly funded by SEDA, the city of Savannah, and ATDC. She will leave Georgia Tech effective June 2, said Chris Downing, vice president and director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Tech’s economic development unit that includes ATDC.
Downing said EI2 will launch a national search for new general manager and that Jane McCracken, ATDC’s assistant director, will serve as interim general manager until a permanent replacement is found.
“Jen has done an exceptional job for Georgia Tech and ATDC over the past six years and her leadership of ATDC during the past two years has put us in an excellent position with a very strong bench,” Downing said. “The vision she had to accelerate ATDC’s scope and impact here in metro Atlanta and across the state will continue. I am extremely pleased her new position with SEDA will allow her to help us continue to build the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Savannah.”
A technology entrepreneur with more than 25 years’ experience in the information technology and software development fields with a specialty in Web and mobile technologies, Bonnett joined ATDC as a community catalyst in October 2011.
She held that role for three years before being named assistant director of education and curriculum in October 2014. She was named acting general manager in October 2015 and named general manager in July 2016.
“It has been an honor to serve the state of Georgia, the Institute and our Entrepreneurs for the last six plus years,” Bonnett said. “The ATDC team is amazing and I have full confidence that they will continue to create innovative, impactful programs and meaningful connections for our companies across the state to ensure ATDC’s future success.”
Among her many accomplishments, Bonnett helped ATDC secure two $1 million gifts to Georgia Tech that funded the creation of a financial technology and retail technology initiatives to identify and help entrepreneurs build viable Georgia-based companies in those sectors. In 2017, the incubator served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs across the state and she more than doubled the number of companies in ATDC’s top tier portfolios to 180.
She played a critical role in developing the Entrepreneurs Education Series, a curriculum designed to move “concept stage” entrepreneurs from idea through to angel funding. She also is the architect of the “ATDC @” program which delivers coaching and curriculum to ATDC Entrepreneurs across the state.
Bonnett has served as founder or chief technology officer of a number of venture- and angel-backed firms, acting as both lead architect and growing or managing their technology teams. She and her co-founders raised more than $46 million to fund three companies.
An ardent supporter of diversity in technology, she also is the founder of StartupChicks, a 501c3 focused on empowering women entrepreneurs through education, community, coaching, connections, and investment. StartupChicks has touched more than 10,000 women globally through its content and events.
Founded in 1980 by the Georgia General Assembly, which funds it each year, ATDC is one of the longest-running and largest research university-affiliated incubators in the United States. Since its inception, ATDC has fostered innovation and economic development and has graduated more than 170 companies, which, collectively, have raised more than $3 billion in outside financing n investment financing and generating more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia.