STIP Selects Students for 2019 Georgia Innovative Economic Development Internship Program

The 2019 Class of Georgia Innovative Economic Development Internship Program students. From left: Karl Grindal, Ebney Ayaj Rana, STIP Program Director Jan Youtie, and Daniel Schiff. (Photos: Péralte C. Paul)

The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) program at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute has selected the three students who are the 2019 Georgia Innovative Economic Development interns.

 

The 10-week, paid internship — open to any graduate student attending a University System of Georgia school — gives interns the opportunity to develop and pursue deep research in an economic development-related project.

 

At the end of the internship period, the interns, who will each receive a $6,000 stipend, will be able to present their findings to economic development and innovation groups.

 

“We have three excellent interns who went through a rigorous selection process and vetting from three statewide economic developers who are experts in their fields and are highly respected in Georgia’s economic development community,” said Jan Youtie, STIP program director. “All three are working on topics that are important to Georgia’s economic development future. I think what we will get out these internship research efforts will be seminal for the future of Georgia and we will look back in 5 or 10 years and say we learned a lot from these projects that helped the state go forward.”

 

The 2019 Georgia Innovative Economic Development Interns are:

 

KARL GRINDAL: rising 4th year Ph.D., Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy

  • Research Topic: Analyzing breach notification reports that companies fill out when they need to notify the public that customer data has been accessed or hacked by connecting those reports to corporate and industry level data to help answer questions about which types of companies are being targeted and in which states over time.
  • Reason: “The goal of collecting this data is to help with risk assessment. I was inspired to look at this data because it relates directly to how intellectual property is being stolen or how customer data is being lost. That affects trust in Georgia companies, so by being able to measure the effects of hacking both here in the state of Georgia and around the country on corporations, and ultimately, customers, we can hopefully reduce that exposure and help build trust and protect American innovations.”

 

DANIEL SCHIFF: rising 3rd year Ph.D., Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy

  • Research Topic: Looking at artificial intelligence (AI) policy strategies and AI ethics codes/guidelines coming from corporations, governments, and other organizations.
  • Reason: “I want to see what the challenges are we face in Georgia and possible solutions to them. AI has become an important emergent technology in the last five years and that’s spurred a lot of interest in innovation as well as the social, legal, political, and ethical implications. People are starting to worry about and think about how we are to approach these new technologies moving forward.”

 

EBNEY AYAJ RANA: rising 2nd year master’s, Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

  • Research Topic: How high-tech entrepreneurship among immigrants is growing in the state of Georgia compared with the United States overall, and how fiscal policies and economic development incentives can be mobilized even more for the betterment and fostering of immigrant-owned enterprises in the state of Georgia.
  • Reason: “The immigrant-owned, high-tech entrepreneurial enterprises are increasingly growing in other states and they’re outperforming the native born-owned enterprises and industries. So maybe if provided with appropriate economic development policies and with incentives, maybe we can help foster the growth of immigrant-owned, high-tech enterprises in the state of Georgia.”

Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center to Host Minority Business Enterprises at Fourth Annual National MBE Manufacturers Summit August 11-13

Summit’s 2019 focus: Technologies driving “Intelligent Manufacturing Reality.”

 

Attendees of the 2018 National MBE Manufacturers Summit learn how the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute’s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility allows teams to incorporate academic, industrial and/or government expertise to develop, scale, and deploy next-generation technologies.

Robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality drive today’s advanced manufacturing businesses.

 

How can minority business enterprises (MBEs) in the manufacturing sector harness these technologies to grow, attract customers, and become more efficient?

 

Find out Aug. 11-13, 2019 at the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center’s fourth annual National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2019, the only event of its kind that caters to minority manufacturers. (REGISTER HERE)

 

The Summit gives leading MBE manufacturers the opportunity to assemble, build connections, and create new business opportunities. More than 600 attendees from 28 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and Canada have experienced the impact of participating in this national gathering of the manufacturing community.

 

Josh Ghaim, Johnson & Johnson’s CTO, is the Summit’s lunch keynote speaker.

Amir A. Ghannad, leadership development specialist and culture transformation catalyst of the Ghannad Group, will open the conference with a morning keynote.

Launched in 2016, the Summit offers educational workshops, one-on-one meetings with large corporations, showcases innovation, and brings visibility to MBE manufacturers.

 

This year’s theme, “Creating the NEXT: Intelligent Manufacturing Reality,” centers on robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and other systems that drive manufacturing.

 

“The National MBE Manufacturers Summit has grown tremendously these past three years as we strive to help minority business enterprises to scale and present the latest technologies,” said Donna Ennis, Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center director.

 

“As the must-attend event of the year for MBEs, the Summit is the opportunity for them to fully have an immersive experience in technology and innovation, network to expand, learn, and to do business with international conglomerates.”

 

Among this year’s event highlights:

  • Morning Keynote: Amir A. Ghannad, leadership development specialist and culture transformation catalyst of the Ghannad Group, will open the conference with a captivating discussion on transformative leadership and the use of innovation to transform and improve daily company processes.
  • Lunch Keynote: Josh Ghaim, Johnson & Johnson’s CTO, will give a thought-provoking conversation on innovation and how technology drives business.
  • TAG Innovation Pod Showcase:Powered by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), the Showcase consists of 16 to 20 companies highlighting leading technologies designed to transform manufacturing processes and improve production.
  • Summit Fast Pitch 1-on-1: Ingersoll Rand, Siemens, BMW Group, WestRock, Coca-Cola Co., and other large corporations return for one-on-one meetings where MBEs give a15-minute pitch on how they can help these multinational firms solve corporate challenges.
  • Technology Innovation Experience: See the latest technologies in manufacturing at the Plant Manufacturing Technology Tour of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.

 

The opportunities afforded to attendees have been invaluable,” said Joe Lewis, CEO of Flentek Solutions, an Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center client and past Summit participant. “All these people in one place, one meeting, I am able to build connections with all of them at one time.”

 

James Thornton, Siemens Mobility’s’ head of procurement, echoed those sentiments. “The Summit’s fast pitch one-on-one meetings allow Siemens Mobility to meet with potential suppliers, attendees, subject matter experts and discover their capabilities,” he said. “We get to share our culture and pain points while building future partnerships.”

 

About the Atlanta MBDA Centers

As part of a national network of 42 centers, the Atlanta MBDA Centers help minority business enterprises (MBEs) access capital, increase profitability, scale and grow their businesses. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Atlanta MBDA Business Center and Advanced Manufacturing Center are part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development. To learn more, please visit mbdabusinesscenter-atlanta.org.

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership taps Wendy White to Lead Statewide Efforts in Food Safety Program

Wendy White headshot

Wendy White is a food safety project manager for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Wendy White, a nationally known food safety expert, has joined the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) as a food safety project manager.

 

In that capacity, she will provide educational outreach and support to help Georgia food manufacturers improve their food safety and quality systems.

 

Prior to joining the GaMEP, White was director of corporate food safety and quality at Golden State Foods, a food manufacturer and distributor in the industry with more than 35 sites around the world.

 

“I will work to help Georgia food manufacturers comply with government regulations for food safety and to be in compliance with those rules to avoid heavy fines, delays, and shutdowns,” White said.

 

She also will lead GaMEP’s new Food Safety Cohort Program, helping companies achieve compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA,) through a series of six 1-day group training sessions and additional one-on-one coaching sessions.

 

“Wendy brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise which will be especially critical for our small- to medium-sized food manufacturers in Georgia,” said GaMEP Associate Director Tim Israel.

 

Many large companies have the resources to devote strictly to their compliance activities, but our small companies, don’t always have that, he said.

 

“Through her efforts, Wendy will help those smaller Georgia food manufacturers develop and expand robust compliance activities so that they’re sustainable over the long term as well as, easy to understand and implement into their operations,” Israel said.

 

Georgia is among the nation’s leading agriculture states and the industry accounts for nearly $75 billion of the state’s economy each year.

 

Food manufacturing, or food processing, is a related and growing segment of the Georgia economy. This sector, which includes 69,000 jobs across Georgia, generates $11 billion to $12 billion each year in total output.

 

White has overseen food safety operations at multiple facilities where she implemented Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans and related quality programs.

 

Her experience also includes overseeing internal audits, implementing corporate programs, ensuring regulatory compliance, elevating food safety culture, and supporting global supply chain management. She successfully implemented multiple Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI) Certification Programs and is on the editorial board of Food Safety Magazine.

 

White is also a highly sought-after speaker at food safety conferences and is very involved in the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP). She’s held multiple leadership positions, and currently serves as vice chair of the Meat and Poultry PDG and sits on its Foundation Committee.  White is past president of the Georgia Association of Food Protection (GAFP) and currently is an IAFP board delegate.

 

She received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in food science from the University of Georgia.

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP): 

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in nine regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top line growth and reduce bottom line cost. For more information, visit: gamep.org.

Georgia Institute of Technology to assist University of South Africa in economic development effort

 

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is collaborating with the Georgia Institute of Technology to foster an innovation-focused, university-based economic development ecosystem is South Africa.

 

The agreement — solidified April 26, 2019 — calls for Tech’s assistance and guidance in the creation of an innovation ecosystem to support student entrepreneurship, curricular and extra-curricular programs, and faculty and student venture creation, as well as programs that small business development opportunities and industry engagement in South Africa. While South Africa is Africa’s second-wealthiest nation as ranked by gross domestic product, the country has an unemployment rate of 25 percent, one of the highest in the world.

 

“With this partnership, I am convinced that current and future generations will look back and say this was an intervention that turned the course of our university and communities through enterprise innovation,” said M.S. Makhanya, UNISA principal and vice chancellor at the . “This inspires us because we are very clear about the future we are building together.”

 

The effort comes after a delegation of UNISA educators spent two weeks in Atlanta to study Georgia Tech’s economic development group, the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).

 

Comprised of a dozen programs, EIis the largest university-based economic development organization of its kind in the United States.

 

While on campus, the South African delegates met with various EIprograms, including the Advanced Technology Development Center, Georgia’s technology incubator, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which works with manufacturers to innovate, increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line costs, and Innovation Corps., which prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and foster entrepreneurship. They also met with Georgia Tech’s Office of Industry Collaboration, and visited other economic development-oriented entities, including Georgia State University.

 

Leading the two-week immersion effort was EI2‘s Innovation Ecosystems program, which works with domestic and international communities, universities, and organizations to help them develop and implement entrepreneurship and business incubation programs, as well as ecosystem analysis, among other services. Innovation Ecosystems has done projects in the majority of Georgia’s 159 counties and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, as well as Peru, France, Algeria, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), an organization comprised of 21 countries that are mostly in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

“We have a three-pronged approach with this collaborative effort, ” said Juli Golemi, Innovation Ecosystems’ senior project manager. ” Our focus is to work with them to help them set up and build an innovation-centered ecosystem — one that’s built around students, faculty, and communities. The long-term goal is for that ecosystem to support and further expand sustainable innovation and economic growth.”

 

The project supports Georgia Tech’s overall mission and reflect’s its motto of progress and service, said Leslie Sharp, the Institute’s associate vice provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development. Sharp represented the Institute at the signing ceremony between the two schools.

“This partnership is symbolic of our motto and our commitment to being the technological university of the  21st century,” Sharp said. “This underscores the history of Georgia Tech and city of Atlanta. We can progress together.”

VentureLab works to commercialize liquid cooling system technology developed at Georgia Tech

Daniel Lorenzini prepares to test a microchip as part of his liquid cooling system technology he developed at Georgia Tech. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Daniel Lorenzini prepares to test a microchip as part of the liquid cooling system technology he developed at Georgia Tech. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

In the online world of computer gaming, overclocking is a common practice by which hyper-competitive gamers look to push as much processing power as possible for the slightest advantage and edge to win and enjoy the games they play.

 

Running these gaming systems’ graphics or central processing units at rates faster than they were designed for allows for higher performance, including rendering at higher frames per second with higher resolutions and texture details. But it also creates a lot more heat and that requires more cooling and care of those key microlectronic components.

 

But Daniel Lorenzini has developed a liquid cooling system — on a micro scale — that allows for the microchips to be overclocked, or perform more operations per second, but at cooler temperatures than commercial thermal control hardware.

 

Yogendra Joshi (left) and Daniel Lorenzini stand in Joshi's lab heat transfer, combustion and energy systems lab in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Yogendra Joshi (left) and Daniel Lorenzini stand in Joshi’s heat transfer, combustion, and energy systems lab in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Lorenzini developed and refined the technology in the lab of Yogendra Joshi at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.

 

Under conventional liquid cooling methods, microchips are cooled by passing coolant liquids through a block over the chips’ casings, which include a metal lid called an integrated heat spreader (IHS) and a thermal interface material (TIM), which is a gel-like substance. Those components lead to heat resistance and therefore limit the system performance due to thermal throttling.

 

But the liquid cooling system designed by Lorenzini, who is slated to receive his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Tech on May 3, 2019, allows for microchips to be cooled directly.

 

“I’ve been looking at more direct or microfluidic cooling to the chips and by doing this, we are able to remove more heat,” he said.

 

“It’s much more efficient and allows us to remove up to five times the power than that of conventional technologies,” Lorenzini added, “because you can increase the voltage to the processors so it’s faster and stable, while running at a higher frequencies.”

 

Daniel Lorenzini (left), founder of EMCOOL, shows Jonathan Goldman, a principal in Georgia Tech's VentureLab program, his entrepreneurship award he received from the Mexican government for his work in co-founding a startup in that country. (Péralte C. Paul)

Daniel Lorenzini (left), founder of EMCOOL, shows Jonathan Goldman, a principal in Georgia Tech’s VentureLab program, the entrepreneurship award he received from the Mexican government for his work in co-founding a startup in that country. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

With the help of VentureLab, the Georgia Tech program that works with Institute faculty and students to commercialize their research, Lorenzini is forming EMCOOL, as the company being organized around the technology will be called.

 

The breakthrough could be a significant one for the gaming industry, the first sector Lorenzini identified as being ready-made for his micro cooling system.

 

But it has potential for other industries, said Jonathan Goldman, a VentureLab principal, whoevaluates Tech-derived intellectual property and research for viability as commercialized and fundable technology startups.

 

“What he’s done is a disruptive improvement to the challenge of cooling these chips,” Goldman said, adding the technology has use in other high-performance computing applications such as data science, media, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

 

Through VentureLab and his work with Goldman, Lorenzini was able to secure a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) in 2018 and the EMCOOL team participated in a six-week customer discovery boot camp to further define customer segments.

 

That was followed by another $50,000 grant — with VentureLab’s assistance — from the Georgia Research Alliance for prototype development.

 

Daniel Lorenzini (left) poses for photos with former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2018 after being awarded the Entrepreneurial Ingenuity Award from the Mexican government. (Special)

Daniel Lorenzini (left) poses for photos with former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2018 after being awarded the Entrepreneurial Ingenuity Award from the Mexican government. (Special)

And in the first quarter of 2019, Lorenzini raised $100,000 in an angel round from investors in his native Mexico. Those funds will be received once EMCOOL is formally incorporated, which is expected in June.

 

The Mexican government awarded Lorenzini with its Entrepreneurial Ingenuity Award in 2018 for his work as co-founder of Cooling Tree Systems, one of the first companies in Latin America to commercialize liquid cooling systems when such approaches began to replace air cooling solutions in the market.

 

EMCOOL, which already has a provisional patent on the technology Lorenzini developed at Georgia Tech, expects to formally incorporate in May.

 

“We’re guiding them through this process and getting them getting them ready to incorporate and assemble and sell their first systems,” Goldman said. “We expect to have those commercially available by this fall.”

Chris Downing, vice president and director of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, announces retirement

Chris Downing, vice president and director of Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Chris Downing is vice president and director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Chris Downing, who has led the Georgia Institute of Technology’s economic development efforts as vice president and director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), is retiring after 31 years of service.

 

Downing, who has led EI2 since 2016, leaves behind a decades-long legacy of leadership experience at Georgia Tech in technology-based economic development, university outreach and technical assistance, entrepreneurship and start-up support, and program management.

 

His retirement is effective June 1, 2019.

 

“I feel very fortunate for such a diverse and challenging career and to have shared so many good years with the Georgia Tech family, and I am very appreciative of the many faculty, staff, and students who have made my time at Georgia Tech so interesting and inspiring,” Downing said. “Although I am leaving my full-time duties, I look forward to staying connected to Georgia Tech and supporting its mission of progress and service.”

 

After leaving IBM where he was a mechanical facilities engineer, Downing joined Georgia Tech in 1988 as a senior research engineer with the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

 

In 1996, he joined EI2 — then called the Economic Development Institute (EDI) — as the Griffin regional office manager and provided industrial extension and economic development services to the south metro Atlanta region.

 

Two years later, he was named group manager of technology services for the Economic Development Institute, where he was charged with overall management of technology deployment and information technology services to more than 200 EDI staff and associates located both on campus and in 12 regional offices across the state. In addition, this group provided technical research services for EDI clients in industry, business, and community economic development organizations.

 

In 2005, he was tapped to lead EI2’s Industry Services group, which included several key outreach programs: the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), the Energy and Environmental Management Center, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC), the Southeast Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SETAAC), and the Georgia Tech Regional Office Network.

 

Downing was named EI2’s associate vice president in 2013 and vice president in 2016.

 

In that time, he spearheaded the three-fold expansion of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and created the Venture Center space that has helped to attract several Fortune 100 corporate innovation centers to Technology Square.

 

His technology-based economic development efforts helped Georgia Tech and the EI2 win the prestigious “2014 Innovation Award” from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the “2014 Outstanding Research Park Award” from the Association of Research Parks.

 

Most recently, Downing led the feasibility study for the expansion of Georgia Tech’s second research park, Technology Enterprise Park, into a broader life sciences and technology innovation district.

 

“Chris has been a tireless champion and supporter of our economic development initiatives, working to maintain strong partnerships across the state while creating new collaborations,” said Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson. “We appreciate his leadership role as Georgia Tech partners with the state to strengthen Georgia’s economy.”

 

Downing is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering.

Georgia Tech Taking Applications for Spring 2019 Cohort of International Companies Seeking to do Business in Georgia

10-week Soft Landings Program helps companies understand U.S. market.

 

Matthew Tebeau (right) is chief operating officer of Proteon Pharmaceuticals in ?ód?, Poland, and a 2018 Soft Landings participant.

Matthew Tebeau (right), chief operating officer of Proteon Pharmaceuticals in Lodz, Poland, makes a point about questions foreign companies have when considering expansion into the United States at the Fall 2018 Soft Landings Immersion Week in Atlanta. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Soft Landings Program is now accepting applications for the spring cohort, which helps foreign companies that want to establish or increase their business operations in Georgia better understand the U.S. economy.

 

The Soft Landings Program at Georgia Tech, a 10-week, webinar-based training and education initiative, helps companies quickly and efficiently assess multiple key factors to assist them in deciding if expansion in the U.S. makes sense, and if so, how.

 

The program is offered in the spring and the fall in an online, cohort-based model, but participants come to Atlanta for one week of intensive training and immersion.

 

The spring cohort begins May 16, 2019. Enrollment is open until May 2, 2019. (APPLY HERE)

 

“Georgia is very welcoming to business and foreign investment, but we found there wasn’t a blueprint for companies from other countries that shows them all the things they need to consider in making that decision,” said Lynne Henkiel, director of Innovation Ecosystems.

 

An offering of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, Innovation Ecosystems works with communities and organizations to analyze and apply innovation-based ideas that drive economic development.

 

“Our Soft Landings Program is that guide, it leverages our education, government, and business relationships, and taps into our economic development resources, for companies to make an informed decision about expansion into the United States,” Henkiel said.

 

Among what participants will learn or receive:

 

  • Training in Lean Startup Methodology/Customer Validation techniques.
  • Access to a network of experts in various fields, from accounting to law.

TheSoft Landings structure and training were invaluable for 2018 participant Matthew Tebeau, chief operating officer of Proteon Pharmaceuticals. The Lodz, Poland-based company is focused on eliminating the unnecessary use of antibiotics in livestock farming — but improve farm performance and sustainability — via the introduction of a natural class of anti-bacterials.

 

“You spend time in the webinar portion preparing and working at your own pace with your team, according to the program. When you come here for the final week, you’re extremely well prepared to take advantage of the opportunities of meeting face to face with the business community,” he said.

 

“The immersion week is a great opportunity to get a sense of how business is done in the U.S. in your particular sector. But you also see Atlanta, which is this amazing, friendly open business community — I think it’s even unique in the United States.”

 

The Soft Landings initiative follows the International Business Innovation Association’s (InBIA) 2017 designation of Georgia Tech as a site. The designation recognizes entrepreneurship centers that excel in providing international companies with various services to ensure a smooth landing in the United States.

 

With the Soft Landings program, Georgia Tech is working with its state and local economic development partners: the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Invest Atlanta, and the city of Atlanta’s Office of International Affairs.

 

About Innovation Ecosystems

Innovation Ecosystems is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s economic development arm. Utilizing lean innovation ecosystems building, technology extension, and development programming, Innovation Ecosystems collaborates with communities and organizations domestically and abroad to help them create entrepreneurship and business incubation frameworks to promote sustainable economic development and growth. For more information, visit grow.gatech.edu.

Enterprise Innovation Institute Hosts Visit from French Embassy for Workforce and Economic Development Discussion

Christophe Bonneau (right), deputy economic counselor of business affairs for the Embassy of France to the United States, discusses his group’s desire to better understand how universities and the private sector collaborate to support workforce and economic development, as Jérôme Vouland (left), the embassy’s counselor for transportation and sustainable cities, listens. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) recently hosted three representatives from the Embassy of France who visited the Georgia Institute of Technology campus as part of a multi-state tour to better understand how universities interconnect with the private sector to support workforce and economic development.

 

EI2, comprised of a dozen programs, is Georgia Tech’s economic development arm. Through those programs, it supports commercialization of campus research and technology entrepreneurs, as well as industry and communities through business development extension services.

 

“It’s very important for us to understand the common challenges between France and the United states,” Christophe Bonneau, deputy economic counselor for business affairs at the Washington, D.C.-based embassy, said during the March 15 visit.

 

“One of them is filling the gap between what academic institutions have to bring in terms of training, in terms of skills, and the ever-evolving needs of companies, including manufacturing and technology.”

 

Georgia and France trade more than $3 billion in goods and services a year. That includes more than $592 million in Georgia exports to France each year, according to Georgia Department of Economic Development figures.

 

Georgia Tech and France have deep ties. Georgia Tech-Lorraine was established in 1990 in the eastern French city of Metz. The year-round campus — home to 600 each year — offers programs that create synergies between academics, research, and innovation. And since 2010, the Consulate General of France in Atlanta and Georgia Tech have collaborated together to present a multidisciplinary series of events each fall centered on innovation and designed to foster French-American cooperation and synergetic exchange in the Southeast.

 

The Institute also has strong ties with the southern French city of Toulouse with initiatives in aerospace and bioengineering, and the annual Startup Exchange, where startups from Atlanta go to Toulouse and vice versa to better understand international opportunities.

 

(From left) Melissa Heffner, VentureLab program manager, Chris Downing, EI2 vice president and director, and Lynne Henkiel, director of Innovation Ecosystems, listen as officials from the Embassy of France to the United States ask questions about Georgia Tech’s work with private industry to drive economic and workforce development. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The French delegates learned how different EI2programs, such as the Economic Development Lab (EDL), work with communities to drive innovation at the local and regional level. For example, they learned about EDL’s Soft Landings Program, which helps foreign companies seeking to establish themselves in the United States understand how to do that and the different factors they need to consider before making that decision.

 

They also gained insight into other efforts, including VentureLab and I-Corps South, which help foster commercialization of research beyond campus labs at Georgia Tech and universities across the Southeast, respectively.

 

And, as part of their visit, they toured the Institute’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to better understand how the state supports technology entrepreneurs who want to create scalable and viable companies in Georgia.

 

“Georgia Tech has had a really long history in — and was founded to spur economic development in Georgia,” said Chris Downing, EI2vice president and director. “We do have a lot of programs that serve different needs and customer sectors, but they all highlight what Georgia Tech is doing directly to have some influence in the economic viability and sustainability of the region.”

 

Bonneau and his team were particularly interested in Georgia because of the state’s urban and rural makeup.

 

“There is the urban-rural divide that we are facing to a certain extent in France and it’s interesting to see how Atlanta is driving not only wealth, but innovation training, better skills for people, and what’s important is how it connects to the rest of Georgia and the rest of the southeastern United States,” Bonneau said.

 

“We thought Georgia Tech was very interesting in how it connects with other incubators in the region, how it manages to bring companies and connect the with the local ecosystem, how it helps manufacturing plants, attracts research and development centers, and to that extent it’s been a great inspiration for us.”

Georgia Tech hosts Congressional visit for FinTech discussion at ATDC

U.S. Rep. French Hill (right) discusses the goals Congressional FinTech Task Force he sits on as Andrew Bate, CEO of SafelyStay, an ATDC FinTech portfolio company, listens.

U.S. Rep. French Hill (right) discusses the goals of the Congressional FinTech Task Force he sits on as Andrew Bate, CEO of SafelyStay, an ATDC FinTech portfolio company, listens. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) recently hosted U.S. Rep. French Hill, who came to campus as part of a multi-city tour to learn about the incubator’s innovation efforts in financial technology.

 

Hill, an Arkansas Republican whose district includes the Little Rock area, spent more than 20 years in commercial and investment banking. He founded the Little, Rock-based Delta Trust & Banking Corp. where he served as chairman, and CEO.

 

A member of the House Financial Services Committee, Hill, who served under President George H.W. Bush as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Corporate Finance, is a leading voice in the financial services industry.

 

“We’re going to create a new task force on FinTech in the House Financial Services Committee and are taking ideas from around the country to help drive legislative policy,” Hill said during his Feb. 16 visit where he met ATDC Director John Avery and founders of two of the incubator’s FinTech companies.

 

As part of his work on that task force, Hill wanted to see the innovation ecosystem that has been built around FinTech, ATDC’s role in collaborating with related business and industry to support it, and how the incubator works with companies in that sector to help them grow and succeed.

 

Georgia was an important stop for the Congressman’s fact-finding tour as 70 percent of all credit, debit, and gift card swipes — more than 118 billion transactions and $2 trillion in purchase volume each year — are processed through Georgia companies. More than 60 percent of all payment processing companies are either based in or have operations in the state.

 

ATDC’s FinTech program, launched in 2015, has 35 early-stage startups in its portfolio. Since inception, companies and recent graduates of ATDC’s FinTech program have raised more than $65 million in angel and institutional venture capital.

 

That success and impact factored in Hill’s visit as the Congressman’s tour also is designed to get input from FinTech companies and incubators regarding issues that can be a drag on FinTech innovation.

 

Entrepreneurs, Avery said, are concerned with regulations at the federal level, which sometimes conflict with one another and the uncertainty that creates for fledgling startups. What’s more, state statutes can vary, leading to additional challenges for growth.

 

“This is what I want to use this FinTech task force for, to work through some of these things,” Hill said, adding he wants to build a priorities list that the FinTech companies want Congress to focus on as well as emerging trends and innovations that leaders should be aware of in the industry.

 

Along with that, Hill is seeking input from FinTech leaders about specific issues that need further analysis and study via hearings and how Atlanta could play a role in that.

 

“Georgia Tech’s engagement in the startup ecosystem and Atlanta’s preeminence in payments I think is a good place to do this kind of convening.”

 

Georgia Tech works with Irish researchers on innovation methodologies

Melissa Heffner, I-Corps South program manager, leads a discussion on evidence-based entrepreneurship at the Science Foundation Ireland in Dublin. (Photo: Keith McGreggor)

Melissa Heffner, I-Corps South program manager, leads a discussion on evidence-based entrepreneurship at the Science Foundation Ireland in Dublin. (Photo: Keith McGreggor)

Wanting to tap into the Georgia Institute of Technology’s expertise in innovation and commercialization processes and methodology, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) recently hosted two lead managers of Tech’s I-Corps program lead managers in Dublin to train a group of research teams developing technologies with a focus on societal impact.

 

SFI invited Keith McGreggor and Melissa Heffner to lead the Jan. 29 workshop series as part of the organization’s Future Innovator Prize project, which is aimed at supporting the development of disruptive ideas and technologies to address societal challenges.

 

The 12 teams were focused on various projects ranging from biomedical devices to diagnostics and all had ideas for a product that could address a particular challenge or process that could be improved.

 

“We were invited to come over to because of our experience as a leading institution in teaching the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program,” Heffner said. “They wanted us to explain and discuss how to develop a business model and how we do customer discovery and how that process is critical to objectively seeing what kind of societal impact these SFI teams could have with their projects and research theses.”

 

The NSF’s I-Corps program — a boot camp that shows what it’s like to form a startup — helps NSF-funded researchers learn how to commercialize their findings and determine if a market actually exists for what they developed.

 

“Our work in Ireland was focused on preparing these team to have the conversations and interviews with potential customers to determine if the problem they feel exists actually does and how they can solve that challenge,” Heffner said.

 

“Identifying what you think is a problem is only one part of the equation. But researchers need to go out and talk to potential customers and users to understand if what they see as a challenge truly exists the way they think it does and how their proposed solutions should ultimately be designed to provide the greatest degree of societal impact.”

 

Heffner worked on a similar project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016.

 

Georgia Tech — through its VentureLab incubator program — is an I-Corps node and teaches entrepreneurship, and research and innovation methodologies.

 

Because of its long experience with forming companies from university research, Georgia Tech — through its VentureLab incubator — was selected in 2012 to be among the first institutions to become “nodes” teaching the I-Corps curriculum.

 

VentureLab is Tech’s technology commercialization incubator that primarily serves Tech faculty, staff, and students who seek to launch startup companies from the technology innovations they have developed.

 

McGreggor serves as VentureLab’s director and is executive director of I-Corps South, whichincludes Tech, the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Haslam College of Business.

 

In the last several years, SFI has sent a few teams to Tech for I-Corps training and Tech has led similar sessions for the Centers for Disease Control. The government of Mexico in 2018, through its National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT), sent more than a dozen university-based instructors to Tech to learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and how to build and maintain such programs at their schools.

 

The effort in Ireland underscores the Institute’s international reputation for commercialization expertise and supports its efforts to further its reach in Europe, McGreggor said.

 

“We want to leverage our presence in Europe with our Georgia Tech Lorraine campus in Metz, France, to do more entrepreneurship education across the continent,” McGreggor said. “Our work in Ireland and our relationship with SFI is a good example of our global impact and reach in our I-Corps programming and our evidence-based entrepreneurship. They want to work with us because of our strength in it.”