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.”

 

Applications now open for the 2019 Georgia Innovative Economic Development Internship Program

Graduate students have opportunity to further research in 10-week, paid summer internship at Georgia Tech.

 

Are you a graduate student attending a University System of Georgia school and interested in pursuing your own research opportunity that links science, technology, and innovation to economic development?

 

Supraja Sudharsan, a 2018 Georgia Innovative Economic Development Intern, is a doctoral candidate studying comparative urban governance in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.

Supraja Sudharsan, a 2018 Georgia Innovative Economic Development Intern, is a doctoral candidate studying comparative urban governance in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.

The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) program at Georgia Tech is now accepting applications for the 2019 Georgia Innovative Economic Development Internship Program. (For details and requirements, apply here: stip.gatech.edu/apply/).

 

The highly competitive, 10-week, paid internship is designed to allow graduate students to further develop and pursue research in an innovative economic development project. At the end of the internship period, interns, who will receive a $6,000 stipend, will have an opportunity to present their project findings to economic development and innovation groups.

 

Applications will be accepted through Feb. 28, 2019 and the internship is open to any graduate student who has completed the first year of a two-year master’s program or enrolled in a doctoral program at a public university in the University System of Georgia.

 

Those accepted into the program will be notified by the end of March 2019.

 

STIP is a globally recognized program that conducts research-based policy analyses and reports of innovation policy, science, and technology for organizations and governments domestically and internationally.

 

“Students can delve deeply into their research and apply that analysis and study to real-world challenges,” said Jan Youtie, STIP program director.

 

“This is an excellent opportunity for enterprising students who want to explore how their own ideas can have an impact on any number of subject areas ranging from strategic or emerging technologies and economic modeling, to research commercialization and sustainability.”

 

Mirit Friedman is pursuing her master’s degree in city and regional planning at Georgia Tech’s School of City & Regional Planning.

Mirit Friedman, a 2018 Georgia Innovative Economic Development Intern, is pursuing a master’s degree in city and regional planning at Georgia Tech’s School of City & Regional Planning.

Former interns, such as Mirit Friedman, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in city and regional planning at Georgia Tech’s School of City & Regional Planning, say the experience is a rewarding one.

 

Her research explored ways in which the Atlanta Community Food Bank could activate its vast partnership network in new ways to better support its clients’ economic mobility.

 

“I was able to explore my research interests under the guidance of economic development experts and restricting the research to the summer period forced me to focus on an initial research question I could test and explore in the short period,” Friedman said, adding the program’s pace and structure was invaluable.

 

“We had to develop our research substantially each week and being held to that pace of research development helped prepare me for the demanding deadlines the workforce expects,” she said. “Additionally, having my research be pushed in directions I hadn’t anticipated required me to respond to and explore new ideas that ultimately helped me hone in on a more explicit research topic.”

 

Supraja Sudharsan, a doctoral candidate studying comparative urban governance in Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, echoed Friedman’s sentiments.

 

“I evaluated the smart city projects that have been piloted, underway or completed in three cities in Atlanta, Austin, and Pittsburgh,” she said. “By comparatively studying their plans, initiatives, associated partnerships, and the organizational process involved in their development and implementation, the study served to look beyond the hype of smart cities to understand how cities develop and implement smart city projects.

 

“The program provided exposure to organizational processes within city government organizations and the challenge of effecting change, which is an area of interest in my doctoral research.”

 

About the Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy program

The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy program at Georgia Tech is an internationallyrecognized offering of the Georgia Institute of Technology that offers in-depth and critical research-based analyses of innovation policy, science, and technology to organizations and governments around the world. It is part of the Economic Development Lab at the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Tech’s economic development arm. Along with EI2, it is supported by the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy. Visit stip.gatech.edu to learn more.

Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center enters 33rd year of continuous service to Georgia businesses

Program helped Georgia-based firms win more than $14.1 billion in government contracts since 1986.

 

Department of Defense GTPAC

The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) regularly hosts events that bring together government buyers with Georgia-based businesses. On Jan. 14, 2019, GTPAC hosted a Defense Innovation Conference attended by 220 businesses, Defense Department officials, and major prime contractors.

February marks an important milestone for the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) as it enters its 33rd year of continuous operation in providing assistance to Georgia businesses that are pursuing government contracts.

 

Specifically, GTPAC helps businesses identify, compete for, and win contracts at all levels of government – federal, state, and local.

 

GTPAC is one of about a dozen programs – known as Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) – that were established shortly after Congress launched the initiative in 1985.  Today, there are 95 PTACs across the nation that serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

 

GTPAC’s continued operation is made possible through funds provided by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) along with state funding made available through Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).

 

GTPAC received a fully executed award document from the DLA on Jan. 24, 2019, ensuring that funding would be made available to the Georgia Institute of Technology for another year of PTAC operations in the state of Georgia.

 

GTPAC maintains staff in Albany, Atlanta, Gainesville, Carrollton, Savannah, and Warner Robins. Training also is conducted in Athens and Columbus as well as via online webinars. All businesses in Georgia are eligible to receive GTPAC’s services at no cost. The program provides Georgia businesses with counseling, training, and a complete set of electronic tools to research and identify government contracting opportunities.

 

“We are grateful for the confidence DLA places in us to carry out this program in Georgia,” says Program Manager Andrew Smith, “and we are very thankful for the support that Georgia Tech provides to the program.”

 

Since its inception in 1986, GTPAC has helped Georgia businesses win more than 100,000 contracts — both prime and subcontracts — worth more than $14.1 billion.

 

While tabulations for calendar year 2018 are not yet complete, preliminary reports show that GTPAC’s clients won at least 3,400 government prime contracts and subcontracts worth more than $1 billion.

 

GTPAC is widely recognized as a PTAC with one of the strongest track records in the nation.  Over the last decade, GTPAC helped Georgia businesses win between $500 million and $1 billion in government contracts, annually.

 

GTPAC counseled, instructed, and identified bid opportunities for 2,300 businesses across the state of Georgia in 2018. GTPAC also conducted 150 training workshops and participated in 31 events statewide where more than 3,000 businessmen and women received instruction on how to effectively compete for government contracts.

 

Among those clients is Glenn Singfield, a principal of Albany, Georgia-based Artesian Construction.

 

“GTPAC’s team consistently keeps us informed about what’s going on in the government marketplace,” Singfield said. “Through the program, we connected with another small business that we were able to partner with and, as a result, we’ve won several government contracts.”

 

Other clients, such as Michelle Thompson, group purchasing administrator for United Pharmacy Partners in Suwanee, Georgia, added GTPAC also helps by educating them on how to successfully get those contracts and connecting them with the resources to do so.

 

“I reach out at least once a month with a government contracting-related question,” Thompson said. “The GTPAC team always comes through with the answer or resources to find the answer.”

 

About Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC)

The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) helps Georgia enterprises identify, compete for, and win government contracts. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense, GTPAC’s services are available at no cost to any Georgia businesses that have an interest and potential to perform work — as a prime contractor or a subcontractor — for federal, state, or local government agencies. GTPAC is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s economic development arm. To learn more, visit gtpac.org.

Georgia Tech Hosts State Legislative Leaders at ATDC HealthTech Summit

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan ATDC

ATDC Assistant Director Jane McCracken (far left), explains how entrepreneurs use the incubator’s design studio to make and refine product prototypes, as Georgia state Sens. Greg Kirk and Dean Burke and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan listen. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

With health care a major focus at the state and national levels, the Georgia Institute of Technology welcomed Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and other state legislative leaders to campus for a health summit focused on how technology drives innovation, leads to better patient outcomes, and reduces costs.

 

Duncan, joined by Georgia state Sens. Dean Burke, Greg Kirk, and Ben Watson, toured the Institute’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to learn more about the incubator’s efforts to support health technology (HealthTech) innovation and meet startup leaders in its portfolio.

 

Burke spearheaded the visit from the state government delegation.

 

A program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Tech’s economic development arm, ATDC is the state of Georgia’s technology startup incubator. Created in 1980, ATDC has helped its companies generate more than $12 billion in revenue and raise in excess of $3 billion in investment capital.

 

“One of my most ambitious goals is for Georgia to become the technology capital of the East Coast. Incubators like ATDC are critical to that vision,” Duncan, a Tech alum, said. “Georgia boasts the top talent coming out of our world-class university system, business-friendly environment, low cost of living, high quality of life, and emerging venture capital presence necessary to grow from the Silicon Valley of the South to the Tech Capital of the East Coast.”

 

The delegation received an overview of ATDC’s focused efforts to support HealthTech innovation and startups, including the July 2018 launch of the ATDC HealthTech Program.

 

Supported with a financial gift from NASCO, the ATDC HealthTech Program is focused on helping entrepreneurs launch viable companies in that sector, Kirk Barnes, ATDC’s HealthTech catalyst explained to the delegation.

 

Separately, ATDC entered into a collaborative partnership with Navicent Health’s Center for Disruption & Innovation (CfDI) to support the development of new technologies, treatments, and care created by healthcare technology-oriented companies based in the state. The goal: to improve the health and lives of patients in central and south Georgia.

 

It’s a goal that resonated with Duncan.

 

“It’s encouraging to see the system built around these ideas and to see these ideas commercialized,” the lieutenant governor said. “It’s not just about cutting costs, it’s about improving service and quality of care.

 

“I’m appreciative of the impressive work being done at Georgia Tech and ATDC, and I look forward to working alongside them as Lt. Governor.”

 

Since its launch, the ATDC HealthTech Program’s portfolio of companies has grown to 48 and includes a host of technologies ranging from digital health and medical devices to drug discovery tools and healthcare robotics.

 

One of those companies, Rimidi Inc., a provider of software and clinical analytics for chronic disease management,raised more than $6.5 millionin its Series A-1 financing, which included an investment from Eli Lilly and Co.

 

Tee Faircloth, who helped spearhead the summit, is founder of Coordinated Care Inc. (CCI), an ATDC HealthTech company. CCI, one of the companies the delegation met, works with urban and rural hospitals to move patients back to their local hospitals for rehabilitation.

 

Faircloth said such summits give state leaders valuable insight into how public support of programs such as ATDC and public-private partnerships such as the one with NASCO work.

 

“With the incoming administration’s focus on rural healthcare, it’s great to see them embrace innovation as an agent of change so early on. This summit continues the dialogue of how we, as technology companies focused on bringing solutions and innovation to healthcare, can work with state and local leaders,” Faircloth said.

 

“We want to find areas where we can work together in these public-private partnerships to leverage the resources of the Atlanta and Georgia ecosystems so that we really improve healthcare for all Georgians.”

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership recruiting companies to participate in new energy management improvement program

Federal award supports targeted focus on energy management system implementation and improvements for manufacturers in six southern states.

 

Randy Green, GaMEP project manager in the Energy and Sustainability Group, performs an energy audit with one of his clients in Emanuel County in Georgia.

Randy Green, GaMEP project manager in the Energy and Sustainability Group, performs an energy audit with one of his clients in Emanuel County in Georgia.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech has launched a new program to help manufacturers boost their competitiveness by implementing energy management best practices in ISO 50001.

 

A 12-month effort, the Southeast MEP Energy Management Program is being funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

 

“The program aims to help companies in the Southeast accelerate their energy and cost savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by incorporating best practices as outlined by ISO 50001,” said Bill Meffert, the GaMEP’s group manager for energy and sustainability projects.

The ISO 50001 Energy Management System — an international standard in which the GaMEP had a role in developing when first drafted in 2011 and its 2018 revisions — provides business and industry with an energy performance improvement framework.

“That’s the focus of the ISO 50001 training and coaching. We’re assisting companies in their efforts to bring energy costs under control and make smart energy usage part of their daily processes,” Meffert said.

 

Participants in the Southeast MEP Energy Management Program will take a series of classes and webinar sessions, and receive on-site coaching over a 12-month period. Completing the program allows them to be certified by the U.S. Department of Energy as 50001 Ready by showing they’ve implemented the standard into their operations. They can also take an additional step to become certified, Meffert said.

The class for the first cohort launches in early 2019 and applications are being accepted at this link: https://gamep.org/southeast-energy-management-program/.

 

The federal grant covers most of the cost for the training, but participating companies will pay about 25 percent of that. As part of the grant, the GaMEP will partner with MEPs in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Texas. Those sister MEPs will find clients in those states to work with them to implement the ISO 50001 management system.

“For many companies, energy use is a critical component of their ability to maintain a competitive edge,” Meffert said.

 

A medium- to large-sized company with 250 employees or more could spend more than $1 million a year on energy, including electricity, natural gas, fuel, and water.

 

“What we see with the companies that we’ve worked with to adopt the ISO standard in the past is that they achieve energy performance improvements that go beyond the typical approaches,” he said. “Roughly 70 percent of the savings achieved are through operational controls and behavior change.”

 

Since the ISO standard’s adoption in 2011, the GaMEP has helped more than 70 facilities in North America to implement ISO 50001, with most becoming certified, including nine in the Southeast.

 

“This energy management system is applicable to a whole host of industries from textiles and floor coverings to food and beverage to automotive manufacturing,” Meffert said. “One of the reasons we sought to get more companies in the Southeast to adopt this energy standard is because we have such a strong manufacturing presence in all of these sectors.

 

“Incorporating these standards and changing processes for energy usage can really make a difference to the bottom line, while also helping companies meet their competitiveness and sustainability objectives,” Meffert said.

 

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 10 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, please visit gamep.org.

Engage Ventures launches Expert Council to help corporate partners address challenges; find solutions

Daley Ervin, Engage’s entrepreneur-in-residence

Daley Ervin is Engage Ventures’ entrepreneur-in-residence. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Engage Ventures has launched a roundtable series designed to get a deeper understanding and more insight into its corporate partners’ business challenges and connect them with potential solutions in its portfolio, as well as the Tech’s resources and capabilities.

 

The Engage Expert Council — comprised of corporate thought leaders and C suite-level information, cybersecurity, and information technology executives — aims to remove barriers by getting critical decision makers together to share best practices, identify emerging trends, and dissect business challenges.

 

Engage, launched in 2017, is a mentorship-driven accelerator and early-stage venture fund that targets high-tech startups from across the United States. Its core focus is on mentoring and creating go-to-market frameworks for its portfolio companies.

 

The $18 million Engage Ventures Fund I is supported by Engage’s corporate partners, which contributed $1.5 million each. The Expert Council is comprised of and open to executives of Engage’s 12 partners.

 

“Our corporate partners are in divergent industries ranging from retail, food, and logistics to finance, media, and energy. Even though they’re in different sectors, they’re facing some of the same challenges, in many cases,” said Daley Ervin, Engage’s entrepreneur-in-residence who conceived of the initiative. “This experts council effort will facilitate discussions where they can learn from each other’s experiences, allow us to better understand their needs, identify how our companies can solve their challenges, and be a conduit into Georgia Tech’s offerings.”

 

The first Engage Expert Council meeting was held Dec. 3 with a focus on cybersecurity. It featured Michael Farrell, co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP) as discussion moderator.

 

Michael Farrell, co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP).

Michael Farrell, co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP). (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“Cybersecurity is a top priority for companies regardless of industry, and Georgia Tech is a premier organization in this space,” Ervin said. “The IISP is at the forefront of cutting-edge research and innovation. I was excited to collaborate with Gloria Griessman, IISP’s director of commercialization and industry collaboration, to develop this initiative.”

 

Georgia Tech is home to 11 Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs) which are charged with bringing together a mix of researchers — spanning units all across campus – around one core research area. These IRIs also connect a large portfolio of basic and applied research programs, support world-class research facilities and laboratories, engage Georgia Tech students, and collaborate with government and industry research partners.

 

“The Institute for Information Security & Privacy is one of the largest and most unique research collectives in the nation for cybersecurity,” Farrell said. “Georgia Tech is world class in its depth and breadth in cybersecurity, and we apply these talents to society’s toughest challenges.

 

“Georgia Tech, including GTRI, has a long history of successful technology transfer to industry and government partners and the IISP is excited to offer this expertise I security and privacy to the Engage platform.”

 

IISP’s programs involve both hardware and software, span raw silicon to user interfaces, go from internationally published papers to classified programs, range in size from $300,000 to $30 million, and address aspects from information theory to user privacy to acquisition to international policy implications.

 

Farrell led a discussion on innovation and new technologies in the industry and how those changes could affect the business community.

 

Joining him in that discussion were:

 

  • Peter Swire, IISP’s associate director for policy and the Elizabeth & Tommy Holder Chair of Law and Ethics at Tech’s Scheller College of Business;
  • Sudheer Chavadirector of the Quantitative & Computational Finance Program and IISP’s associate director for risk management, and
  • Brendan Saltaformaggio, an assistant professor in Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Cyber Forensics Innovation (CyFI) Laboratory.

 

The Engage Expert Council is comprised of corporate thought leaders and C suite-level information, cybersecurity, and information technology executives. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Engage Expert Council is comprised of corporate thought leaders and C suite-level information, cybersecurity, and information technology executives. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Swire addressed how the European Union’s General Date Protection Regulation has created major challenges for global organizations, with new enforcement actions. Chava discussed cyberattacks, firm responses, and stock market reaction to these attacks.

 

Saltaformaggio explored emerging research in computer systems security and cyber forensics.

 

“The caliber of what Tech can provide to the corporate sector, in addition to our portfolio companies’ offerings, is what is driving this effort,” Daley said.

 

Engage plans nine more such council meetings in the coming year to focus on various topics including sustainability, robotics, and supply chain management.

 

Its fund partners include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Goldman Sachs Group, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., Tech Square Ventures, The Home Depot, and UPS.

 

Engage is part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s economic development arm.