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.”

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.”

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 welcomes Bahamas delegation

Sidney S. Collie (left), the Bahamas' ambassador to the United States, makes point about the country's Tech Hub efforts during a visit to the Georgia Tech campus, Thursday, Oct. 25. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Sidney S. Collie (left), the Bahamas’ ambassador to the United States, makes point about the country’s Tech Hub efforts during a visit to the Georgia Tech campus, Thursday, Oct. 25. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Bahamas is embarking on a plan designed to attract more investment to the country and foster entrepreneurship.

 

A delegation from the Caribbean nation, which included Sidney S. Collie, the Bahamas’ ambassador to the United States, is visiting the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) Oct. 25 and 26 to learn about the Institute’s economic development programming model and components of a successful innovation ecosystem.

 

EI2, comprised of a dozen programs, is the Institute’s economic development arm and its offerings include services in community and business development, entrepreneurship, and commercialization.

 

While on campus, the delegation, which also will meet with President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, met with Chris Downing, EI2vice president and director, who gave the group an overview of Georgia Tech’s economic development mission and how specific programs could help the Bahamian efforts.

 

David Bridges is director of  the Economic Development Lab at Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Photo: Péralte C.. Paul)

David Bridges is director of the Economic Development Lab at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Photo: Péralte C.. Paul)

David Bridges, director of EI2’s Economic Development Lab (EDL), discussed his group’s work in Puerto Rico. EDL helps communities and organizations adopt innovation-led economic development practices through community strategic planning, fiscal and economic impact analyses, innovation ecosystem development, technology extension services, soft landing programs, and innovation policy research.

 

EDL, which has led 72 projects across 16 countries worldwide, has done extensive work in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. It’s work on the Caribbean island has led to Puerto Rico receiving more than $11 million in investments and initiatives being infused into the ecosystem there.

 

Delegates also toured the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the Institute’s statewide technology incubator, to learn how it help entrepreneurs across the state.

 

Astra Armbrister-Rolle (left), the Bahamas’ consul general in Atlanta and Sidney S. Collie, the Bahamas’ ambassador to the United States, listen as Georgia Tech economic development leaders discuss how the Institute partners with governments to build innovation ecosystems. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Astra Armbrister-Rolle (left), the Bahamas’ consul general in Atlanta and Sidney S. Collie, the Bahamas’ ambassador to the United States, listen as Georgia Tech economic development leaders discuss how the Institute partners with governments to build innovation ecosystems. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“Georgia Tech has garnered a reputation for being the big dog in technology, innovation, and accelerator programs,” said Astra Armbrister-Rolle, the Bahamas’ consul general in Atlanta. “You’re the best at it and we want to learn from the people who are on the cutting edge of these types of developments.”

 

Tech Hub, as the Bahamian initiative is called, is focused on the island of Grand Bahama and the plan to make it the country’s innovation center, Armbrister-Rolle said.

 

“It’s truly utilizing the space, the intellectual capital, and all the resources that we have there on that island to attract investors to set up businesses and also create an island that is tech-friendly as far as innovation and drive the government mandate of creating more entrepreneurs of Bahamians,” she said.

 

“The government has done some things to lay the infrastructure of what we believe will be an excellent and long-term program, at the same time, we’re reaching out internationally to partners like Georgia Tech and other universities to make it happen.”

Georgia Tech hosts Argentina IT delegation

(From left) Mary Waters, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Argentina Consul General Jorge Luis Lopez Menardi; Fernanda Yanson of the Argentina Investment and International Trade Agency, and Juli Golemi, manager of Georgia Tech’s Soft Landings Program. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the Georgia Institute of Technology’s the economic development arm, hosted a delegation of 12 technology companies from Argentina, as part of a multi-city tour to study successful innovation ecosystems.

 

The 2018 Argentina IT Commercial Mission to Atlanta’s Sept. 18 visit, sponsored by the Consulate General of Argentina and the Argentine American Chamber of Commerce, is designed to give insight into the Atlanta economy and as part of the 12 companies’ longer-term goal of establishing U.S. operations, said Argentina Consul General Jorge Luis Lopez Menardi.

 

“They’re looking for places to come and explore the possibilities of doing business,” Lopez Menardi said. “We thought the best place for them to come especially regarding an IT  mission would be to come to Georgia Tech. The prestige of the university, the talent and the innovation they are promoting from here, we decided the best place to hold the mission would be here.”

 

While on campus, the group met with Juli Golemi, manager of the Soft Landings Program at EI2.

 

Juli Golemi, Georgia Tech’s Soft Landings Program manager, addresses some of the issues foreign companies wanting to do business in the United States face. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Soft Landings, launched in 2018, is a Georgia Tech offering — through its Economic Development Lab (EDL) — that helps foreign companies that want to establish or increase their business operations in Georgia or better understand the U.S. economy. EDL helps communities and organizations apply innovative ideas to economic development in business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.

 

Soft Landings, Lopez Menardi said, offers what the visiting companies need as they explore doing business in Atlanta and the United States. The group, which includes companies in financial technology, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and gaming, wants to “get to know the environment, how to do business here, and how companies procure here,” Lopez Menardi said, adding they will use what they learn on this fact-finding trip to better prepare them for possible U.S. expansion and connections with American companies.

 

“They will want to build top from that and come up again with a specific plan of business to offer different companies,” he said, adding the group, which will visit Tech’s incubator, the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), will also visit Chicago to learn about its innovation ecosystem.

 

In a panel discussion that included Mary Waters, deputy commissioner of international trade at the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Fernanda Yanson, a foreign trade consultant with the Argentina Investment and International Trade Agency; Lopez Menardi, and Golemi, attendees learned about the different components of Georgia’s successful ecosystem.

 

Among those components: strong public and private partnerships between state government and industry, a friendly business climate, inter-state agency collaboration, unique assets such as Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and economic diversification, Waters said.

 

Georgia Department of Economic Development Deputy Commissioner Mary Waters explains why Georgia’s focus on innovation is factors into the state being consistently ranked as one of the best places in which to do business. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“Georgia’s economy is very diverse. We’re strong in agribusiness, we’re strong in aerospace, logistics, medical technologies, ICT, and automotive,” she said.

 

Underscoring that success model is technology, Waters said, noting the construction boom in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood and how Georgia Tech plays a critical role in that innovation-driven growth and expansion.

 

“Home Depot, Anthem, Delta Air Lines, Mercedes-Benz — they’re all creating innovation certners here in Atlanta and here in Georgia to take advantage of the Georgia Tech talent that we have. Those are companies and expansions that were not on our radar 10 years ago that now underpin the heart and soul of the Atlanta economy and Georgia’s economy,” Waters said.

 

“Whether you’re talking about automation technology in the manufacturing space or whether you’re talking about tech in agriculture and agribusiness, or innovation in the development of new technologies that will change the world, Georgia is very much in the heart of that and it gets to the heart of what you’re going to hear from Juli and the rest of Georgia Tech and from the private companies you will meet.”

Georgia Tech Soft Landings Program accepting applications from foreign companies

Brandy Nagel

Innovation Ecosystems’ program manager Brandy Nagel, left, explains the various components of the business and customer relationship to a group of entrepreneurs.

Expanding a business is always an exciting endeavor. It is also a risky proposition, one full of questions, assumptions, and unknowns. While a company may have mastered the manufacturing of a product or service, its marketing, and distribution, that mastery correlates to a particular customer profile within a specific market.

 

The target customer in a new market may look the same, but may think differently and have different expectations about how something is purchased or distributed. In addition, expanding into a new country brings additional challenges, such as regulations that could be different. These unknowns make the expansion a risky, lengthy and costly process.

 

The Georgia Tech Soft Landings Program is designed for those foreign companies looking to come to the United States to reduce the risk of expansion into a new market by maximizing a company’s use of time and resources. (Applications are now open.)

 

Companies take different approaches to solve this issue. They may pay a consulting firm for a market research study. This may be an in-depth study from a statistical point of view, mixed with focus groups results and surveys. While these studies can provide great information, they do not develop skills or personal connections in the entrepreneur or company. Another approach involves sending a company representative to the new target country. This learning approach provides valuable direct contact with the clients and other partners. However, these trips tend to be lone missions without a clear path. This lack of structure usually slows the process down significantly and may not result in the desired outcome.

 

The Soft Landings program will build capacity in the participating entrepreneurs by providing a structured and systematic approach to exploring the potential expansion to the U.S. market. The Soft Landings program will educate entrepreneurs and company representatives in legal, operational, and other important requirements for operating in the U.S. It will also provide mentorship, guidance, and accountability as participants complete their own business plans with validated assumptions about their clients, partners, and distributors.

 

The Soft Landings program will make introductions to potential partners and professional service for additional guidance. The content and structured approach will help the entrepreneurs and companies answer questions, validate assumptions and eliminate unknowns, thus reducing the risk of expanding into the United States.

Economic Development Lab hosts Peruvian delegation seeking innovation development

Universidad del Pacifico's Emprende UP

Members of the Universidad del Pacifico’s Emprende UP, were at Georgia Tech to learn about entrepreneurial ecosystems and best practices for innovation development and support. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Economic Development Lab (EDL) hosted a group of 12 professionals from Peru’s Universidad del Pacifico who sought to get a better understanding of entrepreneurial ecosystems and best practices for innovation development and support.

 

The group represents the university’s Emprende UP, which serves as its center for entrepreneurship and innovation. Emprende UP runs pre-incubation, incubation, and acceleration programs at  the Universidad del Pacifico, a small, private Jesuit school and highly ranked in Peru and across Latin America.

 

“We chose Georgia Tech because the Tech model in entrepreneurship and innovation is similar to what we are doing in Peru,” said Javier Salinas, Emprende UP’s director. “At the end of our three days here, we recognized that we’re on the right track, but we can improve and refine our services for the Peruvian innovation ecosystem.

 

EDL, a program of Tech’s economic development arm, the Enterprise Innovation Institute, helps communities and organizations apply innovative ideas to economic development in business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.

 

Economic Development Lab workshop

Brandy Stanfield-Nagel (right), program manager and faculty researcher at Economic Development Lab, discusses best practices techniques in startup development, with Diego Joseph Rengifo (left) and Carlos Zapata of Universidad del Pacifico’s Emprende UP. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“The objective of this three-day immersion program at Tech was for the Emprende UP team to experience and learn from the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems here at the Institute and across Atlanta,” said Mónica Novoa, an EDL project manager.

 

“The group learned and acquired key insights and best practices by interacting with us, and with the invited speakers, entrepreneurs, and city officials through a series of intensive and experiential workshops.”

 

As part of that learning process, the Emprende UP team toured Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), which is the state’s technology incubator, and met with some of its startups in the financial technology (FinTech) sector.

 

The FinTech space was of particular interest because Emprende UP has spent the past 18 months developing an ecosystem around it and working with Peru’s banking regulators, leading financial institutions and international technology firms towards that initiative, Salinas said.

 

Beyond FinTech, the team focused on learning about other components that comprise successful innovation ecosystems, such as closer alignment with academics. They also saw how corporations seek to be near universities and tap into those schools’ research and innovation expertise.

 

In the past five years, more than 20 large corporations, including Delta Air Lines, AT&T, and Anthem, have opened corporate innovation centers in and around Technology Square to access the talents and technologies developed at Georgia Tech.

 

“The first takeaway is that we need to work more closely with the academia side — teachers and students,” said Martha Zúñiga, Emprende UP’s head of special projects. “The second takeaway is that Peru is just developing its innovation ecosystem and we have to support the growth of corporate innovation centers, because their inclusion is part of that ecosystem growth.”

 

EDL, which has had projects in 151 of Georgia’s 159 counties and more than six dozen initiatives in 9 countries, will be going to Peru in August as a follow up in continuing its ecosystem development work with Emprende UP.

Georgia Institute of Technology hosts Colombian delegation in technology extension workshops

EDL Colombia

A team of engineers and business professionals from Colombia are visiting the Georgia Tech campus as part of a week-long series of training workshops with the Economic Development Lab and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Economic Development Lab (EDL) and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) are hosting a group of 23 professionals from Colombia this week, consisting of engineers and business managers from the cities of Medellín, Cali, and Bucaramanga.

 

The group is accompanied by representatives of the Colombian Confederation of Chambers of Commerce (Confecámaras), and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism’s Program of Productivity Transformation. All are participating in a week-long training program in technology extension.

 

“This program is part of our ongoing collaboration with the Private Council of Competitivenessto design and implement a program of technology extension in Colombia,” said Mónica Novoa, an EDL program manager. “As part of the training program at Georgia Tech, the group is attending workshops facilitated by our GaMEPgroup in topics including lean manufacturing, energy management, innovation, and growth management.”

 

The program also includes a site visit to a manufacturing company in Georgia to observe its facilities and learn how it has implemented strategies to increase productivity and competitiveness.

 

EDL helps communities and organizations create jobs and become more competitive through the application of innovative ideas to economic development. Areas of expertise include business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.

 

The GaMEP is a state and federally funded initiative and member of the national MEP network that is supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). GaMEP works with manufacturers across the state of Georgia and offers a low-cost, solution-based approach through coaching and education designed to increase top-line growth and reduce-bottom line costs.

 

Both programs are offerings of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, which is Georgia Tech’s economic development arm.

Economic Development Lab helps biomedical researcher from Puerto Rico pursue entrepreneurial vision

Visit follows Georgia Tech offer helps Hurricane Maria-affected entrepreneurs and researchers from Puerto Rico tap into Technology Square’s innovation ecosystem.

Mónica Novoa (left), project manager at Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Lab, stands with Jamily Ali Pons, a biomedical researcher at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. Ali Pons, who spent a week on Tech’s campus to further her research, recounted her experience in a recent radio interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

As a third-year biomedical student at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Jamily Ali Pons has been studying how parasites affect the monarch butterfly’s life cycle.

 

But Hurricane Maria, the costliest storm to ever hit the U.S. island territory, wrecked her research and lab facilities when it hit Puerto Rico, Sept. 20, 2017.

 

Now — after recently spending a week at the Georgia Institute of Technology — the 26-year-old San Juan native, said she’s broadening her sights beyond research and thinking about commercializing her findings.

 

“Georgia Tech helped me to meet a lot of experts in my field and get my research experiments to the next level with new methods and expand my opportunities in in the entrepreneurial field as a researcher,” Ali Pons said. “Being here helped me to see my research as an entrepreneur and to see the possibilities of taking it from the research stage to a product by immersing myself as an entrepreneur.”

 

Ali Pons’ visit to Georgia Tech followed the Institute’s offer to host entrepreneurs and innovators from Puerto Rico still affected by the deadly storm to continue their work here temporarily in Technology Square.

 

She shared her experiences in recent interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On Second Thought” radio program. (Listen to the broadcast at this link: https://bit.ly/2FlrjxB.)

 

The Economic Development Lab (EDL), program of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, has been a partner to various universities and economic development organizations on the island since 2012.

 

EDL is able to offer use of the space temporarily to Ali Pons and others via the Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures Inc., a non-profit organization and Tech affiliate.

 

The initiative followed a November 2017 visit to Georgia Tech by a delegation of the Echar Pa’Lante (Move Forward), a multi-sector alliance based in Puerto Rico and comprised of business and government leaders and educators.

 

Mónica Novoa, a project manager at EDL, said the offering is part of its ongoing work in Puerto Rico since 2012, when a team from the Institute went to the island to conduct a full assessment of its innovation ecosystem in a government-funded study.

 

“Our initial work with that study and what we’re doing now has been centered around the role of universities in developing entrepreneurial programs and to teach how to be innovative and creative from that standpoint,” Novoa said.

 

That initial assessment led to EDL partnerships with two non-profits Grupo Guayacan and Echar Pa’lante to implement a host of programs funded by various organizations.

 

Some of the collaborative accomplishments in Puerto Rico in the last three years alone include:

 

  • Startup bootcamps for 80 entrepreneurial teams.
  • Successful teams have raised $5 million in capital.
  • The launch of the island’s first-ever seed fund, which raised a $1 million.
  • Building one of the first mentor networks.
  • Supporting the University of Puerto Rico licensing its first securing the first license technology in its history.
  • Trained over 400 faculty and ecosystem members in lean startups techniques.
  • Supporting a $40 million research grant in cell manufacturing technologies for a consortium of partners that includes Georgia Tech, Emory University, and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

Georgia Tech hosts inaugural University Center Roundtable

Lynne Henkiel

Lynne Henkiel, director of Georgia Tech’s EDA University Center, addresses attendees of the inaugural Atlanta Regional Office University Center Roundtable. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s EDA University Center hosted 13 schools from across the Southeast March 13 and 14 for the inaugural Atlanta Regional Office University Center Roundtable.

 

An initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), these university centers marshal the resources found in colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in areas facing chronic and acute economic distress.

 

“This meeting was two-fold, for new EDA funding awardees, this was their opportunity to present their plans and discuss what projects they planned to take on,” said Lynne Henkiel, director of Tech’s EDA University Center. “For re-awardees like us at Tech, we shared our success stories regarding past projects and gave guidance on lessons learned from past award cycles.

 

The conference featured a dozen colleges and universities from the Southeast. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“It was designed to be an exchange of ideas, strategies and best practices.”

 

Among the schools in attendance: Georgia Southern University, Auburn, the University of Kentucky, Mississippi State University, Fayetteville State University, Western Carolina University, the University of Florida, University of Tennessee, Tennessee Tech University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of South Carolina.

 

H. Philip Paradice Jr.

H. Philip Paradice Jr., the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Southeast regional director, discusses EDA funding guidelines for projects. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Georgia Tech has been an EDA award recipient since the program’s inception in the 1980s — the only school with that distinction — since the 1980s.

 

In her role, Henkiel leads a wide range of outreach activities designed to promote job creation, development of high-skilled regional talent pools, business expansion in innovation clusters, and to create and nurture regional economic ecosystems in the state of Georgia. In addition, the Center seeks to conduct technology-related economic and policy research that will enhance Georgia’s competitive position.

 

In fiscal year 2017, Tech’s EDA University Center’s work helped save or create 255 jobs and led to private sector investment of $132.9 million in Georgia.

 

The Georgia Tech EDA University Center is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), which is Tech’s economic development and outreach arm.