Georgia-AIM Hosts Kick-Off Meeting

Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (Georgia-AIM) recently held its initial kick-off meeting in October 2022.

Over a two-day period, more than 100 participants from across the state came to Atlanta to brainstorm, collaborate, and share best practices as the group launched its effort in earnest following its winning of a $65 million award from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) in September.

Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology and a coalition of private and public partners across the state, Georgia-AIM seeks to reimagine job opportunities and wage growth in economically distressed and underserved rural parts of Georgia by melding artificial intelligence (AI) with manufacturing, an all-too-important segment of the state’s economy. Manufacturing’s economic impact to the state exceeds $60 billion a year and it employs more than 400,000, Georgia Department of Economic Development figures show.

The goal is to develop new opportunities through outreach programs designed to create a transformational Georgia workforce that will embrace artificial intelligence not be mystified or afraid of it, said Donna Ennis, director of Diversity Engagement and Program Development in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and also director of its Georgia MBDA Business Center. Ennis is leading the effort along with Aaron Stebner, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering, and Thomas R. Kurfess, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute.

A large part of the the Georgia-AIM effort, which is also focused on serving historically underrepresented and underserved groups, is getting people to understand artificial intelligence goes beyond robots and that it’s not about taking jobs away, but leveraging this ever-evolving technology to create the jobs of the future, Ennis said.

AI is already an integral part of daily life from smart homes and cars to cities and mobile devices, she said.

“We want to demystify what it is,” she said. “We want to be able to show you that there is a place for you in the artificial intelligence world, particularly as it relates to the manufacturing.”

Kick-off event attendees were able to network and get more in-depth presentations regarding the various projects under the Georgia-AIM umbrella. The projects include building automation solutions tailored for rural manufacturers, industry pilot trials, workforce training for AI manufacturing technologies, prototyping labs and studios, curriculum development for K-12 students, and an virtual reality training innovation lab.

In addition to Georgia Tech, the coalition of 12 public-private partners includes:

·       Georgia Department of Community Affairs

·       Georgia Cyber Center

·       Houston County Development Authority

·       KITTLabs

·       Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs

·       Robins Air Force Base 21st Century Partnership

·       Spelman College

·       Southwest Georgia Regional Commission

·       Technologists of Color

·       Technology Association of Georgia Education Collaborative

·       Technical College System of Georgia

·       University of Georgia

U.S. Department of Agriculture Awards Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership Grant to Address Food Safety

Grant to be used to train food and beverage entrepreneurs in underserved communities in best practices

The pandemic upended the food and beverage industries in ways that are just coming to light, such as the destruction of the peer and mentoring networks new entrepreneurs rely on to learn how to grow their businesses from basement to production.

To help rebuild those essential learning networks and revive some of the training they once offered, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded a three-year, $550,000 grant to Georgia Tech’s Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP).

GaMEP, housed in the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, will train food industry entrepreneurs in Georgia and the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico in food safety practices and regulations. The grant funding will also be used to train the trainers, which will help rebuild those critical networks.

This is the largest sponsored grant the Enterprise Innovation Institute has received from USDA, marking the importance of the food sector in Georgia.

“The food manufacturing industry is a focus area for GaMEP, as it is the largest manufacturing industry sector in Georgia,” said GaMEP Director Tim Israel. “We have increased our food-industry specific services significantly over the past five years, and this grant will allow us to expand our reach to serve more small and underserved companies to coach them on safe and efficient production processes that will help them grow.”

Expanding GaMEP’s reach to minority and underserved populations is an essential element of the grant.

“The purpose of this grant is to provide free — and this was really important to us — free food-safety training,” said Wendy White, industry manager, food safety and quality, at GaMEP and grant manager. “We’re also coupling that with business development training.”

The training will be focused on entrepreneurs in underserved communities in metro Atlanta, Middle and South Georgia, and Puerto Rico, all areas that have experienced a lot of growth in the food sector.

“Puerto Rico has this amazing cultural heritage around food. Because it is an island, they have concerns about food sovereignty — that is, making enough food to support themselves,” said Brandy Nagel, co-manager on the grant and program manager in the Georgia Minority Business Development Agency Business Center at the Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Part of why we’re including Puerto Rico in this grant is to build capacity on the island for food entrepreneurs to be safe and to scale up their businesses so that they can be successful and profitable.”

Grant partners Fort Valley State University, in Middle Georgia, and PRiMEX, the MEP center in Puerto Rico, will work with GaMEP to reach entrepreneurs in their regions.

The grant also includes funding for capacity building, in the form of train-the-trainer education in the three regions. “Our trainers will continue to disseminate this information to their communities after we’re gone,” White said. “What’s exciting about that is that it will continue to have impact for years to come as more entrepreneurs get this training, which will only serve to strengthen the ecosystem.”

Learn more about GaMEP’s commitment to food manufacturing companies in minority and underserved communities in this video.

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)
The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, whose purpose is to help manufacturers improve their performance in the global market. GaMEP offers coaching and training in operational excellence, technology implementation, leadership and strategy, marketing, energy management, and sustainability, to manufacturers across the state to help increase top-line growth, reduce bottom-line costs, and boost the economic well-being of Georgia. GaMEP is part of the MEP National Network, a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing. To learn more, visit gamep.org.

About the Georgia MBDA Business Center
As part of a national network of 64 centers and special projects funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the Georgia MBDA Business Center helps minority business enterprises (MBEs) obtain capital, access markets and business opportunities domestically and globally, increase profitability, and scale operations. By providing technical assistance, coaching, education, and contacts, the center has helped MBEs create more than 7,000 jobs, and achieve nearly $6.4 billion in contracts and finance, while remaining competitive economic engines in their respective markets. To learn more, visit georgiambdabusinesscenter.org

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute
The Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s economic development unit, serves all of Georgia through a variety of services and programs that build and scale startups, grow business enterprises, and energize ecosystem builders. As the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based economic development organization, the Institute’s expertise and reach are global; its innovation, entrepreneurship, and ecosystem development programs serve governments, universities, nonprofits, and other organizations worldwide. In 2021, the Enterprise Innovation Institute served more than 15,500 businesses, communities, and entrepreneurs. Those clients reported startup investment capital exceeding $1.1 billion and creating or saving more than 11,300 jobs. The Enterprise Innovation Institute’s total 2021 financial impact exceeded $2.9 billion. Learn more at innovate.gatech.edu.

Serena Williams Lobs Venture Funds to Enterprise Innovation Institute Client Lillii RNB

Barbara Jones-Brown headshot
Barbara Jones-Brown.

ATDC and Georgia MBDA Business Center client Barbara Jones-Brown has received $3 million in venture funding, led by tennis great Serena Williams’ early-stage venture fund. The investment in Jones-Brown’s company, Lillii RNB Inc., will support Freeing Returns, a platform that analyzes product return data to detect fraud.

 

Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, home to ATDC and the Georgia MBDA Business Center, first met Jones-Brown in 2015, when she and her team were the grand prize winners of the ATDC FinTech Hack Competition, sponsored by payment processing provider Worldpay.

 

“I think at least four or five of the problems they wanted to solve during that hackathon were related to [retail] returns. We knew that space very well,” Jones-Brown said. “We took on all of the challenges they had around returns, we built all of that into the application that is now Freeing Returns, and that has gotten us this $3 million investment.”

 

The hackathon was the beginning of a fruitful relationship with Georgia Tech. She has also worked with the Opportunity Hub at its home in Tech Square, received support from the ATDC following the hackathon win, hired Georgia Tech students as interns and employees, and now is a client of the Georgia MBDA Business Center. “We’ve taken full advantage of having Georgia Tech in the backyard,” she said.

 

And while the resources Georgia Tech offers have been important – and were, in fact, the catalyst for the development of Freeing Returns – Jones-Brown has also participated in other entrepreneurial programs in Atlanta.

 

“One of the great values of the Enterprise Innovation Institute is we engage in hand-offs — from external partners and to external partners, as well as within Georgia Tech,” said Enterprise Innovation Institute Vice President David Bridges. “We are a valued connector and capacity builder within the Atlanta and Georgia ecosystem.”

 

That ecosystem came full circle in 2020. Jones-Brown was graduating from the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center’s Ascend Atlanta program, a small business support program for minority and women-owned companies funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Georgia MBDA Business Center Director Donna Ennis spoke at the graduation. Jones-Brown reached out to Ennis and became a client.

 

“We’re really helping her with capacity building,” Ennis said about the work her program is doing with Jones-Brown. “That’s the coaching that she’s getting and connecting her into different networks. We’ll continue to work with her to try to identify opportunities for her product.”

 

Meanwhile, Jones-Brown has $3 million to spend. Part of it will support work her company is doing with Salesforce. She’s also recruited new talent into the company, leaders in the retail loss prevention arena, to work on predicting fraud rather than responding to it, she said. “We’re adding artificial intelligence and machine learning to the data analytics that we’re collecting. We will start getting better at predicting the fraud before it happens, so that we can alert retailers to potential fraudulent transactions.”

 

And it all started with a hackathon at the ATDC.

Georgia MBDA Business Center and Siemens USA Announce Winners of Siemens Entrepreneurship Grants

Gavin Ireland, founder of Georgia Green Energy Services, gives a presentation to Siemens and Georgia Tech leaders. (Photo: Allison L. Carter)

Georgia Green Energy Services, an Atlanta-based firm in the electrical construction industry, was recently awarded $20,000 from Siemens USA as part of the technology company’s ongoing commitment to expanding vendor diversity in the supply chain.

 

Founded by Gavin Ireland in 2007, Georgia Green Energy Services is one of nine Black-owned businesses across the country awarded the $20,000 Siemens Entrepreneurship Grant. The companies will join Siemens’ supplier database, which is comprised of more than 3,700 small and diverse businesses. That business segment represents more than a quarter of Siemens’ entire supplier base.

 

“What Siemens is doing is important because it’s impactful for the community and for business owners to be able to see that large corporations are making make these investments,” Ireland said. “It means a lot to me. A lot of times, as minority businesses, we have to work with limited resources, so this investment in us is very important.”

 

Siemens’ announcement was in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the Georgia MBDA Business Center at Georgia Tech.

 

The nine winning recipient businesses were selected from U.S. cities where Siemens has a significant footprint: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Sacramento. These grants, now totaling $320,000 over the past two years, complement the nearly $1 billion that Siemens USA spends annually doing business with small and diverse-owned firms.

 

“What we’re seeking are those minority enterprises that deserve to be highlighted within the whole network — the people who are really making a difference and showing the way and working on things that are absolutely essential to our future,” said Siemens CEO Barbara Humpton during a recent visit to Georgia Tech’s campus, where the announcement was made. “This is about being in a network

From left, Gavin Ireland, 2022 Atlanta Siemens Grant recipient; Leonard Wright, 2021 Atlanta recipient; Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton; Donna M. Ennis, director of the Georgia MBDA Business Center at Georgia Tech’s ’s Enterprise Innovation Institute; Patric Stadtfeld, Siemens USA head of Supply Chain Management for the Americas; David Bridges, vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and Jennifer Pasley Georgia MBDA Business Center program manager. (Photo: Allison L. Carter)

together and working together to create change.”

 

In January 2022, MBDA Business Centers in those cities nominated 37 Black-owned businesses to apply for the Siemens grants. Nominees were selected based on criteria and specialties that aligned with industry demand: preventative and predictive maintenance, fire and security, electrical, construction, rail and transport, mobility solutions, and facilities and project management. The Georgia MBDA Business Center evaluated and selected the winners.

 

In addition to Georgia Green Energy Services, the other selected businesses are:

 

  • Maven Construction – Boston
  • E-Fix Housing Solutions – Charlotte
  • GCC Enterprises, LLC – Dallas
  • Onyx Enterprise, Inc. – Detroit
  • Arbor Electrical Service, Inc. – Miami
  • Evans Electrical Services, Inc. – New York
  • A M Electric, Inc. – Philadelphia
  • AHI Construction, Inc. – Sacramento

 

“Siemens continues to show its commitment to Black-owned businesses through the Siemens Entrepreneurship Grant,” said Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F., director of the Georgia MBDA Business Center and director of Diversity Engagement and Program Development at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “The business community recognizes the importance of diversity and its economic impact on communities,” she said, noting that Georgia Green Energy Services is among the Georgia MBDA Business Center’s roster of clients.

 

“Grants and commitments like these not only provide a critical mechanism to enhance businesses’ viability through these challenging times, but to grow and thrive.”

Siemens Expands Supply Chain Diversity Through $140K in Grants to Small, Black-Owned Businesses

Collaboration with the Georgia Minority Business Development Agency Business Center at Georgia Tech supports diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship

 

WASHINGTON — Siemens USA today announced it will award $140,000 in grants to small, Black-owned businesses for the second consecutive year to support diversity, equity and inclusion in business development and entrepreneurship.

 

Siemens and the Georgia MBDA Business Center at Georgia Tech will select the winning recipient businesses in seven U.S. cities where Siemens has a significant footprint: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, and Sacramento. These grants, now totaling $280,000 over the past two years, contribute to Siemens USA’s annual investment of nearly $1 billion in small and diverse-owned businesses that comprise nearly a quarter of the company’s entire supplier base.

 

“At Siemens, we’ve made it a priority to do our part to help build a more resilient America, one that’s more equitable and inclusive,” said Nichelle Grant, head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Siemens USA. “This is why we want to make significant investments, such as this one, in businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities, among other diverse owners.”

 

The national network of 60-plus MBDA Business Centers and special projects — including the one housed at Georgia Tech — is funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.

 

The MBDA Business Centers will nominate up to five finalist businesses for the grants in each city based on criteria that aligns with industry demand, including preventative and predictive maintenance, fire and security, electrical, construction, and facilities and project management. The Georgia MBDA Business Center at Georgia Tech will evaluate and select the winning recipient in each city. The winners will be announced in late February 2022, and each will receive a $20,000 grant.

 

“As we work to build and strengthen America’s economic resiliency, it’s critical that all sectors of the economy share in that,” said Donna Ennis, director of the Georgia MBDA Business Center. “Collaborative initiatives such as this effort with Siemens helps us achieve that mission.”

 

A 2021 White House Council of Economic Advisers report shows “differences in business ownership account for 20 percent of the wealth gap between average white and Black households.” In response to this analysis, President Biden recently announced a goal of increasing the share of contracts going to small and disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2025. Grants such as these will help contribute to the administration’s goal of increasing opportunity for all underserved businesses.

 

“In order to remain resilient as a company, we must be diverse and equitable, which requires us to proactively help to close the representation gap in the supply chain,” said Patric Stadtfeld, head of Supply Chain Management for the Americas, Siemens USA. “We’re proud of our growing supplier database of more than 3,700 small and diverse businesses and will continue to support business development in underserved communities and cities across the country.”

 

Siemens USA is committed to giving businesses owned by minorities, women, the disadvantaged, the disabled, veterans, and other diverse suppliers maximum opportunity to participate in its competitive contracting and procurement processes. Supplier diversity contributes to excellence in the supply chain, leading to growth for Siemens and its suppliers in the marketplace, as well as helping to create social impacts on the changing demographic landscape of the United States. To learn more about Siemens USA’s Supplier Diversity Program, visit here.

 

Learn more about Siemens USA’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at usa.siemens.com/diversity.

 

About Siemens Corp.
Siemens Corp.
 is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability, and internationality for more than 170 years. Active around the world, the company focuses on intelligent infrastructure for buildings and distributed energy systems and on automation and digitalization in the process and manufacturing industries. Siemens brings together the digital and physical worlds to benefit customers and society. Through Mobility, a leading supplier of intelligent mobility solutions for rail and road transport, Siemens is helping to shape the world market for passenger and freight services. Via its majority stake in the publicly listed company Siemens Healthineers, Siemens is also a world-leading supplier of medical technology and digital health services. In addition, Siemens holds a minority stake in Siemens Energy, a global leader in the transmission and generation of electrical power that has been listed on the stock exchange since Sept. 28, 2020. In fiscal 2020, Siemens Group USA generated revenue of $17 billion and employs approximately 40,000 people serving customers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

 

About the Minority Business Development Agency
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal program solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. MBDA invests in a national network of more than 60 business centers, specialty centers, and grantees. Our programs offer customized business development and industry-focused services to provide greater access to capital, contracts, and markets. With a vision of economic prosperity for all American business enterprises, MBDA programs, services, and initiatives focus on helping MBEs grow today, while preparing them to meet the industry needs of tomorrow. To learn more about the MBDA and its business center network, visit www.mbda.gov.

 

About the Georgia MBDA Business Center
As part of a national network of 60-plus centers, the Georgia MBDA Center helps minority business enterprises (MBEs) access capital, increase profitability, scale, and grow their businesses. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Georgia MBDA Business Center is a program 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: georgiambdabusinesscenter.org.