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

Meet Your New Colleagues

With remote work continuing, it’s often hard to get to know one another, especially for new employees. So, we’re looking for new ways to make connections. Meet this month’s two new employees, Ward Broom and Alberto Ponce. If you run into them or someone else you don’t know at a meeting or on Zoom or Teams, introduce yourself. Work relationships are important to well-being, and this is just one way to help cultivate those relationships.

Ward Broom, Automation & Robotics Catalyst, Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)

Ward Broom

Ward will oversee the ATDC Automation and Robotics Program — sponsored by Amazon Robotics. He will recruit startups, coach and mentor them, and market the program to those entrepreneurs looking to build and scale technology companies in the robotics or automation sectors.

A triple graduate of Georgia Tech, Ward earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and an Executive MBA. One of his sons is also a Tech grad with degrees in civil engineering and computer science.

He loves golf and travel – especially trips to the North Carolina mountains, where he can indulge both passions. His wife is a writer and his older son graduated from the Citadel and serves in the Army.

Alberto Ponce, Associate Project Manager, Economic Development Lab (EDL)

Alberto Ponce

Alberto will work in the Innovation Ecosystems group to support projects that develop entrepreneurship ecosystems in Latin America and assist with the Soft Landings program that helps foreign companies navigate their way into the U.S. market.

Alberto has experience running entrepreneurship programs and as an entrepreneur himself. Most recently, he served as the innovation center coordinator at the Medical Center of the Americas in El Paso, Texas.

A native of Mexico, Alberto exercises his creativity in his off time. He enjoys reading, watching classic and contemporary films, listening to music, and playing chess.

With a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico, Alberto looks forward to working on projects that help enrich communities around the world.

The Advanced Technology Development Center Announces its Startup Graduating Class of 2022

Thirteen graduating companies comprise one of the incubator’s largest and most diverse graduating class of founders

ATLANTA — The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia’s technology incubator, announced today 13 startups will graduate from the program’s top-tier Signature portfolio.

The 2022 class marks some significant milestones for ATDC, a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. The 13 startups constitute one of the most diverse and largest graduating class in ATDC’s 42-year history.

Eight of the companies have diverse founders or co-founders, including four women.

The ATDC Class of 2022 also brings the total number of graduating startups to more than 210 companies. Collectively, the ATDC Class of 2022 has raised more than $216.7 million in capital from investors since January 2021.

“This is an outstanding and spectacular class of graduates,” said Chris Nedza, ATDC’s lead entrepreneur in residence. “This group of founders are gamechangers and disruptors in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, insurance, energy, ecommerce, artificial intelligence, and information security. We are extremely proud of the ATDC Class of 2022 and all their achievements.”

One of the graduating companies, Apptega, founded by Armistead Whitney, works to address challenges that companies of all sizes face in implementing effective cybersecurity.

Being part of the ATDC experience helped the company navigate the challenges all startups face as well as scale successfully, he said.

“Starting a company from scratch is long, exciting, painful, and rewarding all at once. ATDC delivers the support, infrastructure, and guidance critical to our success,” Whitney said. “Sharing issues with other CEOs, receiving advice from the entrepreneurs in residence, getting connected to capital, and participating in programs at Georgia Tech gave us a huge competitive advantage not only to survive, but to thrive.”

Similarly, OncoLens, a leading data and clinical decision support hub that supports the multi-disciplinary discussion of cancer cases by experts and care teams, credits ATDC with its growth trajectory.

In the past four years, the company, co-founded by Anju Mathew and Dr. Lijo Simpson, has expanded to serve nearly 200 clients, including international customers.

“The favorite part of our ATDC experience has been the guidance received from ATDC catalysts and mentors,” Mathew, the company’s CEO, said. “The ability to engage with other startups and learn from each other is so key for early founders. And Aubrey Lenyard (ATDC Community Engagement Manager), is of course, just the best.”

The ATDC Class of 2021 will be honored October 27 in a special ceremony being held on the Georgia Tech campus.

The class includes:

  • Apptega: Makes it easy for businesses to build, manage, and report their cybersecurity programs while meeting regulatory requirements.
  • Buckle: Provides insurance to ride share drivers using new data, technology, and analytics.
  • Carbice: Produces multifunctional material solutions from Carbice® Nanotube Technology that set the standard for performance, reliability, and low-cost assembly within the world’s most important electronic, energy, and industrial products.
  • cove.tool: A web-based software platform for analyzing, drawing, engineering, and connecting data for building design and construction.
  • DataSeers: A big data platform for reconciliation, compliance, fraud, and analytics in the financial services sector.
  • Field Pros Direct: The industry’s first on-demand adjusters’ network.
  • Layr: InsureTech business that builds software to automate and digitize insurance brokerages’ smallbusiness departments.
  • Momnt: Helps merchants and merchant networks master the art of lending.
  • OncoLens: A healthcare technology company that enables the development of the best treatment plan for each cancer case.
  • SmartCommerce: Its technology platform enables one-click conversion from any digital impulse point, into any retailer cart.
  • Tonic: Anonymizes production data.
  • Voxie: Technology platform to connect with customers via text message, build real relationships, and turn those relationships into action.
  • Worthix: Customer survey platform built with artificial intelligence to help marketers pinpoint the “why behind the buy.”

It was important to Marty Young, Buckle’s co-founder, to be part of an incubator equally dedicated to finding technology companies focused on substantive impact for the better along with ensuring their overall success.

“As Buckle has grown its efforts to transform financial services offerings for an underserved audience of gig drivers, it has been a privilege to be surrounded by ATDC companies that are similarly focused on making a difference for their core target groups,” Young said. “In addition, Atlanta has been a center of gravity for Buckle since the first days of our formation, and it remains important to us to be active and connected in the communities where we live and operate.”

Companies in the ATDC Signature portfolio are those deemed most ready for long-term growth and success. ATDC Signature is a rigorous, metrics-driven, and milestones-based program for companies with transformative products.

To graduate from ATDC Signature, startups must meet several milestones, including annualized recurring revenue of at least $1 million, an identified scalable business model, and the ability to finance growth.

“ATDC has allowed Carbice to grow from an idea to a thriving leader in the thermal solutions market,” said Baratunde Cola, the company’s founder and professor in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff’s School of Mechanical Engineering. “The best part of the company’s time at ATDCwas the ability to learn how to build and scale a manufacturing operation with the support of Georgia Tech and ATDC every step of the way.”

About the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the state of Georgia’s technology startup incubator. Founded in 1980 by the Georgia General Assembly, which funds it each year, ATDC’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs in Georgia to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in the creation of viable, disruptive technology companies. Since its founding, ATDC has grown to become one of the longest running and most successful university-affiliated incubators in the United States, with its graduate startup companies raising $3 billion in investment financing and generating more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia. To learn more, visit atdc.org.

FEMA Awards $1.5 million to Georgia Tech and Alliance Solutions Group to Develop National Climate Resilience Training

The grant supports the creation of curriculum and tools to empower disadvantaged communities and instill equity

ATLANTA — Global climate change is causing an increase in the frequency, severity, and persistence of destructive weather events. These events coupled with economic- and health-related crises have exacerbated disproportionate effects and inequitable outcomes for vulnerable populations.

To help mitigate these outcomes, Georgia Institute of Technology will work with Alliance Solutions Group (ASG) to create a training and education curriculum that fosters partnerships, information sharing, and problem solving among community-based organizations, local and state leaders, first responders, economic development organizations, and emergency managers.

“We are seeing more and more severe weather events, many of them having a disproportionate impact on small and underserved communities in our country,” said David Bridges, vice president of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “This is an opportunity to use our expertise and networks to help communities that have been hit hardest solve this growing crisis.”

Supported by a three-year funding award of $1.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the training will provide community leaders with the tools and resources to develop climate adaptation strategies that will empower disadvantaged communities and instill equity.

“Our needs analysis identified training gaps that compound existing inequities and highlight the need for systemic solutions to improve climate literacy and better integrate underserved populations into all elements of the National Preparedness System,” said Bob Campbell, founder and CEO of ASG. “This education series will support communities around the country in fostering partnerships to develop and implement equitable climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

ASG, a Newport News, Virginia-based company that provides innovative emergency management and environmental solutions to the public, private, and defense sectors, is partnering with the Enterprise Innovation Institute and Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the research, development, and delivery of the training.

“I am excited to contribute to these courses on climate resilience with lessons we have learned developing a course at Georgia Tech on using climate information to improve the resilience of coastal communities to sea level rise,” said Alex Robel, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who will be part of the team developing content. “Our goal is to disseminate best practices to emergency management agencies around the U.S.”

FEMA developed the grant to further implementation of its goals to instill equity in emergency management and lead the country in climate resilience.

Doreen Kincaid, project manager for the grant

“This is an important opportunity for Georgia Tech to build on its experience with the Smart Sea Level Sensors project in Chatham County that provides real-time information on sea level rise to underserved communities,” said Doreen Kincaid, the project manager on the grant. “It will also allow Georgia Tech and ASG to leverage their partnership and experience on two previous FEMA grants related to hazardous materials and economic recovery to develop and deliver a training program with measurable results.”

National in scope with a mix of virtual and in-person delivery, the training courses will be available in all 50 states, six territories, and 573 Native American communities. In support of the Justice40 Initiative, President Joe Biden’s order to direct 40% of the benefits of federal investments related to climate change and training to disadvantaged communities, the team will prioritize training for those communities. As courses are completed and ready for delivery, they will be posted in FEMA’s National Training and Educational Division online catalogue.

As community leaders complete training, they will be equipped to conduct climate risk and social vulnerability assessments, outline strategies for incorporating vulnerable populations into plans, develop risk communication strategies, establish plans to stabilize community lifelines, and understand and apply climate forecasts into emergency management programs.

About Georgia Tech

The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is one of the top public research universities in the U.S., developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its more than 46,000 students, representing 50 states and more than 150 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

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. 

About School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, part of the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech, produces breakthrough discoveries through research and prepares students to advance the knowledge of Earth sciences as they become leaders in academia, government, and industry. EAS applies scientific knowledge and principles to inform and support public policy, resource management, and environmental stewardship. The internationally recognized School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences has delivered 15 climate-related courses to more than 5,000 students over the last 10 years.

About Alliance Solutions Group, Inc.

Alliance Solutions Group (ASG) is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that offers emergency management and environmental, health, and safety solutions to all levels of the public, private, and defense sectors. ASG’s team of strategists, thought leaders, subject matter experts, and instructors have an average of 20+ years of experience in their respective fields. In meeting customers’ needs, ASG leverages thousands of lessons learned, best practices and business processes that have been synthesized over 17 years. Having conducted over 15,000 workplace audits and several thousand training and exercise events, ASG has built a solid understanding of the challenges facing both private and public sector organizations in multiple sectors. ASG’s perspective spans from the local to the global, with offices across the U.S. and throughout the world, and partnerships with municipal, state, federal, military, and private sector clients in 48 states and 17 countries. Learn more at asg-inc.org.

About the Federal Emergency Management Agency

At FEMA, we employ more than 20,000 people nationwide. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we have 10 regional offices located across the country. We leverage a tremendous capacity to coordinate within the federal government to make sure America is equipped to prepare for and respond to disasters. Our mission is helping people before, during and after disasters. Our core values and guiding principles help us achieve it. To learn more, visit fema.gov.

Debra Lam Appointed to U.S. Department of Commerce’s New Internet of Things Advisory Board

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce has appointed Debra Lam, executive director of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, to its new Internet of Things Advisory Board (IoTAB), to advise the Internet of Things Federal Working Group. Lam joins 15 other experts on a board that includes a wide range of stakeholders outside of the federal government with expertise relating to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Debra Lam, executive director, Partnership for Inclusive Innovation

The appointments are the first for the recently established advisory board, which was created in accordance with the requirements of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, and in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended.

The board will advise the federal working group on matters including the identification of any federal regulations, programs or policies that may inhibit or promote the development of IoT; situations in which IoT could deliver significant and scalable economic and societal benefits to the United States, including smart traffic and transit technologies, augmented logistics and supply chains, environmental monitoring, and health care; IoT opportunities and challenges for small businesses; and any IoT-related international opportunities for the U.S. Full details on the board’s activities are provided in a Federal Register notice.

The board consists of 16 members and represents a broad range of disciplines from across academia, industry and civil society. Board members will serve two-year appointments, and all meetings are open to the public.

Launched in 2020, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation is a public-private organization that was created to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the leader for innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success. With support from Georgia Tech and a host of private and public partners, including the State of Georgia, the Partnership’s focus pillars of community research, workforce development, student engagement, and economic opportunity are a powerful combination that provide technical and financial support to democratize innovation through collaboration. Among its offerings, and one of the reasons Lam is on the board is the Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation program, which activates collaborations between researchers and municipalities to explore innovative uses of technology and data in pursuit of prosperity for all.

In addition to Lam, the newly appointed members include:

  • Benson M. Chan (Chair), Chief Operating Officer, Strategy of Things Inc.
  • Daniel W. Caprio Jr. (Vice Chair), Co-founder and Chair, The Providence Group
  • Michael J. Bergman, Vice President, Technology and Standards, Consumer Technology Association
  • Ranveer Chandra, Managing Director of Research for Industry and Chief Technology Officer of Agri-Food, Microsoft
  • Nicholas Emanuel, Product Manager, CropX
  • Steven E. Griffith, Senior Industry Director, National Electrical Manufacturers Association
  • Tom Katsioulas, Chair, Global Semiconductor Alliance
  • Kevin T. Kornegay, Professor and IoT Security Endowed Chair, Morgan State University
  • Ann Mehra, Adviser to Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
  • Robby Moss, President and Principal Consultant, TGL Enterprises LLC
  • Nicole Raimundo, Chief Information Officer, Town of Cary, North Carolina
  • Maria Rerecich, Senior Director of Product Testing, Consumer Reports
  • Debbie A. Reynolds, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Data Privacy Officer, Debbie Reynolds Consulting
  • Arman Shehabi, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Peter Tseronis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Dots and Bridges LLC

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will provide administrative support to the advisory board, and information on board activities can be found on the NIST website.

Engage Celebrates Five Years of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

First-of-its-kind program connects high-growth startups with Fortune 500 companies

Engage, the first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation program and venture fund, celebrates five years of connecting startups with leading corporations. Engage, an affiliate program of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, combines strategic capital, a startup growth accelerator, Georgia Tech faculty and resources, and a collaborative network of leading global corporations to create a corporate innovation and startup go-to-market accelerator program that has rocketed the Southeast’s emergence as a leading tech hub. Marty Flanagan, president and CEO of Invesco, G.P. “Bud” Peterson, president emeritus of Georgia Tech, and Blake Patton, managing partner of Tech Square Ventures founded the program in 2017. They were joined by nine other founding corporations, including Delta Air Lines, Chik-fil-A, The Home Depot, and UPS.

“As one of the founding corporate partners of Engage, Invesco recognizes the tremendous impact entrepreneurs have on the U.S. economy, and we’re committed to working with the Engage corporate partners to empower their growth in the Southeast region,” said Flanagan. “Through working together with a diverse group of Engage startup founders, we have all benefited from shared innovation, insights into new technology, and invaluable learning opportunities. We look forward to continuing to shape and nurture the growing community of entrepreneurs in Atlanta.”

Blake Patton, managing partner, Tech Square Ventures

Since its founding, Engage has mentored and invested in 10 startup cohorts, a total of 75 companies. Its portfolio companies have inked 116 customer contracts signed with corporate partners. Engage startups have raised more than $2.7 billion in capital after graduating from the program and employ more than 3,000.

“Engage’s aim is to establish Atlanta and the Southeast as the best place in the country for enterprise-focused startups to do business,” said Patton. “Our partners have enabled us to build not only a startup growth accelerator but also an innovation platform that has accelerated corporate innovation and connectivity in the region and helped it to become a premier tech and innovation hub. We are proud that 29 of our startups are headquartered or have team members in Georgia.”

The Engage fund, managed by Tech Square Ventures, invests in companies selected for its Go-To-Market Program. That program, in partnership with Georgia Tech, combines education and one-of-a-kind access to help startups break through the barriers of selling to and partnering with large enterprises.

Engage’s Georgia Tech Faculty Council is comprised of subject matter experts who serve in areas including customer experience, data analytics, supply chain, future of work, and sustainability. They offer advice on which startups should be invited into a cohort and facilitate cross-corporate innovation activities.

“Without a doubt, Engage proves academia can play a significant role in bringing together startups and corporations for innovation,” Raghupathy Sivakumar, the Wayne J. Holman Chair professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the vice president of commercialization and chief commercialization officer for the Institute. “The Engage model of corporate partners, plus startups, plus academia is unparalleled in the country, if not the world. We are actively trying to elevate Engage to even further heights by investing in programs that heavily involve our faculty and students in its activities. We can’t wait to see Engage continue to scale and help propel Georgia Tech as one of the top entrepreneurial universities in the country.”

The support and networking of the Engage program has resulted in tremendous success for Engage companies. Highlights include:

  • The Mom Project, a marketplace connecting enterprises with working mothers, reached 1 million mothers.
  • Moth + Flame, a developer of virtual training technology, appeared on the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
  • Cloverly, an application programming interface (API) that matches digital transactions to equivalent carbon removal, making transactions carbon neutral in real time.
  • Verusen, an AI platform to harmonize materials data and predict inventory in manufacturing supply chains.
  • MetaCX, a network that companies join to manage the expected value from their business, raised a round of $5.1 million, comprised of 14 angel investors, bringing the total capital raised by the company to $33.6 million.
Rachel Carpenter, co-founder and CEO of Intrinio

Rachel Carpenter, co-founder and CEO of Intrinio, a financial technology company and member of the second cohort, would encourage startup leaders who get the chance to go through the Engage program.

“You will receive unprecedented access to some of the largest strategic institutions in the world. We were in one of the early cohorts, and we’re still connected with executives at Intercontinental Exchange, and Invesco, and Goldman Sachs,” she said. “There’s this deep spirit of collaboration. They don’t forget about you and your cohort overnight. They still know who you are, what your technology is, and sometimes years later they come back and re-open the door for you. So doing the program is not just a short-term value. It’s long-term relationships that you’re establishing.”

Despite the success of the last five years, Engage isn’t content to rest on its laurels. Engage looks to expand in the next five years – and beyond, Patton said, into new verticals, while continuing to support its growing portfolio of companies.

About Engage

Engage is a first-of-its-kind innovation platform comprising category-leading corporations in the southeastern United States that have joined forces to support startups and build the future of enterprise. Engage is designed to promote innovation through a network of connections between startups, corporations, university researchers, and the venture community. Engage’s corporate partners include Chick-fil-A, The Coca-Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, The Home Depot, Honeywell Connected Enterprise, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Inspire Brands, Invesco, Invest Georgia, UPS, and Wellstar Health System. These corporate partners, along with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and Tech Square Ventures, provide tools, hands-on support and resources that help startups develop go-to-market strategies, open doors faster and transform strategies into action.  For more information, visit engage.vc.

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.

Enter the State of Innovation

The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation continues to accelerate shared economic success across Georgia

 

Two years ago, the state of Georgia and a coalition of private and civic partners launched a revolutionary organization to catalyze innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success throughout the state, with the goal of making Georgia the tech capital of the East Coast and a model of inclusive innovation. That public-private organization, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (Partnership), has succeeded beyond the founders’ imaginings.

 

In just two years, the Partnership has delivered technology – and more – to both rural and urban communities. Working with local governments, corporations, universities, startups, and nonprofits, the Partnership has invested in more than 30 projects in 90 Georgia legislative districts that have created new businesses and jobs, increased access to financial and social capital, deployed more than 170 technologies, and engaged students in more than 25,000 hours devoted to civic projects.

 

Debra Lam, executive director of the Partnership

The Partnership’s unique model combines the grantmaking strengths of a foundation with hands-on operations and infrastructure. This allows the Partnership to focus on long-term investments in geographically distributed, nontraditional, underserved, and emerging areas to expand economic access to Georgians of all backgrounds.

 

“The Partnership believes in the broadest definition of inclusive innovation,” said founding Executive Director Debra Lam. “We work to increase access and expand geographic, racial, gender, and socio-economic equity, and opportunity for all to create innovative ways to drive economic and community growth.”

 

The Partnership has invested $1.3 million in projects around the state that create and sustain economic success. These projects have provided a match of $1.7 million and secured an additional $6.2 million to support their growth.

 

In the last year, the Partnership has driven success through its four pillars:

 

Economic Opportunity

This pillar looks to scale proven programs, services, and technologies and nurture communities of practice for knowledge sharing and collaboration. One such project was the Conservation Fund’s Working Farms Fund (WFF). WFF, the first of its kind in the U.S., helps shield farmland in perpetuity from sprawl. Last year, the fund purchased seven farms, securing 674 acres of land for 31 farmers, 85% of whom are from underserved communities or are women. This coming year, the fund will secure six more farms and at least 500 acres for a dozen farmers. In addition, the fund will launch a companion program in Illinois and is in discussions with Texas and North Carolina about programs in those states

 

Student Engagement

This pillar aims to develop the next generation of leaders across the state in public service, innovation, and technology. The flagship program is the Smart Community Corps (SCC), a summer internship that in 2022 placed 33 paid interns, representing 11 Georgia universities and 17+ academic disciplines, working in pairs on 16 projects in communities including Woodstock, Atlanta, Albany, Spalding County, and beyond. SCC projects included The Ray, which is working to transform a portion of I-85 into a global model for sustainable transportation, and the Georgia Entrepreneurship Project, which is mapping entrepreneurship and innovation across the state with the goal of expanding prosperity more equitably.

 

Community Research

The oldest pillar, community research, starts with the needs and priorities of the community and pairs that with multidisciplinary, applied research that is advanced with community implementation and feedback. This approach offers the community access to innovative tools and research. The Georgia Smart Communities Challenge is an award-winning program that empowers communities to meet their goals of a smart and connected future. This program has served 20 communities across the state, including Savannah and Valdosta, where projects have helped ameliorate blighted property and save critical time at intersections, allowing first responders to get to emergencies more quickly.

 

Workforce Development

The newest pillar, workforce development, invests in human capital to foster meaningful careers, create systems of economic mobility, build talent pipelines for Georgia employers, and boost connectivity. The flagship program is the Workforce for Tomorrow Fellowship (WFT), a first-of-its-kind program where participants are immersed in six-month rotations in the public and private sectors in key growth sectors, such as sustainability and infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, and logistics.

 

With increased funding from the state and corporate partners, the Partnership anticipates significant growth of all programs over the next year. The plan is to fund at least $2.8 million in projects, double the number of students who participate in the SCC, and provide more applied, multidisciplinary research around Georgia.

 

“I’m honored to be part of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation and to help define Georgia as a national leader in technology research, development, and implementation,” said Reed Dulany, a Partnership advisory board member and president and CEO of Dulany Industries. “I look forward to seeing the long-term impact that the Partnership will make across Georgia in the future.”

 

About the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation:

Launched in 2020, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation is a public-private organization that was created to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the leader for innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success. The Partnership’s focus pillars of community research, workforce development, student engagement, and economic opportunity are a powerful combination that provide technical and financial support to democratize innovation through collaboration. Since 2020, the Partnership’s work has catalyzed 30+ projects with local governments, universities, startups and nonprofits. The projects have created new businesses, increased access to financial and social capital, and deployed more than 170 technologies. More information is available at pingeorgia.org.

Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech Launches Center for MedTech Excellence

Center to provide expertise in concept-to-commercialization of medical device technologies that can compete globally and improve the human condition

 

ATLANTA — The Center for MedTech Excellence, created to support and address the unique needs of early-stage medical device technologies, launched today with its first cohort of early-stage biotech companies.

 

Housed in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and funded by a federal grant, the Center will provide expertise in product realization, technology, medical device manufacturing, biotechnology, life science, and therapeutic innovations to early-stage entrepreneurs.

 

It is a collaborative effort of two Enterprise Innovation Institute programs — the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) — and the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), a Georgia Tech affiliate.

 

Nakia Melecio, founding director of the Center for MedTech Excellence

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the life science, medical device, therapeutic space, and what I saw was great programming,” said the Center’s Founding Director Nakia Melecio. “But there wasn’t any programming focused on taking companies from idea all the way to commercialization and including everything in between. There are a lot of accelerators and incubators, but none are focused, like we are, solely on developing, growing, and building life science companies.”

 

With its home in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, it was natural to partner with ATDC, GaMEP, and GCMI, says Melecio. “Georgia MEP, with its focus on manufacturing, can help companies navigate manufacturing strategy. GCMI’s expertise in the medical technology industry can help on the clinical side. While ATDC will be home to ScaleUp Lab, MedTech’s incubator.”

 

Georgia boasts a robust and growing medical technology and health ecosystem with metro Atlanta being a national leader in health information technology, vaccine research, clinical trials, and medical device development.

 

The state is also home to the CDC, the American Cancer Society, the Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, and the Medical College of Georgia.

 

The Center, joining that network of resources, will support the sector’s continued expansion and job growth in the state, Melecio said.

 

“The MedTech Center supports and empowers innovators across a broad life-sciences and healthcare range to produce and accelerate the delivery of life-saving health and wellness solutions to people worldwide.”

 

The Center’s mission, he noted, is aligned with Georgia Tech’s goal to “develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.”

 

Supported by a $3 million Economic Development Administration Build to Scale grant, the Center will provide services at no cost to clients, who must be developing medical devices for human or animal use. They must be located in Georgia and intending to grow their employment in the state.

 

During the 16-week program, the Center will provide services to the cohort companies, including coaching/mentoring, capital raising, financial literacy, networking, site selection, cybersecurity, production scaling, product design, and development processes. There are 17 companies in the inaugural cohort.

 

The Center also includes Scaleup Lab, an incubator for developing and startup companies to catalyze growth and enhance research and development by introducing companies to industry leaders, delivering entrepreneurial programs, and providing a capital-efficient, flexible stage to convert today’s scientific discoveries into tomorrow’s breakthrough healthcare solutions. The accelerator classes will include eight to 12 companies that have been recruited, qualified, and advised by the Center’s expert network.

 

A second program, MedTech Center Health Innovation Hub: Life Science MedTech, is designed for science and healthcare companies seeking growth funding and connections to experts and strategic partners for product development and expansion. Through this program, select Scaleup Lab companies are matched with a personal team tasked with advising on the company’s next growth stage. The year-long, virtual program features presentations from advisors and investors on topics such as biotechnology, healthcare, and hospital systems; medical devices and diagnostics; therapeutics; pharmaceuticals; rare diseases; and consumer healthcare.

 

“I see the MedTech Center as a support and addition to the current life sciences and entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Melecio said. “It’s a place for businesses to get everything from customized program content to grant and investor support, all geared specifically toward life science companies.”

 

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.

 

About ATDC

The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the state of Georgia’s technology startup incubator. Founded in 1980 by the Georgia General Assembly, which funds it each year, ATDC’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs in Georgia to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in the creation of viable, disruptive technology companies. Since its founding, ATDC has grown to become one of the longest running and most successful university-affiliated incubators in the United States, with its graduate startup companies raising $3 billion in investment financing and generating more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia. To learn more, visit atdc.org.

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership 

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, whose purpose is to enhance global competitiveness for Georgia manufacturers. Each year, GaMEP offers coaching and training to more than 700 manufacturers across the state to help increase top-line growth, reduce bottom-line costs, and boost the economic well-being of Georgia. To learn more, visit gamep.org.

 

About Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI)

GCMI’s mission is to bring new medical technologies to market that improve quality-based outcomes and delivery of care for patients worldwide. To learn more, visit gcmiatl.com.

 

For media inquiries, contact Péralte C. Paul, 404.316.1210, peralte.paul@comm.gatech.edu

 

For information about the Center for MedTech Excellence, contact Nakia Melecio,  678.478.2422, nakia.melecio@innovate.gatech.edu

Economic Development Administration Awards Georgia Tech $65 Million for AI Manufacturing Project

Largest grant ever awarded to a Georgia Tech-led coalition of partners to drive Build Back Better initiatives

ATLANTA — The Georgia Institute of Technology has been awarded a $65 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support a statewide initiative that combines artificial intelligence and manufacturing innovations with transformational workforce and outreach programs. The grant will increase job and wage opportunities in distressed and rural communities, as well as among historically underrepresented and underserved groups.

 

The Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Technology Corridor (GA-AIM) effort is one of 21 winning projects the White House announced today under the Biden administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The award follows a $500,000 Phase 1 feasibility grant the project received in 2021.

 

 

“Georgia Tech is honored to lead this vision of collaborative innovation and economic development across all regions of our state,” said Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera. “This award underscores the Institute’s commitment to leverage our resources and expertise to address great challenges, serve our state and nation, and amplify our impact on the world.”

 

The selected awardees represent projects in 24 states with grant amounts ranging from $25 million to $65 million.

 

“As we invest and grow critical industries in the U.S., we want to create industry hubs in diverse communities across the country,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “These grants will provide critical and historic funding directly to community coalitions to invest in new infrastructure, research and development, and workforce development programs while creating good-paying jobs, supporting workers, and prioritizing equity.”

 

Members of the Georgia AIM team (from left) Georgia White, David Bridges, Donna Ennis, Burunda Prince, and Aaron Stebner listen as President Joe Biden discusses the funding award to Georgia Tech and its partners. (PHOTO: Peralte C. Paul)

The GA-AIM project is led by Aaron Stebner, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering; 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; and Thomas R. Kurfess, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute.

 

“The ability to integrate our discoveries and innovations here at the AI Manufacturing Pilot Facility with novel workforce programs and transformative outreach experiences is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something greater in ways that increase opportunity and prosperity for all Georgians,” Stebner said. “Through an equitable AI manufacturing innovation focus, the assembled coalition of partners and stakeholders across the state will build a more prosperous and resilient Georgia and set a nation-leading example.”

 

The AI Manufacturing Pilot Facility, which will allow for government and industry pilot trials, cybersecurity games, and workforce training for AI manufacturing technologies, is just one component of Georgia Tech’s support for the project.

 

Two of Georgia Tech’s commercialization programs — VentureLab and I-Corps South — will create a center for the commercialization of AI manufacturing technologies into local and regional startups through training built on the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps curriculum.

 

The Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, will engage in focused outreach and technical assistance to small- and mid-sized manufacturers and minority business enterprises through its Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) and Georgia MBDA Business Center programs. Other Enterprise Innovation Institute programs include the Economic Development Lab, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, and ATDC, which will focus on outreach and engagement in distressed and underserved parts of the state, create workforce development programs, implementation strategies, and attract outside investment.

 

“The work that we will accomplish with our broad spectrum of partners in this new endeavor will leverage the latest technology in artificial intelligence to grow and strengthen our workforce ensuring that the growing manufacturing sector in Georgia has the skilled workforce that it requires for today’s as well as tomorrow’s needs,” Kurfess said. “At the same the high paying and secure jobs will be going to a very diverse population base from across the state, providing an equitable robust future for all citizens of Georgia.”

 

Georgia Tech’s Supply Chain & Logistics Institute will study the impact of automation technologies, build automation solutions tailored for rural manufacturers, and create programs that lower the barrier for rural manufacturers’ access to use the AI Manufacturing Pilot Facility.

 

Finally, Georgia Tech’s K-12 InVenture Prize and Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing programs will expand their emphasis to rural and underserved areas of the state by piloting a rural regional event with a region-specific prize. They will also create supplemental lessons centered on AI and data science that will be part of a K-12 InVenture Prize curriculum website.

 

“We are excited to be a part of this collaborative effort to catalyze research and innovation in AI and manufacturing across the state of Georgia,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, executive vice president for Research at Georgia Tech. “This project aligns with our goals to expand economic opportunity in our state’s underserved communities, and to serve as a collaborative hub for interdisciplinary research that advances technology and improves people’s lives.”

 

Georgia Tech is working with a coalition of statewide partners to create a foundation that supports existing business growth and new business ventures across the state especially in underserved communities and rural Georgia.

 

“All across the state of Georgia, our programs in the Enterprise Innovation Institute work hard to unlock potential and foster economic opportunity for all, particularly in underserved and marginalized communities,” said David Bridges, vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and co-author of the grant proposal with Stebner. “This project leverages what we and our partners each do best to help achieve our broader Georgia AIM goals.”

 

Tech’s partners include the:

 

“What’s really special about this effort is that it’s centered on a wholistic approach with innovation, not just one piece of AI or manufacturing,” Ennis said. “We’re working collectively statewide to transform and propel forward our industry, communities, and most importantly, our people.”

 

That collective approach is critical to GA-AIM’s success, said Houston County Development Authority Executive Director Angie Gheesling.

 

“The Development Authority and the 21st Century Partnership lead the Middle Georgia Innovation Project, which includes 11 counties in the Middle Georgia region, a diverse landscape of communities from rural to urban,” she said. “This award further facilitates the continuation of several years of collaboration between local leadership, our universities, private industry, and Robins Air Force Base to position ourselves as a Software Center of Excellence. We are grateful to Georgia Tech for the opportunity to partner and contribute to the overall future success of GA-AIM.”

 

Burunda Prince, chief operating officer of the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs, echoed those sentiments, saying its reach is exponentially amplified through the GA-AIM partnership.

 

The Center will create a mobile, 5,000-square-foot LaunchPad AI Innovation Studio to provide prototyping and proof-of-concept development of physical products. Black entrepreneurs in rural and urban Georgia will have access to equipment, training, and mentoring, and LaunchPad AI will also be open to AI InVenture teams from Atlanta’s urban K-12 schools.

 

As part of the Build Back Better grant, the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs will help Black businesses leverage the benefits of artificial intelligence to provide better data and insights that will build stronger companies and drive greater wealth generation,” Prince said. “What makes this opportunity unique is the cross collaboration of partners which will engage and empower communities across Georgia through access to technologies that often are inaccessible.”

 

Equally as important is the education component and the ability for it to be a bridge to new skills and opportunities for Georgia workers, said Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Greg Dozier.

 

“The funding for the project will equip four TCSG colleges with state-of-the-art manufacturing studios that will showcase the clean, safe state of modern manufacturing,” Dozier said. “Automation in manufacturing creates a demand for more skilled jobs, giving TCSG the charge to strengthen the workforce pipeline by training Georgians in these exciting, new technologies. The Georgia AIM project provides the funding to meet these opportunities head on.”

 

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

 

About the Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is a top 10 public research university developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its nearly 44,000 students representing 50 states and 149 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.