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    Partnership for Inclusive Innovation Hits One-Year Milestone

    Public-private initiative drives economic opportunity across Georgia

     

    A year ago, a coalition composed of the State of Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the civic and corporate sector, launched an ambitious plan to advance innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success across the state, positioning it as the tech capital of the East Coast.

     

    The City of Savannah in collaboration with the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, is exploring applications of emerging data analytics and machine learning techniques to leverage existing city data to guide decisions on the best strategy to deal with vacant and blighted properties in the community.

    September was a one-year milestone for the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private organization charged with implementing that plan through the three pillars of community research, student engagement, and economic opportunity.

     

    “Our charge was to support existing hubs of innovation, nurture promising leaders and entrepreneurs, especially from communities not often included in this discussion, and invest in the most promising and scalable technology-driven, community-based solutions,” said Debra Lam, the Partnership’s executive director. “What’s really exciting is seeing how our efforts in this first year are yielding tangible results that position Georgia to achieve inclusion one innovation at a time.”

     

    The Partnership is supported with funding from the State of Georgia, a blue chip roster of some of the country’s largest corporations, strategic partners, and Georgia Tech, which also is providing administrative oversight. The Partnership already has 15 project sites across nine economic development regions and deployed more than 140 technologies. Public engagement and knowledge transfer remain core components of the Partnership’s offerings, with nearly 700 attendees in events and active digital communications, including monthly newsletters.

     

    The areas of focus and the Partnership’s impact over the past year are reflected in three flagship programs.

     

    Innovate for All: To scale economic opportunity, Innovate for All funds and supports proven programs, services, and technologies created by Georgia's innovators. In the past year, it funded the Georgia Mesh Network and the Working Farm Fund.

     

    • The Georgia Mesh Network: Augusta’s theClubhou.se is piloting the statewide network with Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, and Savannah to offer skills training and certification to historically disadvantaged and underserved entrepreneurs. It is backed with the commitment of 21 capital partners to support entrepreneurs who graduate from the program.

     

    • The Working Farms Fund: Through the Conservation Fund, this effort is committed to the preservation of local farms that are increasingly falling victim to the pressures of rising costs, low margins, and corporate consolidation, which stresses the food supply chain. The fund, which is at the forefront of advocating for a healthier and more resilient food supply chain, secured $1 million in additional funding, acquired two farms: a certified organic produce farm in Mansfield, and a 21.2-acre farm composed of 15 immigrant and refugee smallholder farms in Conyers.

     

    Smart Community Corps: This summer program, supported by Microsoft, pairs students — from any Georgia college or university, any year and major — together to work on Partnership projects. Though experiential learning and public service, students can effectively advance technology and practice innovation by living and working with the communities. The 2021 cohort of students from Georgia Tech, Morehouse College, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Valdosta State, logged 5,280 hours on their projects, which ranged from addressing blight in Savannah to traffic monitoring in Valdosta, to smart pedestrian planning in Clayton County.

     

    Georgia Smart Community Challenge (GA Smart): Now in its fourth year, with 16 community projects, the program allows localities across the state to apply for research assistance that empowers them to envision, explore, and plan for a smart future. The 2021 cohort includes the cities of Woodbury and Concord, and Pike and Spalding counties. This cohort will work with Georgia Tech researchers to expand and enhance connectivity and explore additional applications that will improve their services, efficiencies, and cost savings.

     

    The Partnership is expected to support $2.88 million of programming this coming year across the state. It maintains its lean operations model through key partners at Jabian Consulting, Brand Culture, Jackson Spalding, and Kilpatrick Townsend. “While the Partnership has advanced much in its first year, we look forward to ongoing progress and growth utilizing innovation and technology to service Georgia today and tomorrow,” Lam said.

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    U.S. Department of Labor Awards Worker Safety Health Training Grant to Georgia Tech

    Institute is one of 37 recipients of newly available grants focused
    on stopping spread of infectious disease, including Covid-19.

     

    Sean Castillo is an industrial hygienist with the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program in Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute. He is the project lead on an OSHA grant awarded to Georgia Tech to provide Covid-19 training sessions to employers and workers in the long-term healthcare and mortuary industries.

    The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is awarding more than $6.7 million in grants to 37 nonprofit organizations and universities nationwide, including the Georgia Institute of Technology.

     

    The grants will be used to fund education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus health hazards, and identify preventive measures for a safe workplace. In addition to hazard control, the training will include understanding workers’ rights and employer responsibilities under the OSHA Act of 1970.

     

    Georgia Tech’s award will provide 1-hour and 6.5-hour Covid-19 training sessions to 475 employers and workers in the long-term healthcare and mortuary industries, through its Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program. The SHES training will focus on infectious disease awareness and prevention. Existing materials will be used, and the training will be conducted in English and Spanish. Additionally, SHES will collaborate with University of Georgia professor Toni Miles to integrate stress management and bereavement skills and training materials to provide this work-group population the tools necessary to address the health implications of grief.

     

    Toni Miles is an epidemiology and biostatistics and health policy and management professor at the University of Georgia's College of Public Health. UGA is working with Geogia Tech to implement the OSHA-funded Covid-19 training program.

    “We are thankful to be included in this OSHA funding to advance awareness and understanding of disease risk and measures to take to mitigate exposure,” said SHES Director, Paul Schlumper. “A healthy and safe Georgia workplace environment is essential for employers and employees alike. This funding will be a critical part of our efforts in our continuous fight against the pandemic.”

     

    An offering of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, SHES provides a broad range of occupational safety and health training, consulting services, and academic education to organizations in Georgia and the Southeast. In 2020, the SHES group helped employers remove nearly 36,000 workers from workplace hazards. SHES staff also identified nearly 1,500 workplace hazards in 2020.

     

    The OSHA award includes “Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including the novel coronavirus” grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The grants derive from the Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training program, named in honor of the late Susan Harwood, former director of OSHA’s Office of Risk Assessment. In her 17-year OSHA career, she helped develop federal standards to protect workers from bloodborne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead in construction.

     

    The program funds grants made available to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor-management associations, colleges, and universities. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries. These grants are a critical element in supporting OSHA’s role in educating workers on their rights and assisting employers with providing safe workplaces.

     

    Learn more about the 2021 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program recipients.

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    Enterprise 6 Students Share Experiences in Working on Economic Development Projects

    Six Georgia Tech students spent the summer working on various economic development projects as embedded Enterprise 6 (E6) interns in the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).

     

    The six interns were selected from more than 200 students who applied for the slots for the inaugural internship cohort.

     

    The 13-week, paid internship was funded by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and open to all Tech undergraduate and graduate students.

     

    As Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, EI2 is comprised of a dozen programs across a host of sectors ranging from manufacturing and technology entrepreneurship, to minority business and community and regional planning and development.

     

    “We were really excited about this opportunity and grateful for the support from EVPR’s office,” said David Bridges, EI2’s interim vice president. “We had students from a variety of disciplines including industrial engineering and economics and city planning.

     

    “One of our goals with this was to show these students how they could use what they are learning in the classroom and the skills they are learning all have uses and applications in economic development.”

     

    The students worked on challenging projects that allowed them to use their skills and classroom learning and apply that to economic development initiatives.

     

    Mansi Mahajan, a graduate student studying quantitative and computational finance, interned with the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private effort launched in 2020 to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the technology capital of the East Coast.

     

    "We're building a fund for investing in social impact startups, so I developed the financial model for the process and how it would be forecasted and what the returns would be depending on our investments," she said. "I hadn't worked in the finance field as much as I did in this internship, so this I found very rewarding and it was a very great experience working with them."

     

    For Dylan Both, an economics major in the Ivan Allen College for Liberal Arts, the E6 opportunity was his first internship.

     

    Both worked with the Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR), which works with local communities, governments, and regional economic development organizations on a variety of initiatives, including impact analyses reports, strategic planning, and professional development.

     

    Both researched best practices that communities around the country developed following natural disasters to evaluate for a recovery and resilience plan being created for southwest Georgia.

     

    "Southwest Georgia suffered from Hurricane Michael and COVID. I was finding similar areas, similar regions that suffered from a natural disaster. And whatever best practices we learned from those, we gathered them up, chose which ones would be a good fit, and wrote about it," he said. "My favorite thing was doing actual meaningful work."

     

    See what all the students shared about their experiences as E6 interns:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Honeywell Joins Atlanta-Based Engage to Help City Grow as a Leading Innovation Hub

    Honeywell Connected Enterprise President and CEO Que Dallara joins Engage’s Board of Directors.

     

    Honeywell announced today it has joined Atlanta-based Engage, a collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform that is dedicated to promoting the city as a technology hub. Honeywell Connected Enterprise is based in Midtown Atlanta and is one of the city’s leading businesses in the enterprise software industry.

     

    Honeywell and other leading Atlanta companies in Engage are helping high-growth startups accelerate their enterprise go-to-market strategies through collaboration with Fortune 500 organizations. As an Engage partner, Honeywell will work with entrepreneurs who are developing new business ideas and participate in its bi-annual Enterprise Go-To-Market program. Additionally, getting plugged into this innovation ecosystem will create experiences for Honeywell employees to advance their entrepreneurial capability and gain exposure to leading innovators, top researchers, and ambitious startup founders.

     

    "Honeywell is proud to call Atlanta home for our software business, and we share a common goal with Engage in helping businesses grow through new technology,” said Que Dallara, president and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise. “We believe this is an important partnership to assist organizations here and in the surrounding region as Atlanta rapidly expands as an innovation hub.”

     

    In addition to Honeywell Connected Enterprise’s investment into the Engage Venture Fund that is managed by Tech Square Ventures to support the Engage program, Dallara will join Engage’s board of directors. Usman Shuja, vice president and general manager of Connected Buildings, will become a member of the advisory board.

     

    “Honeywell is a leading innovator in enterprise software and brings valuable leadership, future-forward ideas, and strategic execution to Engage,” said Daley Ervin, Engage managing director. “We are looking forward to the expertise that Honeywell will bring to our network of senior executives and entrepreneurs working together in the pursuit of industry-changing technology.”

     

    “Supporting startups and entrepreneurs through Engage is an opportunity for Honeywell to invest in Atlanta’s innovation ecosystem,” Shuja said. “By advising and partnering with some of nation’s newest transformative companies, we aspire to help them become well positioned for long-term growth. We believe the success of these new startups will strengthen the city’s international leadership as a center for innovation, particularly in the software and technology industries.”

     

    By partnering with Engage, startups and entrepreneurs gain fresh insights to help them better achieve their strategic goals, understand new growth opportunities, and explore solutions to key business challenges. Engage also provides entrepreneurs with access to new customers and markets.

     

    “As a founding partner of the Engage program, Georgia-Pacific is pleased to see the continued commitment by leading enterprises to work with startups and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Engage board member Jim Hannan, Koch Industries executive vice president and CEO-Enterprises. “With Honeywell joining the platform, Engage will further accelerate its mission of strengthening corporate connectivity and fueling economic development across Atlanta and the Southeast.”

     

    About Honeywell
    Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) is a Fortune 100 technology company that delivers industry-specific solutions that include aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings and industry; and performance materials globally. Our technologies help aircraft, buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable. For more news and information on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywell.com/newsroom.

     

    About Engage
    Based in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square, Engage is a first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform where category-leading corporations in the Southeast have joined forces to support startups building the future of enterprise. Engage 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, Inspire Brands, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Invest Georgia, Tech Square Ventures, UPS, and Wellstar Health System. The Engage Fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures. As an affiliate of Georgia Tech, a top 10 public research technology and commercialization university, Engage has direct access to Tech's startup, innovation, and research initiatives. Learn more about Engage at engage.vc.

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    Partnership for Inclusive Innovation Announces 2021 Cohort of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge

    Complementing federal and state efforts, incoming cohort class will focus on community connectivity.

     

    The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (PIN) announced the four communities selected for its 2021 Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (GA Smart), which allows localities across the state to apply for research assistance that empowers them to envision, explore, and plan for a “smart” future.

     

    The 2021 cohort includes the cities of Woodbury and Concord, and Pike and Spalding counties. As GA Smart communities, the cohort will work with researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology to expand and enhance connectivity and explore additional applications that will improve their services, efficiencies, and cost savings. The community connectivity focus for this cohort aims to link them with the resources they need to pilot relevant smart solutions within the two-year GA Smart program.

     

    • The City of Woodbury: Woodbury has employed an innovative Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) network as a publicly owned utility, serving 50 community members. Georgia Tech researchers will assist in the enhancement and expansion of the WISP network by exploring measurement-driven dashboards for evaluating the end-user experience. They will also explore connectivity needs for the proposed Meriwether County AgTech Center for Innovation (MACI).
    • The City of Concord: With a network similar to Woodbury’s, city representatives and Georgia Tech researchers will work together to advance connectivity in the city through further testing, evaluation, and community engagement. They will look to address challenges to wireless networks such as geographic terrain, natural foliage, and adoption rates. Tech researchers will also help Concord explore connectivity applications such as having water sensors available in public facilities for operational efficiency and potential cost savings.
    • Pike County: As infrastructure investments are often driven by an intersection of cost and functionality, Tech will help Pike administrators analyze technologies to improve connectivity countywide, including exploring different broadband options to identify solutions that are both cost effective and reliable for consumers.
    • Spalding County: Believing that access to the internet is a driver of economic development, officials want to identify methods to increase broadband access in the area.  Many internet service providers are unable or unwilling to provide access to households or businesses that are separated from other connections by acres or miles. Tech researchers will provide Spalding leaders with perspective on technology hardware and software options that will meet the county’s needs, as well as evaluate the current status of connectivity and how to improve it.

    “Communities experiencing gaps in connectivity across the state of Georgia have sought creative solutions to bridge them, and still more communities are seeking answers about how to get connected,” said Debra Lam, executive director of PIN. “This cohort has taken steps toward being innovative in a collaborative way. By providing research services to these neighboring communities with established relationships and an interest in coordinating connectivity efforts across city and county borders, GA Smart can make a regional impact and follow the natural expansion of these services across the area. This placemaking opportunity allows communities to plan together, avoid redundancies, and accomplish more collectively.”

     

    The cohort will be working with researchers from Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, including professor Ellen Zegura, the Stephen Fleming Chair in Telecommunications, and associate professor Ada Gavrilovska.

     

    “The pandemic has made it clear that dependable access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” said Ángel Cabrera, president of Georgia Tech. “At Georgia Tech, we believe in the power of technology to improve lives and communities, especially in our state, and we look forward to working with the winners of this year’s Georgia Smart Communities Challenge to achieve just that.”

     

    Meet the Communities 
    As the first city to be declared “Broadband Ready” by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in 2020, the City of Woodbury has pioneered a way forward for communities unserved by traditional broadband.

     

    “Meeting the needs of our ever-changing world requires diversity in thought and a willingness to move boldly into the future,” said City of Woodbury Mayor Steve Ledbetter. “Our goal is to push beyond the possible and be a part of leading our community and our state into the future.”

     

    “The pandemic underscores just how critical connectivity can be for a community’s economic well-being,” said City of Concord Mayor John Strickland. “Covid-19 made it clear that the internet is necessary for education, healthcare, and business, as well as access to important real-time information. We are fortunate to be geographically close to Woodbury, which introduced us to their service provider. Working together, small cities and counties can provide solutions that will serve more people at a lower cost.

     

    Brandon Rogers, Pike County manager, echoed those sentiments. “We want to serve the citizens of the community by ensuring options for broadband access in all areas of the county, so that no communities are left behind in the digital divide. We’re excited to be working with Georgia Tech as we seek out reliable sources for connectivity that can reach unserved areas of the county at an affordable price range for all of our residents and all of our municipalities.”

     

    Regional cooperation is a key differentiator, said Jessica Simmons, deputy chief information officer at the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA).

     

    “Pooling strategies and resource capabilities for connectivity to benefit the broader region complements the state’s initiative to promote broadband deployment in unserved parts of Georgia,” she said. “This regional effort builds exactly the kind of momentum we want to see in rural areas that lack high-speed internet access.”

     

    Since 2018, GA Smart has served 12 communities across the state of Georgia in a variety of projects, ranging from installing sea-level and traffic sensors to planning for connected vehicle technology. Alumni from the GA Smart program have successfully implemented their projects and garnered additional funding and technical assistance to continue their projects beyond the program period, continuing to service their residents and meet their community’s goals.

     

    The GA Smart program has facilitated community engagement across the state by hosting more than 40 community meetings, provided in excess of 140 technologies deployed in its funded projects, and provided research support that led to successful grant proposals, academic presentations, and publications.

     

    About the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation
    The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (PIN) is a public-private partnership that launched in 2020 to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the Technology Capital of the East Coast. Dedicated to advancing innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success across the state, the organization’s focus on community research, student engagement, and pilot programs — through its Innovate for ALL, Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, and Smart Community Corps — is a powerful combination that establishes Georgia as a living lab for inclusive innovation. Under the guidance of board Chairman G.P. Bud Peterson and Executive Director Debra Lam, the Partnership seeks to help foster access, growth, entrepreneurship, and innovation throughout the state. Visit pingeorgia.org.

     

    About Georgia Tech
    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 40,000 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.

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