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    Georgia Institute of Technology Collaborates with Morehouse College and PRENEURology Global to Boost Minority Innovation in Metro Areas

    Initiative is part of a federal push to strengthen entrepreneurship, growth, and sustainability for minority business owners across the Southeast.

     

    The Georgia Institute of Technology has partnered with Morehouse College and PRENEURology Global to launch the Southeast Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Growth Hub to serve entrepreneurs and innovators in eight southeastern states.

     

    The two-year pilot is funded by a $1.4 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Commerce MBDA to establish a collaborative support network for minority entrepreneurs in the Hub, which, along with Georgia, includes Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

     

    The Southeast MBDA Business Growth Hub will be a valuable resource for programs serving minority business enterprises (MBEs). As a pilot effort, it could serve as a model yielding sustainable economic wealth for minority entrepreneurs in other regions of the country. (For more information about the Hub, please visit: businessgrowthhub.gatech.edu.)

     

    Led by the Atlanta MBDA Centers at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the Southeast MBDA Business Growth Hub will operate virtually and in-person as a regional, blended network of entrepreneur spaces, education pathways, and engagement programs. The Hub will also serve as an access point to corporations, financing, and other government programs. This cohesive, blended network will foster MBE participation in ecosystems. It is designed to overcome the limited participation of minorities in local innovation ecosystems while giving them access to a broader regional network of connections, experiences, and expertise in the eight-state region.

     

    The Hub will operate as a collective partnership of the Atlanta MBDA Centers, Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the Morehouse Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC), and PRENEURology Global.

     

    Donna Ennis Headshot

    Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F., is EI2's director of diversity engagement and program development.

    “The goal of the Hub is to connect the ecosystems throughout the Southeast in a way that will provide greater access for all MBEs and entrepreneurs regardless of the stage of their business,” said Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F, EI2 director of diversity engagement and program development and the Atlanta MBDA Centers. “We realized while there are highly effective ecosystems throughout the Southeast, minority entrepreneurs often struggle with making viable, long-term connections to enable the acceleration of their products and services to the market.”

     

    ATDC, Georgia Tech’s statewide technology incubator, will host the MBDA@ATDC to attract technology startups and innovators with diverse backgrounds to the program. “The Hub is designed to enhance the reach of services available to entrepreneurs of color by connecting nodes or services like ours together in a more dynamic way through broader regional connections,” said John Avery, ATDC director. “This gives us an opportunity to enhance ATDC’s presence in communities of color while bringing our access to resources and expertise.”

     

    The Morehouse Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC) at Morehouse College will help the Hub identify minority-serving institutions (MSIs) — Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other institutions of higher education with predominantly Latino or other minority populations — that have programs and resources aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and building wealth for people of color. “We will form a Southeast cluster of MSI innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems to connect and stimulate the growth of each MSI, said Tiffany Bussey, DBA, executive director of the MIEC. “This partnership will further help us accelerate entrepreneurship among students and faculty at MSIs.”

     

    PRENEURology Global will establish the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Pathways for new relationships within and among MBEs, collective workspaces (traditional and non-traditional hubs), state, regional, and local governments, corporate partners, financing resources, and accelerators/incubators. This approach will create an integrated network of resources to help MBEs grow and scale their businesses. “We’re seeing a lot of business activity in these ecosystems but there is lack of connectivity,” said Le’Kiesha French, CEO of PRENEURology Global, “Our goal is to create more efficiency by eliminating barriers of access to opportunities and resources within the Southeast region for Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) business entrepreneurs so they can experience equitable pathways to starting and growing their businesses.”

     

    About the Atlanta MBDA Centers
    As part of a national network of over 40 centers and special projects, the Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers help MBEs access capital, increase profitability, and scale their businesses. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, the Atlanta MBDA Centers are part 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, visit mbdabusinesscenter-atlanta.org.

     

    About the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)
    The Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech is a startup incubator that helps technology entrepreneurs in Georgia launch and grow successful companies. ATDC is one of the oldest and most successful research university-affiliated incubators in the United States and was named by Forbes as one of the "Top 12 Business Incubators Changing the World.” Founded in 1980, ATDC has fostered innovation and economic development by graduating more than 150 companies, which together have raised over $2 billion in outside financing. To learn more about ATDC, visit atdc.org.

     

    About Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC)
    MIEC is a global model for higher education and industry collaborations to foster innovation and entrepreneurial leadership by promoting local and regional economic growth and development with people of color on and off-campus. The Center was established as a unit of Morehouse College in 2004 and has secured grants and contracts worth more than $20 million, impacted over 2,100 students, partnered with more than 17 large mentoring corporations, and assisted over 120 technology growth companies nationwide. The MIEC also serves as the lead institution in the JP Morgan Chase Small Business Forward Ascend Atlanta program, where it has accelerated 80+ minority tech startups over the past three years and helped them raise more than $5.5 million in funding. Visitmcecenter.com for more details.

     

    About PRENEURology Global
    As a Social Enterprise serving entrepreneurs around the world, PRENEURology Global has worked with organizations, educational institutions, corporations, and government agencies across the globe for more than 15 years, to support emerging innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems through a human-centered approach. With its team of bilingual professionals (English and Spanish), PRENEURology revolutionizes mindsets within communities at risk by empowering people with tools for innovation and economic growth. For more information, visit preneurology.org.

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    Donna Ennis Named EI2 Director of Diversity Engagement and Program Development
    Donna Ennis Headshot

    Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F., is EI2's director of diversity engagement and program development.

    The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the Georgia Institute of Technology’s chief economic development and growth arm, has named Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F., director of diversity engagement and program development.

     

    In this new role, Ennis will lead efforts to find funding and program opportunities, particularly those with a focus on underrepresented and underserved communities and organizations. As part of her responsibilities, Ennis will ensure that diversity and inclusion are part of each EI2 program’s mission.

     

    Ennis, who also serves as director of the Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business and Advanced Manufacturing centers, has been with Georgia Tech since 1992. Under her leadership, the two centers have assisted client companies secure more than $3.5 billion in contracts, financing, and sales and create or save more than 6,000 jobs.

     

    “I’m really encouraged and pleased with the development of this new role,” Ennis said. “It signals that Georgia Tech is committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion are  central to its mission and that of the Enterprise Innovation Institute.”

     

    Comprised of 11 programs, including the two Atlanta MBDA centers, EI2 is the oldest, largest, and most diverse university-based economic development and economic growth organization. With a history that spans more than 60 years, EI2 has expanded to serve innovative enterprises of all sizes in Georgia and beyond.

     

    EI2’s client portfolio includes pre-company, technology-focused entrepreneurs, startups, and existing businesses, as well as communities, governments, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

     

    “We have a wide variety of clients and focus areas from manufacturers and startups, to universities and minority-owned firms to municipal governments. Diversity and inclusion efforts need to be an integral part of our outreach, not only in terms of the types of clients we serve, but also in leveraging EI2’s resources toward bringing more diverse business relationships to Georgia Tech as a whole,” said David Bridges, EI2 interim vice president. “This furthers our overall economic development mission and mandate to serve all of Georgia and ensures we are reaching out to all of its communities.”

     

    For example, the U.S. Department of Commerce MBDA recently awarded EI2 a grant to launch the Southeast MBDA Inner City Innovation Hub. This initiative includes the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the EI2 program that serves as the state of Georgia’s technology incubator. “With ATDC serving as one of the major partners in the Hub, we now have two ATDC startup catalysts who are focused on ensuring that the minority business community is more engaged in ATDC,” Ennis said.

     

    She stressed the diversity and inclusion discussion is broader than race and gender. “It’s inclusive of people from rural Georgia, veterans, older citizens, the disabled, and members of the LGBT community, among others,” she said. It’s developing a culture where everyone is not only included but more importantly, are welcomed and feel like they belong.”

     

    One of Ennis’ current projects is participating in Tech’s Diversity and Inclusion in Procurement Working Group. “Initiatives like these are examples of the commitment Georgia Tech has made to diversity and inclusion in all areas of the Institute,” Ennis said.

     

    “As a leading higher education research institute, Georgia Tech has ensured that diversity and inclusion are part of it strategic mission. And as an employee who has seen Georgia Tech evolve in many ways over my 30-year career here, I must admit that it’s a really exciting time.”

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    Ready for the Smart(er) City: How Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) are Building the Future

    Malaika Rivers (left) is a partner with Lexicon Strategies. Debra Lam is managing director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech. They are co-authors of a report on CIDs called "Ready for the Smart(er) City: How Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) are Building the Future."

    A comprehensive report by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Lexicon Strategies shows CIDs are an important economic growth tool.

     

    Community Improvement Districts, or CIDs, are best known for being mechanisms commercial property owners and local governments use to beautify streetscapes or support infrastructure projects.

     

    But a new, comprehensive analysis of their use in Georgia finds CIDs have had significant impact in leveraging dollars and driving growth. The report was produced by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation program and its Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, in partnership with Lexicon Strategies. [Read the full report here: cidreport.com]

     

    Since the 1980s CIDs have become a competitive necessity in the growth of commercial centers and submarkets, the report’s authors said.

     

    "CIDs are now driving major infrastructure projects and providing community enhancements that are traditionally the purview of local government," said Malaika Rivers, a partner at Lexicon Strategies, and a co-author of the report. “But because CIDs are so effective at attracting additional resources, the commercial real estate owners and investors get more effective ways to manage and deliver projects and services important to their businesses."

     

    This report, which analyzed CID usage in metro Atlanta, marks the first time they have been evaluated for economic impact and ability to drive innovation. It also establishes a framework for comparing CIDs, a previously difficult task due to significant differences across the metro region.

     

    Among the report’s key findings:

    • Between 2005 and 2020, the number of CIDs in Georgia doubled to 34, with the most common driver being to attract funding and investment.
    • On average, every $1 spent by a CID generated $5 in outside funding.
    • Collectively, CIDs represented more than $16 billion in assessed value in 2019 and about $41 billion in fair market value.
    • CIDs are growing; about 89 percent of Georgia’s CIDs report plans to expand project and service offerings.
    • The public sector is playing a larger role in CID formation, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the ones created between 2010 and 2020.

    “Our findings show that Community Improvement Districts are not only crucial for traditional infrastructure, but also to the advancement of smart cities applications on future infrastructure,” said Debra Lam, co-author and director of the Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation (SCI2) program at Georgia Tech. SCI2’s mission is to develop innovative approaches to help build resilient and sustainable communities. It is an offering of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private collaborative effort that launched in 2020 to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the technology capital of the East Coast.

     

    With nearly three dozen CIDs currently in operation in metro Atlanta, Lam said they lay the foundation for a thriving environment that supports a host of CID organizational models in a wide variety of commercial product types, from Class-A office to dense industrial centers.

     

    “CIDs are and will continue to be a driving force in innovation,” Lam said.

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    T-Mobile, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab Team Up to Fuel 5G Innovation in Drones, Autonomous Vehicles, Robotics, and More

    New 5G Connected Future incubator program will support growth and development of 5G entrepreneurs and startups.

     

    Outside picture of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

    Curiosity Labs at Peachtree Corners is home to the 5G Connected Future incubator that will be managed by Georgia Tech's Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).

    The new 5G incubator is located in the city of Peachtree Corners’ 500-acre smart city technology park, a living lab powered by T-Mobile 5G where more than 8,000 people live or work. The facility features a 25,000 square foot Innovation Center and 3-mile autonomous vehicle test track. T-Mobile has deployed its Extended Range 5G and Ultra Capacity 5G network across the park enabling developers to build solutions in a real-world environment. Here developers will build and test new 5G use cases such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, industrial drone applications, mixed reality training and entertainment, remote medical care, personal health and fitness wearables, and more.

     

    “What a match-up! America’s leading 5G network, the brilliant minds of Georgia Tech and the most advanced living lab in the country — now that’s a powerhouse combination,” said John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging Technologies at T-Mobile. “We cannot wait to see the innovation that occurs as entrepreneurs and developers build the next big thing in 5G backed by these world-class resources.”

     

    Hedshot of ATDC Director John Avery

    John Avery is director of ATDC.

    The new incubator, managed in collaboration with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), is an expansion of the T-Mobile Accelerator and part of the Un-carrier’s efforts to fuel 5G innovation. T-Mobile supports numerous initiatives to help startups and entrepreneurs develop, test and bring to market groundbreaking new 5G products and services. T-Mobile Accelerator is an award-winning program founded in 2014 that originated in the smart city corridor of Kansas City.

    Companies participating in the 5G Connected Future program will work directly with technology and business leaders at T-Mobile Accelerator, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab as they build, test and bring to market new products and services that unleash the potential of T-Mobile 5G. ATDC is a globally recognized technology incubator. The 5G Connected Future vertical is the fourth of its kind at ATDC and follows other targeted programs in health, retail and financial technologies.

     

    “In addition to the normal startup concerns, entrepreneurs in the 5G space face a unique set of challenges such as regulatory issues at the state and local levels, network security, and integration testing,” said ATDC Director John Avery.

     

    Betsy Plattenburg

    Betsy Plattenberg is executive director of Curiosity Lab.

    ATDC brings a unique framework that combines its startup curriculum, coaching, connections, and community, as well as direct access to Georgia Tech resources, research expertise, and student talent, to help entrepreneurs learn, launch, scale, and succeed. In this effort, ATDC will offer programing, recruit and evaluate startups, and hire staff to manage the vertical in Peachtree Corners.

     

    “This collaboration is a great opportunity for ATDC and Georgia Tech, the city of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab, and T-Mobile, a Fortune 50 company, to create a unique collection to work with these companies, refine their ideas into scalable companies, and bring these solutions to market more quickly,” Avery said.

     

    Such a partnership underscores “Georgia Tech’s commitment to enabling tomorrow’s technology leaders, which remains as strong as when ATDC was founded 41 years ago,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research. “Innovation cannot take place in a vacuum, which is why entrepreneurs and startups require the knowledge and resources provided through partnerships such as ours.”

     

    “The City of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab continue to affirm our commitment to technology innovation through programs, partnerships and engagements with industry leaders such as T-Mobile and Georgia Tech,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab. “These two organizations were instrumental in the launch of Curiosity Lab and our continued collaboration will create opportunities for the next-generation of intelligent mobility and smart city entrepreneurs.”

     

    T-Mobile 5G, A Platform for Innovation
    T-Mobile is America’s 5G leader, with the fastest and largest nationwide 5G network. T-Mobile’s Extended Range 5G covers more than 280 million people across nearly 1.6 million square miles – more geographic coverage than AT&T and Verizon combined. With Sprint now part of T-Mobile, the Un-carrier is widening its lead, using dedicated spectrum to bring customers with capable devices download speeds of around 300 Mbps and peak speeds up to 1 Gbps.

     

    With its supercharged 5G network as the foundation, T-Mobile is working to fuel 5G innovation and build the 5G ecosystem. The Un-carrier collaborates with universities and standards bodies to support 5G research and development.  In addition to running the award-winning T-Mobile Accelerator, it also operates the T-Mobile Ventures investment fund and is a co-founder of the 5G Open Innovation Lab.

     

    Startups interested in joining the 5G Connected Future program can apply here.

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    Inspire Invests in Engage to Further Fuel Innovation in Atlanta

    Inspire Brands announced that it will be joining Atlanta, Georgia-based Engage, a first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform. Founded in 2018, Inspire Brands, based in Sandy Springs, Georgia, is the the second-largest restaurant company in the United States and its holdings include Arby's, Dunkin Brands Group, Jimmy John's, and Sonic Drive-In.

     

    Engage — an offering of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the economic development arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology — brings together industry-leading corporations, enterprise startups, and universities with the shared mission of elevating Atlanta and the Southeast as a leading technology and innovation hub. Through Inspire’s investment, the company will collaborate with B2B enterprise technology startups, work with entrepreneurs in pursuit of industry-changing ideas, and participate in Engage’s bi-annual Enterprise Go-To-Market program.

     

    Paul Brown

    Paul Brown, Inspire Brands' CEO and co-founder.

    In addition to Inspire’s investment, Inspire CEO Paul Brown will join Engage’s board of directors, while the company’s chief growth officer, Christian Charnaux, has joined Engage’s advisory board.

     

    The company sees the partnership as an opportunity to collaborate with Engage and help its portfolio startups scale while propelling innovation at Inspire. "Atlanta has built a reputation as a city that successfully incubates companies and attracts talent, especially in the technology sector," Brown said. "Engage builds upon that reputation by bringing together early-stage ventures and established companies across Atlanta.”

     

    Engage Managing Director Daley Ervin noted how Inspire Brands will complement what the venture platform and its existing corporate partners are doing and propel efforts even further.

     

    Engage Managing Director Daley Ervin.

    “Inspire Brands enhances our industry coverage and helps our entrepreneurs access new markets in key industry verticals. By working closely with our corporate partners, we derive sourcing insights that allow us to invest in startups with an unmatched fit and applicability to their strategic and innovation roadmaps," Ervin said. "We’re very fortunate to have partners like Inspire Brands, which leads its industry and is truly leaning in from the executive suite on down.”

     

    Engage is strengthening corporate innovation and venture capital by introducing a collaborative venture investment model for corporations. “Adding Inspire Brands, the nation’s second-largest restaurant company, as a partner firm helps bring more disruptive startups in food service and customer experience verticals to Engage,” said Marty Flannagan, president and CEO of Invesco, and chairman of the Engage Board of Directors.

     

    “Executives and senior leaders in our partnership will also benefit from the Inspire team’s unique insights in building long-term brands with rewarding customer experiences. This will further enhance the connective tissue between Atlanta’s ecosystem of startups, corporations, and universities — strengthening the virtuous cycle of attracting more disruptive startups across the board to the Southeast and further establishing Atlanta as an innovation hub.”

     

    In addition to Inspire, Engage’s partners are AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, The Home Depot, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Invest Georgia, Tech Square Ventures, and UPS. The Engage Fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures. Engage’s exclusive partnership with Georgia Tech, one of the country’s top research and technology commercialization universities, provides unique access to its startup, innovation, and research initiatives.

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