The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the Georgia Institute of Technology’s the economic development arm, hosted a delegation of 12 technology companies from Argentina, as part of a multi-city tour to study successful innovation ecosystems.
The 2018 Argentina IT Commercial Mission to Atlanta’s Sept. 18 visit, sponsored by the Consulate General of Argentina and the Argentine American Chamber of Commerce, is designed to give insight into the Atlanta economy and as part of the 12 companies’ longer-term goal of establishing U.S. operations, said Argentina Consul General Jorge Luis Lopez Menardi.
“They’re looking for places to come and explore the possibilities of doing business,” Lopez Menardi said. “We thought the best place for them to come especially regarding an IT mission would be to come to Georgia Tech. The prestige of the university, the talent and the innovation they are promoting from here, we decided the best place to hold the mission would be here.”
While on campus, the group met with Juli Golemi, manager of the Soft Landings Program at EI2.
Soft Landings, launched in 2018, is a Georgia Tech offering — through its Economic Development Lab (EDL) — that helps foreign companies that want to establish or increase their business operations in Georgia or better understand the U.S. economy. EDL helps communities and organizations apply innovative ideas to economic development in business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.
Soft Landings, Lopez Menardi said, offers what the visiting companies need as they explore doing business in Atlanta and the United States. The group, which includes companies in financial technology, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and gaming, wants to “get to know the environment, how to do business here, and how companies procure here,” Lopez Menardi said, adding they will use what they learn on this fact-finding trip to better prepare them for possible U.S. expansion and connections with American companies.
“They will want to build top from that and come up again with a specific plan of business to offer different companies,” he said, adding the group, which will visit Tech’s incubator, the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), will also visit Chicago to learn about its innovation ecosystem.
In a panel discussion that included Mary Waters, deputy commissioner of international trade at the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Fernanda Yanson, a foreign trade consultant with the Argentina Investment and International Trade Agency; Lopez Menardi, and Golemi, attendees learned about the different components of Georgia’s successful ecosystem.
Among those components: strong public and private partnerships between state government and industry, a friendly business climate, inter-state agency collaboration, unique assets such as Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and economic diversification, Waters said.
“Georgia’s economy is very diverse. We’re strong in agribusiness, we’re strong in aerospace, logistics, medical technologies, ICT, and automotive,” she said.
Underscoring that success model is technology, Waters said, noting the construction boom in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood and how Georgia Tech plays a critical role in that innovation-driven growth and expansion.
“Home Depot, Anthem, Delta Air Lines, Mercedes-Benz — they’re all creating innovation certners here in Atlanta and here in Georgia to take advantage of the Georgia Tech talent that we have. Those are companies and expansions that were not on our radar 10 years ago that now underpin the heart and soul of the Atlanta economy and Georgia’s economy,” Waters said.
“Whether you’re talking about automation technology in the manufacturing space or whether you’re talking about tech in agriculture and agribusiness, or innovation in the development of new technologies that will change the world, Georgia is very much in the heart of that and it gets to the heart of what you’re going to hear from Juli and the rest of Georgia Tech and from the private companies you will meet.”