EI2 Asks: A Primer on Placemaking

The Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR), a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, provides communities with the data and guidance they need to make smart economic development decisions. Alan Durham is a senior research faculty manager and the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) economic development course director at CEDR, and below he outlines some basics of a crucial – and often overlooked – element of economic development: placemaking.

A photograph of a man, Alan Durham
Alan Durham, a senior research faculty manager and the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) economic development course director at CEDR.

What is placemaking?
I’m going to start by giving an example of what placemaking isn’t. So, after World War II and the birth of suburbia, development in the United States became very generic, very homogenized, very cookie-cutter, and that has continued through today. If you drive I-75 to Florida, every exit ramp looks exactly the same, with the same fast-food chains, drug stores, grocery stores, and it’s the same in Georgia or Florida, Mississippi or Colorado.

Think about the old Dixie Highway before the Interstate system was built. That was a four-lane divided highway that everyone took to get to Florida, and there was a lot of character – you’d see, for example, local restaurants shaped like coffee pots. We call that roadside architecture. Think about Route 66 and all the crazy motels that looked like teepees. Some of the old Arby’s chain restaurants used to be shaped like cowboy hats. These things were interesting. They were unlike anywhere else. Our Interstate exits could be anywhere, and placemaking is about creating someplace unique.

What characteristics make a particular place appealing?
The heart of their history, and the heart of their character, is usually their historic downtown area, most of which were built in the 1890s through about 1920. That’s where you can find your local mom-and-pop restaurants, your local coffee shop, your pizza parlor that is not a chain. These places are unique, the architecture’s regionally unique – often tied to locally available materials – and your communities differ depending on who the local rich person was and what kind of buildings they wanted to build. You can look at different downtowns and feel like you’re actually somewhere, not just anywhere.

How is placemaking different from the common conception of economic development?
The traditional idea of economic development is business recruitment, retention, and expansion, and communities have been doing economic development through that lens for decades. But we have found that younger generations, especially millennials and Generation Z, don’t move to an area for a job. They move to an area because it’s where they want to live, and once they’re there, they look for a job.

We still do business recruitment, retention, and expansion, but we’re also starting to pay a lot more attention to placemaking to try to attract the younger generation of workers, and the key to attracting them is building a place where people want to live and businesses want to be. That’s my economic development focus: How can I help communities become extraordinary places that stand out from every other place in America? What unique assets make your community a special place that people want to live in?

What are some of the elements that younger generations prioritize?
Number one is the built environment. Historic buildings have a lot more character than a strip mall, so I help communities redevelop their historic downtowns. A lot of those areas are sitting there vacant and boarded up, and people really want that unique coffee shop with wood floors and huge windows. It’s not the same as a Starbucks drive-through.

Number two, it has to be walkable. People are tired of sitting in traffic and filling up their tank with expensive gas. They want to be able to walk somewhere, to bike somewhere – to walk downtown and have dinner at a pizza parlor, walk next door to an ice cream shop, and then afterward have a beer and see a live band.

To facilitate this, town centers need to introduce more residential buildings in walking distance to commercial offerings. The idea of keeping restaurants and retail on the ground floor but converting some of the vacant upper space to residential lofts is coming back in favor, because if you live in downtown, you’re likely to patronize those businesses. Retail follows rooftops.

Do you ever encounter pushback to the principles of placemaking?
You sometimes run into opposition against apartments and rental units. In all fairness, a lot of communities already have too much rental and they need to explore ways to encourage home ownership, and that could be addressed with new development, but rental is always going to be a part of a community. You want to make sure it’s kept in balance.

The second concern tends to be traffic. The worry is, “You can’t put all these residents in your downtown because you’re going to clog up the street with traffic.” But that’s not the case, because if you live downtown, you’re going to walk a block away to get your lunch. So you’re actually reducing traffic by increasing density in and around your historic downtown and central business district.

The best way that I have found to counter some of these false narratives is to show people what other communities have done. “Look – this community is successful and thriving and exciting. They’re attracting young people. This is the workforce of tomorrow. They want to live in this location – and, look, traffic isn’t a problem here.” If you build a place for cars, you’re going to get cars. If you build a place for pedestrians, you’re going to get people on foot.

What types of questions should communities who want to increase their desirability be asking themselves?
Whenever you do new construction in a historic neighborhood, you have to have design guidelines in place to make sure that the new construction is compatible with and complements the existing historic buildings. I’ve seen communities build an apartment complex that looks nothing like any of their historic brick buildings. Instead of becoming a part of their downtown, it’s now an eyesore. They might have gotten the location correct, but instead of creating a place by picking up some of the elements of the historic buildings, they end up missing the mark and destroying the character of their downtown.

So design guidelines are extremely important, and communities need to ensure that developers are building an asset to their community that will continue to contribute to its character for the next 50 years.

What kind of guidance can CEDR offer those communities?
If half your downtown is vacant and boarded up, it’s hard to know where to start. CEDR can go into these historic central business districts and give a community a road map. We show them what they could be versus what they are today, and we can give them step-by-step instructions to help them get from point A to point B.

That involves everything from architectural design to financing building restoration, identifying parking needs, helping them activate festivals, and creating downtown park space to hold small concerts. Every historic downtown is unique, so we go in and work with the community to help them make sure their historic downtown is an asset that attracts people and businesses.

What trends is CEDR noticing in Georgia?
One of the things that we have seen post COVID-19 is people who can work remotely are moving out of inner cities, and they’re not stopping at the suburbs. They’re going to exurbs and small towns, where property is cheaper and crime is less – and the communities that have already done an excellent job bringing back life into their historic downtowns are going to be the winners here. Placemaking helps set these communities aside as somewhere special with unique characteristics that are going to draw residents.

CEDR is hosting its annual Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC) August 26-29 in Atlanta. Can you give us a brief overview of that program?
The BEDC is the longest running basic economic development course in the nation; this is the 57th year that it’s been offered by Georgia Tech. They partner with IEDC, the International Economic Development Council, to put on this four-day course, which covers a wide variety of economic development subjects, from real estate redevelopment to business recruitment. We do marketing and promotion. We do ethics in finance. The people who take the course are usually new to the economic development industry, and the BEDC gives them a very deep and thorough overview of what to expect in their economic development careers.

Every year I’ve taught it, the BEDC has been about placemaking, creating a place where people want to live and businesses want to be. Right now, too many people live where they do because they have to, not because they want to. Smaller communities should look around and figure out what makes them special, because they need to capitalize on their unique assets if they’re going to be a population winner in the future.

Register for the 57th annual BEDC here.

Mesh Medical Shapes: A Soft Landing Success Story

ATLANTA — When David Calle enrolled in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Soft Landing program, it was with the intention of reaching a new customer base in the U.S. But he never expected that to happen quite so quickly.

a photo of a man standing in front of an interior wall
David Calle, founder of Mesh Medical Shapes, visits the Enterprise Innovation Institute offices in Atlanta.

Calle — a product engineer who founded the Medellín, Colombia, company Mesh Medical Shapes in 2018 — had been referred to the program by two different sources: the Medellín Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, which is a project of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, and Luis Restrepo, CEO of Crystal S.A.S and a member of the Advisory Board of the President of Georgia Tech. CES University in Medellín also partnered with Mesh to support Calle’s business goals. Calle decided to take the course himself in fall 2023.

Specifically designed to assist those who are interested in expanding a foreign business into the U.S., the Soft Landing program offers a strong foundation that includes hard research, guidance, and networking, conducted through virtual and in-person instruction modules. In addition to receiving guidance on best practices and navigating national regulations, participants also come away with a nuanced understanding of the American customer mindset.

Since its launch in 2018, Soft Landing has collaborated with 22 companies, and 15 of those have expanded into the U.S. The latest among them is Calle’s company, which designs and fabricates precision dental simulators for student practice. “We accomplished our first sale in the U.S.,” Calle said in April 2024. “We finished Soft Landing about six months ago, and we just closed the deal.”

Mesh’s first export from Colombia was to a university in Florida, which had initially approached the company year and a half prior. Progression started out slow, but after Calle completed Soft Landing, it sped up considerably. American clients in general, he said, “tend to try to buy from a U.S.-based company. It’s easier for them. So knowing that we were backed by the Soft Landing program gave this client the confidence to vote for us and say, ‘Ok, we’re gonna do business.’”

When Calle first began the process of expanding into the U.S. market, he — to put it plainly — didn’t know what he didn’t know. Mesh had already been conducting business in Peru and Colombia, among other countries, but Calle didn’t fully realize the importance of preparation when opening up a new market. Part of that preparation, he said, entailed revisiting the scope and quality of his product, not to mention customer presentation.

Soft Landing helped him determine the necessary steps to get him where he wanted to go. “A unique feature of this program is that it’s really tangible. We were ready to start our journey here in the States, and we didn’t have a clue how to approach clients or how to present our products,” said Calle. “Being part of this program gave us the structure we needed in facing our client for the first time. It helped us determine how we were going to deliver the product and how we can make sure the product fits customer expectations.”

Currently, Mesh’s U.S. market presence entails a handful of annual trips from Colombia to ensure that everything is going smoothly for the client. “That’s the first step,” Calle said. “Now that I’m approaching new customers, we’re looking to expand our business in terms of distribution. We are not planning in the short term to bring manufacturing here, but we plan to bring at least part of the team here in the medium term to expand the business.”

When Mesh does establish a physical presence in the U.S., Calle is confident that it will be in southern Georgia. “When you want to set up your business in the U.S, people will often point you toward Florida or Delaware, so you will pay less in taxes,” he said. “But I had a conversation with a CEO of a company who built her company here 20 years ago, and she told me, ‘David, if the first thing you’re thinking is about where are you going to pay less taxes, is that a smart decision? The first thing you’re going to need to do is to grow your business. Have you got any networking in the U.S.?’”

In fact, he did have a network — in Georgia and facilitated by the Soft Landing program. When the time comes to create a legal framework for his U.S. expansion, Calle said, “I’m going to contact one of the lawyers who presented at the program. Instead of looking online, I think it’s wise to go through the contacts already made for us.”

Fortunately for Calle and other Soft Landing graduates, the support offered by the program is ongoing. Said Soft Landing Program Director Alberto Ponce, “When past participants need more service providers, they can let us know, and we can open those doors. If you open offices here in Atlanta, or just come over for a visit, you can use the Georgia Tech resources for help with funding or hiring, for example. They have an open door with us and access to whatever we can do.”

For Calle, the investment in Soft Landing has been invaluable. “It has helped me understand how to prepare today in the right way, so I don’t lose opportunities in the future,” he said. “I would definitely encourage anybody who is thinking about establishing their business in the U.S. to be part of the program.”

ATDC companies raise $280.2 million in investments in 2023

Team Shot Slip Robotics
Employees of Slip Robotics. The Norcross, Georgia-based ATDC portfolio company raised $11 million in 2023. (PHOTO: Erin McDuff/McDuff Photography)

ATLANTA — Startups in the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) current portfolio raised more than $280.2 million in investment capital and created or saved more 2,021 jobs in 2023.

While the investment capital raised was down from the $305.7 million ATDC’s active portfolio companies raised in 2022, it mirrors the prevailing trend across the investment landscape, said Caroline Ford, investor relations manager at ATDC, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.

“As expected, deal raise and deal volume for Georgia are down in all stages of venture capital,” Ford said, “but we are stable and holding our own relative to the past 5 years in terms of percent of deals done and percent of all capital raised among Georgia’s early-stage tech companies.”

Still, companies at ATDC, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, represented a large slice of the completed deals in Georgia under $12 million in 2023.

“While deal volume and deal amounts were weaker across tech companies raising venture capital in 2023, we are pleased that ATDC companies continued to account for about 18 percent of all reported deals done under $12 million for tech or tech-enabled businesses,” ATDC Director John Avery said. “This figure is consistent with the aggregate activity in Georgia from our companies.”

Among select deal highlights in 2023:

  • ATDC portfolio company Slip Robotics raised $11 millionFounded in 2020, Slip Robotics, whose clients include Nissan, John Deere, and Valeo, is a developer of robotic trailer technology designed to simplify the loading and unloading process of trucks.
  • Layr, a 2022 ATDC graduate, an insurance technology business that builds software to automate and digitize insurance brokerages’ small business departments, closed on an oversubscribed $10 million round.
  • Kayhan Space, a leading provider of high-performance software and solutions for space mission operations, raised $7 million in an oversubscribed seed extension round.  The company is scaling quickly as it accelerates the commercial delivery of the industry’s first autonomous space traffic coordination (STC) framework, Pathfinder™ 3.0.

There were other bright spots in ATDC’s overall 2023 results, too.

ATDC portfolio companies received more the $10.2 million in non-dilutive federal funding grants through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs in 2023.

When ATDC’s graduate companies are included with the incubator’s current startup portfolio, more than $6.2 billion in investment capital was raised in 2023, up nearly 8% from the $5.7 billion reported in 2022.

What’s more, ATDC’s current portfolio and graduate companies recorded revenue of $2.43 billion in 2023 — up nearly 54% from the $1.58 billion they reported in 2022.

“Traditionally, our companies stay in business after graduating from the portfolio and will typically go on to raise later rounds of capital, bringing jobs and economic activity to the Georgia economy as they scale,” Avery said.

Greenlight, a 2018 ATDC graduate is one example, he said. The ATDC-born financial technology startup behind smart debit cards for parents monitoring their children’s spending, reached unicorn status in 2020, is now valued at $2.3 billion, and employs 515.

ATDC companies are also more likely to be acquired than their Georgia peers as evidenced with the acquisition of Medxoom, a 2023 ATDC graduate and healthcare financing platform, which was acquired by Allied Health that same year.

Jobs were also a highlight in 2023 in the incubator’s ecosystem. ATDC’s current and graduate companies reported saving or creating 14,770 jobs in 2023, up from 11,793 in 2022.

Savannah Congressman Tours Georgia Tech’s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility

Visit includes overview of Georgia AIM project

When U.S. Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter from Georgia’s 1st District visited Atlanta recently, one of his top priorities was meeting with the experts at Georgia Tech’s 20,000-square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility (AMPF).

Carter was recently named the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s chair of the Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee, a group that concerns itself primarily with contamination of soil, air, noise, and water, as well as emergency environmental response, whether physical or cybersecurity.

Because AMPF’s focus dovetails with subcommittee interests, the facility was a fitting stop for Carter, who was welcomed for an afternoon tour and series of live demonstrations. Programs within Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute — specifically the Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (Georgia AIM) and Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) — were well represented.

“Innovation is extremely important,” Carter said during his April 1 visit. “In order to handle some of our problems, we’ve got to have adaptation, mitigation, and innovation. I’ve always said that the greatest innovators, the greatest scientists in the world, are right here in the United States. I’m so proud of Georgia Tech and what they do for our state and for our nation.”

Three people in a room
Michael Barker (right), GaMEP project manager for cybersecurity, strategy, and leadership development, speaks as U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (left) and Andrew Krejci (center), another GaMEP project manager, listen. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

Carter’s AMPF visit began with an introduction by Tom Kurfess, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute; Steven Ferguson, principal research scientist and managing director at Georgia AIM; research engineer Kyle Saleeby; and Donna Ennis, the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s director of community engagement and program development, and co-director of Georgia AIM.

Ennis provided an overview of Georgia AIM, while Ferguson spoke on the Manufacturing 4.0 Consortium and Kurfess detailed the AMPF origin story, before introducing four live demonstrations.

The first of these featured Chuck Easley, Professor of the Practice in the Scheller College of Business, who elaborated on supply chain issues. Afterward Alan Burl of EPICS: Enhanced Preparation for Intelligent Cybermanufacturing Systems and mechanical engineer Melissa Foley led a brief information session on hybrid turbine blade repair.

Finally, GaMEP project manager Michael Barker expounded on GaMEP’s cybersecurity services, and Deryk Stoops of Central Georgia Technical College detailed the Georgia AIM-sponsored AI robotics training program at the Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center, which offers training and assistance to those making the transition from military to civilian life.

The topic of artificial intelligence, in all its subtlety and nuance, was of particular interest to Carter.

“AI is the buzz in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “Whether it be healthcare, energy [or] science, we on the Energy and Commerce Committee look at it from a sense [that there’s] a very delicate balance, and we understand the responsibility. But we want to try to benefit from this as much as we can.”

He continued: “I heard something today I haven’t heard before, and that is instead of calling it artificial intelligence, we refer to it as ‘augmented intelligence.’ I think that’s a great term, and certainly something I’m going to take back to Washington with me.”

Said Ennis, “It was a pleasure to host Rep. Carter for a firsthand look at AMPF, which is uniquely positioned to offer businesses the opportunity to collaborate with Georgia Tech researchers and students and to hear about Georgia AIM.”

She added, “At Georgia AIM, we’re committed to making the state a leader in artificial intelligence-assisted manufacturing, and we’re grateful for Congressman Carter’s interest and support of our efforts.”

EI2 Global Wraps up Soft Landing Spring 2024 Cohort

Expanding a foreign business into the U.S. isn’t always a straightforward process. Companies are tasked not only with navigating national regulations and standard practices but also with grasping the nuances of American culture.

That’s where the Enterprise Innovation Institute comes in. The organization is authorized by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) to provide instruction on those topics and others through the seven-week, hybrid  Soft Landing program, administered by EI2 Global.

The most recent cohort began February 14 and wrapped up April 17. During that period, participants were exposed to more than 40 hours of workshops, as well as one-on-one meetings and intensive training.

According to program director Alberto Ponce, Soft Landing “is the best investment companies can make to prepare for internationalization. It accelerates their work and provides them with networks, guidance, and hard research to enter the market. It’s an invaluable resource to make their goals a reality.”

People at a conference table speaking.
Juli Golemi (left), director of EI2 Global, listens as Juan Cuellar, senior international trade manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development addresses Soft Landing Immersion Week attendees. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

Since its launch in 2018, the Georgia Tech Soft Landing program has worked with 22 companies in five countries from two continents that were interested in expanding into the U.S. market. Of those participants, 15 of them have expanded into the U.S.

The first of Soft Landing’s three components is instructional. Conducted virtually and extending throughout the length of the course, it assists businesses in building their internal capacity for expansion.

“We advocate for Georgia in this part of the program,” said Ponce. “This is the fastest growing region in the United States, and the Atlanta metropolitan area has a great quality of life. But we are fortunate that, as a university-based endeavor, the Soft Landing program is not tied to any particular service-providers or government-based programs. So, there’s no expectation or requirement that businesses relocate here. They have their own networks; they’re not tied to this area.”

People talking at a conference table
Bayron Quinteros, CEO of IData, a 2023 Soft Landing participant, explains how the program helped him in his decision to establish his U.S. presence in Atlanta. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

Soft Landing’s other two components are designed to connect participants face to face with experts who can help put theory into practice, offering guidance on everything from relocating company managers to navigating aspects of hiring, immigration, and accounting.

It’s during Immersion Week — undoubtedly the program’s highlight — that these personal connections are facilitated. From March 18 to 22, EI2 Global hosted four companies from Colombia looking to expand their business into the U.S. They were introduced to upwards of 15 people in the Soft Landing network, including service providers, powerhouse networkers, government officials, and Chamber of Commerce members. They also attended networking events that put them in contact with hundreds of Latin American businesses, increasing their chances of finding partners, providers, and clients.

Nicolás Ochoa, director of the Medellín creative agency Studio 1642, saw Immersion Week as a structured way to approach people, saying, “the magic of this program is to really use those connections and those mentors.”

According to participant Andrés Domínguez, whose app Beunik connects users to salons and barbershops, one of the main benefits of the program is the way it fosters “unexpected collisions.”

He added, “You can meet anyone from your industry, and [they] can help you. I’ve heard that creating a startup is a lonely process. It [doesn’t have] to be. Allies like Soft Landing can help you to reduce a lot of uncertainty. When you reduce your uncertainty, you are going to make informed decisions, and this is the perfect program to make informed decisions to enter the U.S. market.”

From Ponce’s point of view, many program outcomes can be considered positive. While some Soft Landing participants determine that Georgia is the optimal location for their business, others may choose a different state — or decide it’s not yet the right time to move into the U.S. market. Regardless of which actions they ultimately take, participants gain a solid understanding of the strategies that will best serve their goals.

For Jorge Gutiérrez, whose business Grupo Y provides elastic polymers to a range of market sectors, the program provided a deeper insight into American culture, which he characterized as “very important, because [it gives] us the opportunity to understand how we can arrive in an [appropriate] way in the U.S.”

Even when Soft Landing concludes, the program is far from over. Participants are given ongoing assistance and follow-up mentorship. Scheduled check-ins at six months and a year are built into the curriculum, but there is plenty of flexibility, too.

“We have an open-door policy,” Ponce explained. “They can reach out to us requesting connections for mentoring or consulting, and we are always open to meeting with them to work through their problems. Expanding into a new country takes a lot of commitment and investment. Most of the companies don’t do it within the year.”

Periodically, participants are asked to reflect on how the Soft Landing program helped them and impacted their decision-making. Because success is subjective and highly variable, tracking it is necessarily an open-ended, long-term endeavor.

Said Juan José Acero, of health supplement company Brightfull, “As soon as you finish [the program], you have a lot of questions, but you know how to answer those questions. You know how to structure the project. You are not going to have a clear idea about the next couple of years, but you will be [able to] understand what you need.”

To set up a video call for more information, contact Soft Landing program director Alberto Ponce: alberto.ponce@innovate.gatech.edu, 404.894.7083.

EI2 Global hosts Argentinian startups on business development tour

Alberto Ponce, who manages EI2 Global’s Soft Landing program, explains how it helps foreign companies exploring U.S. expansion navigate that complex market. (PHOTO: Péralte C. Paul)

EI2 Global,  the international outreach economic development program at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, recently hosted a delegation of startup founders and investors from Argentina who were in Atlanta on a three-day fact finding mission about the region’s startup ecosystem.

The delegation, led by Argentina’s Atlanta-based Consul General Alana Patricia Lomonaco Busto, wanted to learn about the business opportunities in the region. Attendees also wanted to see how Enterprise Innovation Institute programs such as EI2 Global’s Soft Landing program helps foreign companies determine if entering the U.S. market makes sense and how to do so to strategically to maximize success, said Albert Ponce, who manages the Soft Landing initiative.

The visitors also toured the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to learn how the incubator helps startups scale and connect with investors, customers, and talent.

Robert Daniel, ATDC FinTech catalyst, explains how the incubator supports Georgia’s startup ecosystem. (PHOTO: Péralte C. Paul)

While in Atlanta, the delegates will also meet with officials from the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Technology Association of Georgia, and Atlanta City Hall.

The visit to Georgia Tech is one of several from Argentina in the last few years, as well as from other parts of Latin America, Europe, and Africa.

They are part of EI2 Global’s longstanding mission of serving as the nexus for helping businesses and economic development organizations around the world foster their own  innovation-focused, economic development ecosystems.

EI2’s Chasten McCrary Awarded Bergmark Family Study Abroad Scholarship for Scheller Project in Czechia

Chasten McCrary (Photo: Chris Ruggiero)

Chasten McCrary, a strategy consultant with the Enterprise Innovation Institute‘s chief of staff, was awarded the Bergmark Family Study Abroad Scholarship from Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business.

McCrary, a second-year Evening MBA student, was selected to partake in Scheller’s International Practicum Course. This Spring semester, she serves as a student consultant for an internationally-based company alongside her classmates.

As part of this opportunity, she is spending her spring break in Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic) to collaborate with ALBAform, a woman-owned manufacturing company in the automotive industry.

McCrary said she was excited to blend her hands-on work experience with educational enrichment during this adventure.

“I really enjoyed serving as a consultant on the team for ALBAform,” McCrary said. “I’m looking forward to delivering our final recommendations and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”

From left, John Parkerson, international business attorney; Scheller MBA students, Brooke E. Leeder, Chasten McCrary, Stephen Coterillo; Monika Vintrlikova, ALBAform senior executive and Honorary Consul Czechia, and Jan Vintrlik, ALBAform’s chief operating officer.

Founded in 1992, ALBAform is a second-generation, family-owned business with more than three decades of international experience in metal fabrication and engineering services with operations in. Czechia, Mexico, and in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Its clients include BMW, Ford Motor Co., and Volvo.

The company is a client of the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which assisted ALBAform in leadership and business strategy consulting, and workforce development.

The Bergmark Family Study Abroad Scholarship is named for Dick Bergmark (IM ‘75, Hon. PhD ’22), one of  the Scheller College of Business’ main philanthropists, and immediate past chair of the school’s advisory board.

Enterprise 6 Internship Program Applications Open for Summer 2024

Are you a student currently enrolled in the University System of Georgia (USG) who’s excited
to take on new challenges in technology, business development, or ecosystem building?

Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is now accepting applications for its competitive 2024 Enterprise 6 (E6) Summer Internship Program, which offers paid opportunities to collaborate on dynamic projects in furtherance of an economic development mission.

The longest running and most diverse university-based economic development organization in the United States, the Enterprise Innovation Institute launched its founding program more than 60 years ago. Since then, the organization has expanded to serve innovative enterprises of all sizes, from pre-company teams and startups to long-running businesses, as well as communities seeking to revitalize their local economies.

Though the Enterprise 6 Internship Program, USG undergraduate and graduate students across a range of disciplines discover how the skills they’ve been cultivating in classrooms and labs can play a role in economic development. The program is made possible via funding from the Georgia Tech Office of the Executive Vice President for Research.

Two georgia tech Enterprise 6 alums
Enterprise 6 alums from the 2023 class (from left) Olajide Olugbade and Hanyu Lu. (PHOTOS: Péralte Paul)

Although the internship doesn’t accrue academic credit, students receive $25 an hour for a 20-hour work week. Each intern is mentored by an Enterprise Innovation Institute research faculty member, and bi-weekly remote meetings offer the chance to share observations about their experience.

“The Enterprise Innovation Institute engages in meaningful work to expand economic opportunity for all, and the E6 program provides students the opportunity to work on real-world challenges supporting the equitable development and deployment of talent and innovation both locally and globally,” said David Bridges, the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s vice president.

“In some cases, E6 interns are so inspired by this experience that they that change the trajectory of their ambitions.”

Take, for example, Eve Pike, who at the time of her 2021 internship was a student at Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Working with Enterprise 6 gave her a new set of reference points, and Pike realized she wanted to pursue a career in tech — and possibly even expand into marketing or economics. “It broadened my horizon,” she said.

Hanyu Lu found that her experience as an Enterprise 6 intern in 2023 “significantly enhanced my skills in analysis and development.” After E6, Lu, who is working towards a master’s degree in computational science and engineering at Georgia Tech, went on to complete an internship at Heartland Forward, in Bentonville, Arkansas, where she continued to strengthen the abilities she honed as an E6 intern.

For another member of the 2023 cohort, Olajide Olugbade, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in science and technology policy at Georgia Tech, the Enterprise 6 internship was instrumental in securing his current position as a graduate research assistant. “The knowledge I gained, the skills I demonstrated, and the relationship I built while conducting research for the EI2 Global team all contributed to being the candidate of choice,” he said.

The benefits of the Enterprise 6 program flow in both directions; not only do the interns gain valuable skills from their experiences, they also contribute in a very tangible way to the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s mission.

“E6 students bring fresh and unique perspectives to our work,” said Bridges. “These perspectives allow our programs to deliver leading-edge capacity-building support to people, companies, and communities in Georgia and beyond.”

Enterprise 6 internships run from May 13 to August 9. Seven internships are available, and interested students may apply to a maximum of two.

See the project outlines from the application link.

  • EARN: $25 per hour (up to 20 hours per week).
  • OPPORTUNITY TO: Serve enterprises and communities of all sizes.
  • REQUIREMENTS: Must thrive on challenging projects in technology, business development, or ecosystem building.
  • ELIGIBILITY: Open to all University System of Georgia students.
  • WHEN: May 13, 2024 to August 9, 2024.
  • LOCATION: Hybrid (work remotely and in Technology Square, Atlanta).
  • DEADLINE: Résumés due March 22, 2024.
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Bold Move to Columbus, Georgia Marks First Semiconductor Manufacturer in Region

CHIPS4CHIPS strategy, Georgia Tech collaboration, prove successful

Prashant Patil at meeting
Prashant Patil, founder and CEO of Micromize, explains to a coalition of business, civic, and military stakeholders from Columbus, Georgia and Georgia Tech leaders why he opted to relocate his company to Columbus, Georgia from Massachusetts. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

COLUMBUS and ATLANTA, GA — Innovative partnering proved successful as CHIPS4CHIPS announced the locating of the first semiconductor manufacturer in the Chattahoochee Valley. Micromize, a pioneering semiconductor manufacturer specializing in energy-efficient electronics for wearables and mobile devices, has chosen Columbus as the location for its inaugural manufacturing facility.

The move is the result of strategic partnerships between Micromize, CHIPS4CHIPS (Chattahoochee Hub for Innovation and Production of Semiconductors/C4C), and several programs at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, including its Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), its Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Center for Economic Development Research. It also signifies a collaborative effort to harness the cutting-edge innovations in semiconductor packaging available at Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology.

“Our decision to locate in Columbus was driven by several crucial factors and we are thrilled about the opportunities that this vibrant city presents for our growth and development,” said Prashant Patil, Micromize founder and CEO. “The work of CHIPS4CHIPS in supporting the semiconductor industry is commendable, and we are excited to be part of this innovative ecosystem.”

This exciting development was announced Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the Marcus Nanotechnology Center on Georgia Tech’s campus to a large group of state legislators and other state officials, a delegation of business and civic leaders from Columbus, and leadership from Georgia Tech and ATDC. This announcement is a true look at how statewide partnerships can lead to success for the Columbus region.

Micromize, a spin-off of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, selected Georgia as its new home in part, to take advantage of the semiconductor packaging expertise at Georgia Tech. The company plans to establish its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Columbus, further solidifying its presence in the state’s vibrant technology ecosystem. Additionally, Micromize will center its cutting-edge research and development on Georgia Tech’s campus.

“The collaboration with Micromize is a significant milestone for CHIPS4CHIPS and the entire region,” said Ben Moser, president and CEO of United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley and Chair of CHIPS4CHIPS. “This announcement marks the first of what we believe will be many to come, and we are thankful that Micromize recognizes the potential of our region for this industry. Columbus is poised for remarkable development, and we look forward to the positive impact that Micromize will bring to our community.”

The strategic relocation is expected to create significant economic opportunities in the region. Micromize will bring 20-25 jobs to Columbus through its headquarters and manufacturing facility, contributing to the local workforce, and fostering growth.

Micromize will center its Research & Development Lab at Georgia Tech’s 3D Systems Packaging Research Center, which is regarded as the world’s best for semiconductor packaging research. This partnership represents a synergistic collaboration of industry leaders, research institutions, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Micromize’s move to Columbus not only underscores the city’s growing prominence as a technology hub but also highlights the collaborative efforts driving innovation and economic development in the state of Georgia.

In addition to C4C’s nationally recognized workforce development efforts, the Fort Moore army base, and its skilled workforce, the region’s proximity to a port and airport will facilitate efficient shipping, and Columbus played a pivotal role in supporting the company by providing essential infrastructure, he said.

 “Our collaboration with Georgia Tech enriches our talent pool, adds exponentially to our research and development capabilities, and access to mentorship at ATDC enhances our commercialization potential,” Patil said. “We are also proud to be part of the effort to revitalize semiconductor manufacturing in the United States, with Columbus serving as our starting point as we embark on this exciting journey of growth and innovation.”

Georgia Tech, a leader in microchips and nanotechnology research, innovation, and fabrication, provides a fertile ground for Micromize’s relocation. The Institute’s commitment to advancing semiconductor technology aligns with the national push at the federal level (via the CHIPS and Science Act) to bring more semiconductor production to the U.S., making it more competitive in research, development, and manufacturing.

“As the state’s technology startup incubator, we’re excited to welcome Micromize into our portfolio and to support them into the next phase of growth and expansion,” said ATDC Director John Avery.

“Microchips, semiconductor packaging and microelectronics are critical to our national economy and national security. Micromize’s choosing Georgia as its home to grow reflects what is proving to be a successful model when business, government, and research institutions such as Georgia Tech collaborate.”

About Micromize
Micromize is a leading provider of energy-efficient electronics for wearables and mobile devices. With a foundation rooted in MIT research in semiconductor packaging, Micromize is at the forefront of technological innovation, creating solutions that empower the future of electronics.

CHIPS4CHIPS (Chattahoochee Hub for Innovation and Production of Semiconductors) is a dynamic bi-state, multi-county coalition in the Chattahoochee Valley, uniting hundreds of individuals, organizations, and businesses, as well as the public and private sector.  C4C’s vision positions our region as the southeast leader in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing. C4C’s efforts will bolster the domestic semiconductor industry, contribute to regional economic growth, support national security, and reduce poverty through the creation of well-paying jobs. With the industry’s significant U.S. expansion, C4C strategically aligns with the public, business, and educational sectors to foster a skilled semiconductor value chain.

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 ATDC
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, is the state’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 the longest running and one of the 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.

Center for MedTech Excellence Named Inaugural Member of ARPA-H Investor Catalyst Hub Spoke Network

MedTech Center joins a national network focused
on accelerating transformative health solutions

ATLANTA — The Center for MedTech Excellence announced today it has been selected as an inaugural spoke for the Investor Catalyst Hub, a regional hub of ARPANET-H, a nationwide health innovation network launched by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

Center for MedTech Excellence Director Nakia Melecio. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

An economic development program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Center for MedTech Excellence boasts a robust track record of pioneering innovation and fostering collaboration within the medical technology industry, making it a prime candidate for a strategic partnership as a spoke partner.

Its deep industry expertise and commitment to advancing cutting-edge solutions position it as an asset for any collaborative endeavor.

Based in the Greater Boston area and managed by VentureWell, the Investor Catalyst Hub aims to accelerate the commercialization of practical, accessible biomedical solutions. It utilizes an innovative hub-and-spoke model designed to reach a wide range of nonprofit organizations and minority-serving institutions, with the ultimate aim of delivering scalable healthcare outcomes for all Americans.

“I consider it a privilege to be a part of the ARPA-H network,” MedTech Center Director Nakia Melecio said. “Not only do we have the opportunity to contribute our capabilities to this influential network, but we also gain access to valuable resources, opportunities, and a transformative investor catalyst hub that will significantly impact our region.

The Center for MedTech Excellence joins a dynamic nationwide network of organizations aligned to ARPA-H’s overarching mission to improve health outcomes through the following research focus areas: health science futures, proactive health, scalable solutions, and resilient systems.

The Investor Catalyst Hub spokes represent a broad spectrum of expertise, geographic diversity, and community perspectives.

“Our spoke network represents a rich and representative range of perspectives and expertise,” said Mark Marino, vice president of Growth Strategy and Development for VentureWell and project director for the Investor Catalyst Hub. “Our spokes comprise a richly diverse network that will be instrumental in ensuring that equitable health solutions reach communities across every state and tribal nation.”

As an Investor Catalyst Hub spoke, Center for MedTech Excellence gains access to potential funding and flexible contracting for faster award execution compared to traditional government contracts. Spoke membership also offers opportunities to provide input on ARPA-H challenge areas and priorities, along with access to valuable networking opportunities and a robust resource library.

The spoke network will continue to grow as the Investor Catalyst Hub expands its efforts, with applications being selected on a rolling basis. Interested organizations can visit investorcatalysthub.org to learn more or submit a membership application.

About the Center for MedTech Excellence
We catalyze the development and commercialization of breakthrough biotechnology, medical devices, life science, and therapeutic innovations. As program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, we serve as trusted partners and deliver a complete toolkit to enhance the odds of success for an early-stage biotech company. To learn more, visit medtech.gatech.edu.