Georgia Tech Entrepreneur Pursuing Greener Energy

Sila Nanotechnologies receives $100 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for battery technology

Entrepreneurs and those who support and nurture them must be tenacious visionaries, possessed with the ability to predict the future. Leaders at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s ATDC and VentureLab demonstrate these skills again and again as they select companies for their programs that hold the promise of changing the world.

Gleb Yushin, a professor in the School of Materials and Engineering and co-founder and chief technology officer of Sila

One such company, Sila Nanotechnologies, an engineered materials company focused on improving energy storage, went through the program a decade ago. Still, Gleb Yushin, a professor in the School of Materials and Engineering and co-founder and chief technology officer of Sila, remembers the impact the experience had on his company.

“I wanted to start a business focused on using materials science to make a global impact, but I had no business expertise,” Yushin said. “So, the support and guidance I received from ATDC and VentureLab were remarkably useful for me. They helped instill confidence in me and my vision of building a battery materials company that would dramatically increase Li-ion energy density with silicon anodes and other material technologies.”

The confidence they instilled, plus the mentors who worked with him on the business side – an area way outside his comfort zone at that time – were the most important parts of working with the entrepreneurship programs, he said.

A rendering of Sila’s new Moses Lake facility

Those early interactions – along with years of hard work and top-notch science – paid off in a huge way for Sila. Recently, the company was awarded $100 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The funds, plus private investments, will be used to build out Sila’s new 600,000-square-foot facility in Moses Lake, Washington, where the company will scale manufacturing of its silicon anode materials. Sila anticipates enough production to power 200,000 electric vehicles by 2026.

“It’s so exciting when one of the VentureLab companies makes good,” said Keith McGreggor, director of VentureLab. “It’s why we all do the work we do. Gleb and his partners are changing the world with their battery technology that’s cleaner, less expensive, and more efficient. It’s great to see that rewarded.”

The reward is a result of years of research and work into the science of battery manufacturing, Yushin said.

“We invented a new drop-in battery with replacement silicon-based composite materials that are not only remarkably robust and stable, but also didn’t need to change the way batteries are made. In other words, we made our materials compatible with all the battery manufacturing processes and steps that were used in the past and will likely be used in the future,” Yushin said.

The latest round of funding and the government grant will allow Sila to scale manufacturing and Mercedes-Benz is ready when Sila is. The automaker will use Sila’s anode materials to power its G-Class series electric vehicles, beginning in 2025. The new batteries will deliver a 20% to 40% increase in energy density in their electric vehicles (EVs), which will both increase range and enable faster charges at the same time.

Sila is also working with WHOOP, the health and fitness wearables company, whose devices contain Sila batteries, which deliver roughly a 20% increase in battery energy density with a 33% reduction in device size, he said.

“When working on our anodes, we built the best, most reliant performance solutions to be resilient against supply chain issues,” Yushin said. “The blueprints of Sila’s first auto-scale factory will be used for replicating other silicon-anode material factories in the U.S. and abroad, making the company a major global player in most-advanced green energy technologies. But anode materials are just the beginning. We have a pipeline of other drop-in replacement, supply-chain resilient technologies at different stages of their developments to push the battery performance to new heights.”

About Sila

Founded in 2011, Sila is a next-generation battery materials company with the mission to power the world’s transition to clean energy. Sila shipped the world’s first commercially available silicon anode for lithium-ion batteries in 2021. Sila’s materials drive battery performance enhancements in consumer electronics devices and will power electric vehicles starting with the Mercedes-Benz G-Class series. Committed to American leadership in clean energy production, Sila is scaling its technology at its manufacturing facility in Moses Lake, Washington. Major investors include 8VC, Bessemer Venture Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Coatue, In-Q-Tel, Matrix Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Awards Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership Grant to Address Food Safety

Grant to be used to train food and beverage entrepreneurs in underserved communities in best practices

The pandemic upended the food and beverage industries in ways that are just coming to light, such as the destruction of the peer and mentoring networks new entrepreneurs rely on to learn how to grow their businesses from basement to production.

To help rebuild those essential learning networks and revive some of the training they once offered, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded a three-year, $550,000 grant to Georgia Tech’s Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP).

GaMEP, housed in the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, will train food industry entrepreneurs in Georgia and the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico in food safety practices and regulations. The grant funding will also be used to train the trainers, which will help rebuild those critical networks.

This is the largest sponsored grant the Enterprise Innovation Institute has received from USDA, marking the importance of the food sector in Georgia.

“The food manufacturing industry is a focus area for GaMEP, as it is the largest manufacturing industry sector in Georgia,” said GaMEP Director Tim Israel. “We have increased our food-industry specific services significantly over the past five years, and this grant will allow us to expand our reach to serve more small and underserved companies to coach them on safe and efficient production processes that will help them grow.”

Expanding GaMEP’s reach to minority and underserved populations is an essential element of the grant.

“The purpose of this grant is to provide free — and this was really important to us — free food-safety training,” said Wendy White, industry manager, food safety and quality, at GaMEP and grant manager. “We’re also coupling that with business development training.”

The training will be focused on entrepreneurs in underserved communities in metro Atlanta, Middle and South Georgia, and Puerto Rico, all areas that have experienced a lot of growth in the food sector.

“Puerto Rico has this amazing cultural heritage around food. Because it is an island, they have concerns about food sovereignty — that is, making enough food to support themselves,” said Brandy Nagel, co-manager on the grant and program manager in the Georgia Minority Business Development Agency Business Center at the Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Part of why we’re including Puerto Rico in this grant is to build capacity on the island for food entrepreneurs to be safe and to scale up their businesses so that they can be successful and profitable.”

Grant partners Fort Valley State University, in Middle Georgia, and PRiMEX, the MEP center in Puerto Rico, will work with GaMEP to reach entrepreneurs in their regions.

The grant also includes funding for capacity building, in the form of train-the-trainer education in the three regions. “Our trainers will continue to disseminate this information to their communities after we’re gone,” White said. “What’s exciting about that is that it will continue to have impact for years to come as more entrepreneurs get this training, which will only serve to strengthen the ecosystem.”

Learn more about GaMEP’s commitment to food manufacturing companies in minority and underserved communities in this video.

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)
The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, whose purpose is to help manufacturers improve their performance in the global market. GaMEP offers coaching and training in operational excellence, technology implementation, leadership and strategy, marketing, energy management, and sustainability, to manufacturers across the state to help increase top-line growth, reduce bottom-line costs, and boost the economic well-being of Georgia. GaMEP is part of the MEP National Network, a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing. To learn more, visit gamep.org.

About the Georgia MBDA Business Center
As part of a national network of 64 centers and special projects funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the Georgia MBDA Business Center helps minority business enterprises (MBEs) obtain capital, access markets and business opportunities domestically and globally, increase profitability, and scale operations. By providing technical assistance, coaching, education, and contacts, the center has helped MBEs create more than 7,000 jobs, and achieve nearly $6.4 billion in contracts and finance, while remaining competitive economic engines in their respective markets. To learn more, visit georgiambdabusinesscenter.org

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute
The Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s economic development unit, serves all of Georgia through a variety of services and programs that build and scale startups, grow business enterprises, and energize ecosystem builders. As the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based economic development organization, the Institute’s expertise and reach are global; its innovation, entrepreneurship, and ecosystem development programs serve governments, universities, nonprofits, and other organizations worldwide. In 2021, the Enterprise Innovation Institute served more than 15,500 businesses, communities, and entrepreneurs. Those clients reported startup investment capital exceeding $1.1 billion and creating or saving more than 11,300 jobs. The Enterprise Innovation Institute’s total 2021 financial impact exceeded $2.9 billion. Learn more at innovate.gatech.edu.

Enter the State of Innovation

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

 

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

 

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

 

Debra Lam, executive director of the Partnership

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Economic Opportunity

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

 

Student Engagement

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

 

Community Research

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

 

Workforce Development

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

 

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

 

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

 

About the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation:

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

The Defense Innovation Unit Roadshow Comes to ATDC

DIU looks at ways tech entrepreneurs can
do business with the Department of Defense

 

Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists discovered ways to do business with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) when the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) presented at the Atlanta Technology Development Center (ATDC), the state’s internationally recognized technology business incubator, Monday.

 

The DIU is a DoD-funded matchmaker of sorts, working to connect various DoD partners with commercial companies to solve specific problems for the military. The two events, one for entrepreneurs and one for venture capitalists, offered the opportunity for Georgians to learn more about the technology focus areas of the DIU, the acquisition processes, and ways to engage with them. The DIU’s single goal is getting essential technology into the DoD to strengthen the national security innovation base.

 

Mike Madsen, the DIU’s director of strategic engagement, presents at ATDC.

“It’s no secret that dual use technology — technology with commercial and government applications — is going to be increasingly important going forward,” said Mike Madsen, the DIU’s director of strategic engagement. “If you look at what some of our would-be adversaries are doing, they are making their commercially developed technology immediately available to their militaries. We have to get folks to want to work with us. And let’s face it, we make this as hard as possible.”

 

Streamlining the process for bringing new commercial tech companies into the DoD fold was the idea behind the creation of the DIU seven years ago.

 

“Everything starts with a DoD problem set,” Madsen said. That’s a specific problem that the DoD thinks can be solved through a commercial application. The solution may be something that’s already commercially available or it may be a commercial product that would need to be customized to suit the military.

 

The DIU works with DoD to state the problem simply, in non-military terms. “We get rid of the Pentagon jargon, get rid of the acronyms, make it easily understood by the commercial sector,” Madsen said. “And then our commercial engagement team is engaged in the commercial sector to make sure that there’s a commercial solution for what DoD is trying to solve … then we can prototype and go from there.”

 

The problems that DoD is looking to solve, along with information about submitting a possible solution, are spelled out — in non-jargon — on the DIU website.

 

The DIU’s six technology areas of focus — and the areas tech firms might find a fit — are artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, energy, human systems, and space.

 

The hybrid event (virtual and in person) drew about 65 people, who were very engaged, with questions both during and following the presentations. The roadshow, which will be repeated throughout the country, is designed to expand the DIU’s already broad reach. The organization has 98 ongoing projects and 51 completed projects, with 105 first-time DoD vendors. The unit also has some serious money to support prototyping of potential commercial applications.

 

“We are modestly budgeted at about $100 million,” Madsen said. “But we leverage about $1 billion of our DoD partner funding to the prototyping phase, as well as about $20 billion in venture capital funding.”

 

Nakia Melecio, ATDC’s senior startup and deep tech catalyst, facilitated the event and summed up the importance of the visit.

 

“More and more government, academia, and commercial firms are working together [to solve problems,]” he said. “So, this relationship [with DIU] is very important.”

 

He also reminded attendees, many of whom were new to ATDC, that the organization is available to help.

 

“If you’re not plugged into ATDC, make sure you get plugged in to ATDC,” he said. “We have our staff here that’s equipped to help you. We’re also here as coaches to provide support to all of you. And we’ll work very closely with the DIU to help you unpack a lot of things you heard today.”

 

In Georgia, 41 solution submissions have been made to the DIU website, with one prototype contract awarded to a Georgia company, including $87,500 in funding. But the DIU wants to see that grow. This event is a first step in making that happen.

Partnership for Inclusive Innovation Announces 2022 Smart Communities

Four Georgia communities receive support for projects that leverage applied research, technology and data to advance innovation in smart resilience

 

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private organization designed to position Georgia as the leader for innovation, opportunity and shared economic success, today announced the winners of the 2022 Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, at Central Georgia Technical College in Warner Robins.

 

Representatives from the 2022 Georgia Smart Communities Challenge cohort (Photo: Matt Hummel)

The award-winning Georgia Smart Communities Challenge supports teams of applied researchers, municipalities and nonprofit groups to work together over the course of the year on locally driven priorities ranging from installing sea level sensors for hurricane resilience to building digital twins for public safety and transportation.

 

The 2022 theme, Smart Resilience, sought projects that address topics including disaster response, energy efficiency and public safety.

 

“This year, we add four communities from across Georgia, spanning three economic development districts and including multi-disciplinary researchers from Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Middle Georgia State University, Clayton State University and Augusta University,” said Stephanie Broxton, the Partnership’s community research manager.

 

“The selected communities submitted strong multi-disciplinary, multi-university research project proposals that aim to advance innovation by leveraging technology and data. Communities from throughout Georgia were selected to ensure impact across the state.”

 

Each of the projects will receive financial and technical assistance to support and continue the work of implementing applied research from university partners, as well as assistance from the Partnership for monthly meetings, community engagement and promotion of project outcomes.

 

Georgia Tech is a proud member of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation,” Ángel Cabrera, president of Georgia Tech, said. “We’re truly committed to creating opportunities for all Georgians to drive innovation and to make Georgia the Tech Capital of the East Coast.

 

Cabrera congratulated the Georgia Smart winners and added, “This work is sure to create lasting transformative change, not just for the winning communities, but also for their neighbors and everyone who benefits from this research in the future.”

 

The 2022 cohort communities and projects are:

 

City of Atlanta: The project will use innovative diagnostic techniques to perform energy audits in Atlanta’s Thomasville Heights community, with the goal of achieving significant cost savings compared to traditional building energy auditing practices. The audits are done with minimally invasive drones equipped with remote sensing instruments to analyze building exteriors. The method holds promise for overcoming homeowner hesitancy about weatherization programs and can be replicated in distressed neighborhoods throughout the city. The project is especially timely in the Thomasville Heights community, where ongoing challenges such as acute unemployment and poverty will soon be compounded by the closure of long-neglected subsidized housing. Researchers from Georgia Tech and Morehouse School of Medicine, and representatives from Focused Community Strategies will work with the city of Atlanta on this project.

 

“We are currently supporting neighborhood stabilization in Thomasville Heights,” said Dr. Latrice Rollins, assistant professor for community health and preventive medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine. This project will allow “us to use utility rebates and bulk purchasing as solutions for poverty amelioration and will reduce the cost of energy.”

 

Atlanta Project Team:

 

Athens-Clarke County: The Climate Resilience Project through Technology and Transportation Innovation will evaluate and improve community preparedness in response to the growing severity of environmental disaster and the region’s increasing population. The project will include the development and deployment of a survey to gauge existing disaster preparedness and resident interest in improving preparedness in their communities. Leaders will engage with the community to create an all-hazards mitigation plan, neighborhood disaster playbook template and strengthened neighborhood-level resource and relationship network. The goal is to minimize risk and work toward providing equitable outcomes for all members of the community in the event of a catastrophic disaster. Researchers from the University of Georgia, Augusta University and Kennesaw State University will work with Athens-Clarke County on this project.

 

“Athens-Clarke County is dedicated to building a culture of readiness and resiliency for all of our residents,” said Mayor Kelly Girtz. “Through this partnership, I believe we will make Athens-Clarke County a safer, strong and adaptable place to live.”

 

Athens-Clarke County project team:

 

The Henry County Smart Resilience Decision Support Tool (DST) will be an interactive web-based tool to assist county planners, policymakers and county officials as they assess and explore the impact and potential of new greenspace, warehousing and freight-related infrastructure projects. The tool will help county officials answer the question: How can Henry County reconcile community economic development objectives with quality of life and energy resilience concerns? Researchers from Georgia Tech and Clayton State University will work with Henry County on this project.

 

“We are so excited and honored that Henry County has been chosen to receive the Georgia Smart Award,” said Carlotta Harrell, chair of the Henry County Board of Commissioners. “We continue to look for ways to improve and enhance transportation for Henry County residents and this continued partnership with Georgia Smart allows us to do just that.”

 

Henry County project team:

 

City of Warner Robins: The project will develop and test a Citizen Safety Digital Twin for Community Resilience through the integration of a dynamic license plate reader solution with police department investigation practices. The project team will build on previous work to refine an interface that enables the police department to see where crimes are predicted to occur and suggest placement of license plate readers to detect them. The team will engage with the community and key stakeholders to collect and analyze feedback about the system. This project will help Warner Robins to maximize both deterrence and detection, with the aim of lowering crime rates across the city. Researchers from Georgia Tech and Middle Georgia State University will work with the city of Warner Robins on this project.

 

“Police departments are under-resourced and understaffed around the nation,” Warner Robins Mayor LaRhonda Patrick said. “The use of technology has been a force multiplier to reduce crime. This grant will give Chief [John] Wagner and the entire police department team the tools they need to provide public safety for our city. This is proactive crime prevention.”

 

Warner Robins project team:

 

The Georgia Smart Communities Challenge has a strong track record of success. Alumni have implemented their projects and garnered additional funding and technical assistance to continue projects beyond the two-year program period, allowing them to continue serving their residents and meeting community goals.

 

“As an initial Georgia Smart partner and long-time supporter of the Partnership, Georgia Power is proud to support innovation across the state through this announcement of a new cohort of Georgia Smart communities,” Chris Womack, chair, president and CEO of Georgia Power, said at the event. “This cohort of Georgia Smart community projects is unique because it is inclusive, it supports multi-disciplinary and multi-university projects, and it fosters collaboration, with all communities working toward smart resilience initiatives.”

 

About the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (GA Smart) program:

When municipalities experience 21st century challenges that require strategic planning, Georgia Smart is an award-winning program that assists leaders in identifying solutions that are researched, tested and evaluated by subject-matter experts. Often referred to as simply “Georgia Smart” this community research assistance program empowers communities on their journey to innovation by helping them to envision a smart and connected future. This program has served 20 communities across the state of Georgia, helping to activate over 140 technologies and facilitate over 30 community engagement meetings. Alumni of the program have gone on to experience wide-ranging success, including recognition on a national and international scale.

 

About the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation:

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

Lynne Henkiel Tapped to Lead Economic Development Lab

Lynne Henkiel has been named interim director of the Economic Development Lab in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute effective immediately.

 

She succeeds David Bridges who, in November 2021, was named vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s economic development arm.

 

Lynne Henkiel is interim director of the Economic Development Lab. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Economic Development Lab – through three focus areas — assists governments, communities, foundations, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in fostering value creation by applying innovative ideas, technology, and policy to economic growth-focused initiatives. The Economic Development Lab has had projects in all of Georgia’s 159 counties and in 24 international districts and territories. In 2021, its projects resulted in $11.3 million in investments to its clients and 174 jobs being saved and created.

 

Prior to becoming Economic Development Lab director, Henkiel led one of its focus areas, Innovation Ecosystems. That group works with communities, economic development organizations, and universities in assessing and planning local and regional ecosystems.

 

“Lynne is the ideal person to run the Economic Development Lab given her background and expertise,” Bridges said. “She has been an integral component in creating and implementing our innovative ecosystems development through the application of research and education.”

 

Henkiel, who has been with Georgia Tech for more than 20 years, is the primary awardee for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency’s (EDA) University Center award to Georgia Tech for the last two award periods. She also received the EDA Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) I6 award in 2014 among other funding grants. In addition, she is the developer for the incubation health assessments tool, community innovation assessment tool, and instrumental in developing the Georgia Tech Soft Landings program for international companies looking to expand into the U.S. market.

 

Her career at Georgia Tech started with a focus on commercializing innovations from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the Stennis Space Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center.

 

As part of her responsibilities in working with startup companies that licensed NASA technology, she collaborated with entrepreneurs to help them overcome many of the early pitfalls of they were likely to face, as well as develop educational programming to aid in their successes. She also managed the dual-use industry partnerships for the Marshall Space Flight Center, which involved working with large and startup businesses.

 

Henkiel also created the U.S. Expansion Practicum course at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, which partners MBA students with successful business owners — including Georgia Tech alumni — focused on U.S. business expansion. She has written several articles and is a sought-after ecosystem building expert who has delivered many presentations across the United States and internationally.

 

She leads the Innovation and Technology Commercialization Professional course in China and is evaluating strategies to expand the course to include Spanish, French, and Arabic-speaking countries.

 

Henkiel is an active member of the Technology Association of Georgia’s International Society Board, a board member of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), a member of the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) and a subject advisor to the New Space effort for the government of Chile.

 

Henkiel holds a master’s degree in the Management of Technology from the University of Miami, and had an extensive career in finance with IBM prior to joining Georgia Tech.

EI2 Hosts Colombian Delegation for Bootcamp Training

The Enterprise Innovation Institute hosted a delegation of technology professionals from Colombia for a week long bootcamp on technology extension services.

The Enterprise Innovation Institute’s (EI2) Innovation Ecosystems program recently hosted a delegation of 43 Colombian professionals, including presidents and executives of the Chambers of Commerce, SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) instructors, and government officials during a week-long bootcamp program on Technology Extension Services (TES) Oct. 4-8.

This program is part of the EI2’s ongoing collaboration with Confecámaras and Colombia Productiva to support the design of a TES public policy and the implementation of the country’s signature Fábricas de Productividad program of technology extension.

Since 2017, the Innovation Ecosystems has trained a total of 155 Colombian professionals at Georgia Tech and assisted 40 companies in Colombia. The Fábricas de Productividad has served more than 3,300 companies since its launch in 2018. It is recognized as the largest and most successful national program of Technology Extension in Latin America and the Caribbean for its reach and impact in a short period of time.

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.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Success Story: Design and Implementation of Technology Extension Services (TES) in Colombia

Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Lab and Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership programs work
with Colombian officials in design and implementation of productivity and competitiveness initiative.

 

Customer Profile
The project started in January 2017 through a collaboration with the Private Council of Competitiveness (CPC). At the end of the second year, Confecámaras, the national Association of Chambers of Commerce, became the client together with Colombia Productiva, a program of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) under which Fábricas de Productividad was created. The current client is Confecámaras, a national entity that supports the Colombian Chambers of Commerce to promote competitiveness and regional development.

 

Second group of Colombian Professionals that completed a Technology Extension boot camp at Georgia Tech, June 2018.

Situation
Colombia’s economy is the fourth largest in Latin America as measured by the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $327 billion (nominal, 2019). The country has experienced consistent economic growth over the last decade and policy makers have prioritized programs and initiatives to improve the quality of life and social well-being of citizens.  To continue sustaining economic growth, National Development Plans, federal public policies, and several think-tank studies, have identified the increase of productivity as one the pillars for economic growth. Colombia needs to strengthen its innovation and productivity strategy to create the conditions necessary for companies to adapt technological advances, and for the sophistication and diversification of sectors and products. Technology Extension represents a foundational base in a country’s strategy to build an effective innovation, sophistication, and productivity system. As an instrument that seeks to close the information gap, build internal capacity, and connect to existing knowledge supply, Technology Extension equips companies with productivity tools that are essential for incremental innovation. At the same, the national government should complement existing knowledge supply with instruments, capacity building, infrastructure, and business reforms to promote competitiveness.

 

Colombia has launched prior Technology Extension pilots and initiatives between 2012 and 2016. The program Fábricas de Productividad was designed in 2018 by the MinCIT, Colombia Productiva, National Planning Department (DNP), Chambers of Commerce, and the CPC as a program that consolidated the different extension initiatives until that date. Fábricas seeks to scale the lessons learned from previous programs and implement a permanent model of extension services that is jointly operated with local Chambers of Commerce. The design followed a rigorous process of reviewing best practices at the national and international level, through close collaboration with the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership(GaMEP) and the Economic Development Lab (EDL), two programs of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Created in 1960, the GaMEP is dedicated to delivering comprehensive technical, management and research assistant to fuel growth and advance manufacturing in the state. EDL works with communities, governments, and universities, in Georgia and beyond, to strengthen their innovation economies.

 

Solution
The initial scope of the collaboration with CPC was to conduct an assessment in four Colombian cities of the current programs and services available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The assessment included a Survey of the Manufacturing Services Industry in the four cities, which was modeled on the GaMEP’s bi-annual survey.  Following the completion of the initial assessment, the collaboration was expanded to include the following additional elements:

 

  • Public Policy and Strategic Advice for the design of the first national program of Technology Extension Services (TES), which was going to be modeled mainly after the GaMEP but also taking into consideration other international programs.
  • Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer to build a critical mass of Colombian Extensionists to deliver TES to companies, not only in the capital area, but at a regional level.

The expanded collaboration included a TES pilot program in four cities. EDL and GaMEP experts traveled to Colombia for consulting and advisory meetings, and to provide on-the-job mentoring by shadowing the local extensionists in training and providing feedback to improve their skills. Additionally, EDL designed a series of boot camp training programs at Georgia Tech for a group of 45 Colombian delegates, including private and public sector officials and extensionists, with the goal to build capacity and transfer best practices about TES, public policy, and strategic aspects to create a national Technology Extension program.

 

Results
Through this collaboration, the EDL and GaMEP teams contributed to the design and implementation of Fábricas de Productividad, which has become the flagship public-private initiative in Colombia to promote the productivity and competitiveness of SMEs. In total, 110 Colombian Extensionists have completed a boot camp program at Georgia Tech and received a certificate from Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE). 40 SME firms in Colombia were assisted by Georgia Tech- trained extension professionals and shadowed by GaMEP staff during the pilot program.

 

Fábricas de Productividad has had a tremendous impact in Colombia. Between Fall 2018 and Fall 2020 (cycle one), the program’s impact was 10 times the impact of its predecessor programs by serving 1,305 companies, compared to 129 Companies served by the previous program. These companies reported productivity increases of 32.8 percent across various the metrics. The initiative has received $10 million public-private investment; 27 of Colombia’s 31 departments (the equivalent of a state in the U.S. commonwealth or state) participating, and 48 of the 57 Chambers of Commerce are implementing the program. Furthermore, Fábricas has built the first national database of TES professionals with a total of 366 Extensionists registered to date.  A recent study conducted by Fedesarrollo (a non-profit center of economic and social research) on the effectiveness of the Fábricas de Productividad extensionists network, demonstrated outstanding results evidenced by a perception of high effectiveness and coherence with public policy. Compared with international references, Fábricas de Productividad has managed to consolidate a solid base in a few years of operation, with a wide network of experts, and a broad capacity to reach companies as in similar cases around the world.