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.
  • APPLY:  https://innovate.gatech.edu/enterpise-6-application-2024/
  • QUESTIONS?… E-mail: krystle.richardson@innovate.gatech.edu

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.

About CHIPS4CHIPS
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.

Georgia Tech EDA University Center Funds Redevelopment and Housing Studies for Two Georgia Towns

Analyses to help community leaders create long-term
residential home development growth strategies
The Depot building.
The AB&A Historic Train Depot in Fitzgerald, Georgia, is one of the community’s key attractions. The Depot is home to the Blue & Gray Museum, the Genealogy Research Center, and Collins Railroad Collection.

FITZGERALD, Ga. — In many ways, this South Georgia town boasts the best of small rural communities. Just 23 miles east of Interstate 75, Fitzgerald has a busy downtown thoroughfare with shops, antique stores, and eateries. It has a modern airport with a 5,000-foot runway, an active mainline railroad, and industrial parks. It’s also home to a museum with a nod to its 1895 beginnings as a community and haven for veterans who fought on both sides of the Civil War.

Fitzgerald also has a successful history of industrial recruitment that has provided the community with a significant manufacturing base. Recent capital investments in wood products, food and beverage processing, plastics, and manufacturing have increased employment, personal income growth, and the community’s GDP.

With its local economy steadily improving, this community of 9,000 is also looking to boost its new home development construction activity. Now, city leaders and officials from surrounding Ben Hill County are working with the Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) and EDA University Center at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute to produce a study to figure out a viable strategy.

The study is funded in part through an Economic Development Research Program (EDRP) grant, which is administered by the EDA University Center. These grants are targeted toward economically distressed communities that can’t afford the cost of this type of comprehensive economic development research. EDA University Center grants offset some expenses that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive to rural communities.

CEDR is conducting the six-month research and analysis project in Fitzgerald, which entails looking at housing that’s for sale, determining what the rental rates are, and developing housing development strategy recommendations for the entire city, said Betsy McGriff, a CEDR associate project manager and lead researcher on the study. It will also include ways to maximize cost effective development strategies, such as new home construction in historic neighborhoods to help revitalize them.

“Our objective is to get a much better understanding of the factors that are deterring new home development,” said Jason Dunn, executive director of the Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County Development Authority. “We want to create more homeownership and have the data needed to influence new residential development in Ben Hill County.

Jason Dunn portrait
Jason Dunn is executive director of the Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County Development Authority.

The need for the Fitzgerald study comes as the community has seen increased demand for more housing with options in both single family, owner-occupied homes, as well as rentals. But the city’s existing inventory isn’t enough to meet the demand, nor is it energy efficient, comprised of buildings that are at least 100 years old.

“We believe the study will give us the market data needed to pursue a public-private partnership to meet the community needs and lead to residential development that will provide housing solutions in one of Georgia’s most rural areas,” Dunn said.

CEDR is also doing a nine-month study for the City of Jefferson Downtown Development Authority, located in North Georgia’s Jackson County, about 22 miles northwest of Athens. That multifaceted project, which is also partly funded by an EDRP grant, includes a housing market analysis to create a strategy to get more residential housing units built closer to its downtown.

It also includes a retail market analysis to determine what goods and services are needed in the area. It also includes visioning sessions to advise the Downtown Development Authority and help its leaders prioritize strategies and future steps needed for maximum community impact.

The Missing Middle

The two projects reflect the growing housing challenge that scores of communities face across the country said Alan Durham, a CEDR researcher and director of the Basic Economic Development Course.

“Across the U.S., right now we’re short about 4 million housing units. And a lot of those missing units are entry level affordable housing, and workforce housing for police, fire fighters, nurses, and teachers. That’s what’s called the missing middle,” said Durham, who has been researching the national trends and leads the Jefferson project research.

As costs rise, developers are trending toward building very high-end homes. While the high-end housing market is doing well, not enough at the other end — entry-level housing — is being built, squeezing out a market segment communities need to attract.

“Millennials and Gen Z, they can’t even get their foot in the door in the housing market anymore,” Durham said. “The ideal range on housing expenditures is 25% to 30% of gross income. In reality, many are spending over 50% of their wages on housing, leaving them cash-poor to deal with basic necessities and unforeseen expenses.”

Part of the research CEDR will do includes data analyses of both communities. The research will break both communities into their respective income tiers to see how many people make a set amount of money per year, Durham said.

Based on the different income tiers, the CEDR analyses in Fitzgerald and Jefferson will guide the types of housing price points leaders in both communities should pursue.

Detailed Analysis

In addition to the income tiers and bands major employers in each community pay, the CEDR studies will analyze employee commuting patterns, where residents shop for staple goods and services, and other factors that shape where people decide to live.

“These are very rural markets so our work to pull meaningful and actionable data will be different than in a metro area where it’s a little clearer or there’s just more data to be had,” McGriff said. “Our focus and approach will be a lot more granular to assess the demands of a rural market and pull out really meaningful data.”

Armed with that data, both communities will be positioned to develop strategies for targeted engagement with the right mix of investors and developers, McGriff said.

“They’re going to have to sell their communities to investors using the data we produce and the recommendations that we develop together for development strategies,” McGriff said. “These EDA University Center grants are really an investment tool for economic development, and they can leverage that money to attract investments to their communities, which could lead to more jobs and increased tax base, which just then cycles into helping these communities thrive.”

About the Georgia Tech EDA University Center
The Georgia Tech EDA University Center is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) through its EDA University Center program. Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Tech EDA University Center supports outreach activities that seek to promote job creation, development of high-skilled regional talent pools, business expansion in innovation clusters, and create and nurture regional economic ecosystems in the state of Georgia and other states within the EDA Atlanta region (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). The Center’s primary focus areas are innovation-led ecosystem support for universities and communities and strategic economic development support for distressed communities. To learn more, please visit grow.gatech.edu/eda-university-center.

About the Center for Economic Development Research
The Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) is a collaborative team of economists, city planners, and economic development practitioners. Our talented economic development professionals have the research and implementation experience needed to help economic developers, community leaders, and industries alike understand the opportunities and challenges in fostering local economic development. CEDR is a unit of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s chief business outreach and economic development organization. To learn more, please visit cedr.gatech.edu.

Qcells Expansion Puts Focus on Georgia Tech’s iWorks Program

Offering connects employers and community leaders
with resources to drive economic development success

The good news: Northwest Georgia is slated to get a big economic development boost following a major announcement and planned company expansion that promises to create 3,500 new jobs. The challenge: In this still-tight job market, where’s a company to start?

When the company in question is Dalton-based solar-panel manufacturer Qcells, which has a 1,000-employee Dalton expansion set to begin manufacturing in August and a second expansion bringing 2,500 employees to Bartow County in 2024, a logical place to start is Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Specifically: iWorks.

The organization – technically named Igniting Workforce Opportunities and Reinforcing Knowledge and Skills – operates in Northwest Georgia and launched in 2017 out of former Gov. Nathan Deal’s High Demand Career Initiative (HDCI). That initiative brought together the University System of Georgia, Technical College System of Georgia, K-12 school systems in Georgia, and the private sector to help fill workforce gaps in high demand fields like advanced manufacturing in the northwest part of the state.

Leigh Hopkins, iWorks project manager and CEDR senior project manager

“We see ourselves in a facilitator role making connections,” said Leigh Hopkins, the iWorks project manager and senior project manager for Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR).

iWorks is a program of CEDR, which is housed in the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s comprehensive economic development unit. iWorks is able to connect the dots in Northwest Georgia because CEDR has been working on projects including strategic plans and workforce development there since 2012. For example, iWorks recently sponsored a job fair, where 106 people found employment, including several who went to work at Qcells.

“We also had a webinar in November called After the Ribbon Cutting, that addressed what happens after these big announcements like the one from Qcells are made,” Hopkins said. “How is the community supposed to find people to fill the jobs that are coming?”

It’s an important topic for the region of about 700,000 people, and just one reason the iWorks board includes representatives from local manufacturers such as Qcells, economic and workforce developers, technical college representatives, and others, who work in concert to help deliver a growing and educated workforce to the region. One key to ensuring that new industry and new expansions can be successful.

Candice McKie, CEDR project manager

“iWorks is a trusted partner and conduit in helping our member companies and organizations work together to address common issues,” said Candice McKie, CEDR project manager. “We have the ability to have all of the key players in one room to discuss some of the same shared workforce challenges, and to be able to relay that information to the development authorities, the chambers, and the school systems, instead of having to go to those groups individually.”

Lisa Nash, the senior director of human resources; environmental, health, and safety; and general affairs at Qcells, echoed McKie’s sentiments.

“Being a part of iWorks puts at my fingertips the tools that I need to understand the region,” Nash said, explaining why she is so committed to the organization’s mission. “As an HR professional in this labor market, I have to understand what everyone else is doing. I need to know what other company is expanding, what other company is maybe not doing so well, what’s going to impact our labor market, and what’s happening from a wage perspective.”

iWorks gives her a place to learn all of that in one monthly meeting.

“iWorks understands the industry and they understand this region, and the needs of the business leaders in order to be successful,” Nash said. “Being a part of iWorks gives me a bird’s eye view of what I need or what countermeasures I need to put in place to be prepared for obstacles or challenges.”

While iWorks is many things, it isn’t a problem solver, she said. “They give you the ideas and the connections for you to solve your problems, for you to be able to come up with resources, they connect you with so many resources.”

Some of those resources are the webinars iWorks has facilitated. In addition to After the Ribbon Cutting, the organization as focused on topics such as affordable housing, another key component of a successful workforce, and nontraditional hiring, which includes successful second-chance programs for people who have been released from prison.

“What we hear from manufacturers is that they’re beating their heads against the wall trying to find employees,” said Hopkins. “We’ve found that people who come from a second chance background, people who are really targeted with employment opportunities, are much more successful and the employers are better able to retain them than folks who just fill out an application.”

iWorks also puts together tours of manufacturing facilities, including Qcells, for area high school students, who may not know what they want to do after graduation. “Just getting exposure to industry has been very helpful for the students,” says Hopkins.

Other programs include Be Pro Be Proud, an initiative led by the Cherokee County Office of Economic Development that introduces high school students to a variety of industries through a hands-on mobile lab. iWorks sponsored the mobile workshop’s visits to 10 high schools across the region. “We had a total of 963 students visit the mobile workshop, and 86% of those signed up to receive information and career opportunities that are related to their industry of interest,” said McKie.

iWorks is also working to help expand Project Purpose, a summer program that connects high school students to companies in the area.

The goal of all these programs is to help local companies and those that are moving into the region find the well-trained workforce they need. And while the work just got 3,500 times harder, the iWorks board is excited about the expansion of Qcells.

John Zegers, iWorks board co-chair and GaMEP’s NW Georgia regional manager

“It’s important for our board to stay flexible and fluid,” said John Zegers, co-chair of the iWorks board and Northwest Georgia regional manager for the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership. “That flexibility allows us to move where the need is and where the trends go. I think the makeup of our board is perfect for that, because we’re all on the front lines, we know what’s going on, and we’ll be able to keep our group relevant for what’s needed out there.”

Despite her extremely busy schedule as the Dalton expansion barrels toward August, Nash says she isn’t about to give up her seat on iWorks’ board.

“iWorks is committed to connecting education and the workforce so that we have a sustainable workforce for the future of manufacturing,” she said. “They’re starting younger and younger getting these kids interested in industry. I think iWorks does a really good job of balancing the current workforce and the future workforce.”

Learn more about the science of solar power and ways Georgia Tech researchers are helping build clean energy infrastructure in the state in $2.3B Qcells Solar Power Investment Holds Major Potential for Georgia.

 

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.