Georgia Tech hosts Argentina IT delegation

(From left) Mary Waters, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Argentina Consul General Jorge Luis Lopez Menardi; Fernanda Yanson of the Argentina Investment and International Trade Agency, and Juli Golemi, manager of Georgia Tech’s Soft Landings Program. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the Georgia Institute of Technology’s the economic development arm, hosted a delegation of 12 technology companies from Argentina, as part of a multi-city tour to study successful innovation ecosystems.

 

The 2018 Argentina IT Commercial Mission to Atlanta’s Sept. 18 visit, sponsored by the Consulate General of Argentina and the Argentine American Chamber of Commerce, is designed to give insight into the Atlanta economy and as part of the 12 companies’ longer-term goal of establishing U.S. operations, said Argentina Consul General Jorge Luis Lopez Menardi.

 

“They’re looking for places to come and explore the possibilities of doing business,” Lopez Menardi said. “We thought the best place for them to come especially regarding an IT  mission would be to come to Georgia Tech. The prestige of the university, the talent and the innovation they are promoting from here, we decided the best place to hold the mission would be here.”

 

While on campus, the group met with Juli Golemi, manager of the Soft Landings Program at EI2.

 

Juli Golemi, Georgia Tech’s Soft Landings Program manager, addresses some of the issues foreign companies wanting to do business in the United States face. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Soft Landings, launched in 2018, is a Georgia Tech offering — through its Economic Development Lab (EDL) — that helps foreign companies that want to establish or increase their business operations in Georgia or better understand the U.S. economy. EDL helps communities and organizations apply innovative ideas to economic development in business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.

 

Soft Landings, Lopez Menardi said, offers what the visiting companies need as they explore doing business in Atlanta and the United States. The group, which includes companies in financial technology, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and gaming, wants to “get to know the environment, how to do business here, and how companies procure here,” Lopez Menardi said, adding they will use what they learn on this fact-finding trip to better prepare them for possible U.S. expansion and connections with American companies.

 

“They will want to build top from that and come up again with a specific plan of business to offer different companies,” he said, adding the group, which will visit Tech’s incubator, the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), will also visit Chicago to learn about its innovation ecosystem.

 

In a panel discussion that included Mary Waters, deputy commissioner of international trade at the Georgia Department of Economic Development; Fernanda Yanson, a foreign trade consultant with the Argentina Investment and International Trade Agency; Lopez Menardi, and Golemi, attendees learned about the different components of Georgia’s successful ecosystem.

 

Among those components: strong public and private partnerships between state government and industry, a friendly business climate, inter-state agency collaboration, unique assets such as Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and economic diversification, Waters said.

 

Georgia Department of Economic Development Deputy Commissioner Mary Waters explains why Georgia’s focus on innovation is factors into the state being consistently ranked as one of the best places in which to do business. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“Georgia’s economy is very diverse. We’re strong in agribusiness, we’re strong in aerospace, logistics, medical technologies, ICT, and automotive,” she said.

 

Underscoring that success model is technology, Waters said, noting the construction boom in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood and how Georgia Tech plays a critical role in that innovation-driven growth and expansion.

 

“Home Depot, Anthem, Delta Air Lines, Mercedes-Benz — they’re all creating innovation certners here in Atlanta and here in Georgia to take advantage of the Georgia Tech talent that we have. Those are companies and expansions that were not on our radar 10 years ago that now underpin the heart and soul of the Atlanta economy and Georgia’s economy,” Waters said.

 

“Whether you’re talking about automation technology in the manufacturing space or whether you’re talking about tech in agriculture and agribusiness, or innovation in the development of new technologies that will change the world, Georgia is very much in the heart of that and it gets to the heart of what you’re going to hear from Juli and the rest of Georgia Tech and from the private companies you will meet.”

Entrepreneurship group recognizes Enterprise Innovation Institute with award

InBIA Award

From left, Charles Ross, vice president for economic development and community at Kennesaw State University; Juli Golemi, senior project manager at EI2‘s Innovation Ecosystems program, and Kirstie Chadwick, InBIA’s president and CEO.

The International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), a global non-profit organization that serves entrepreneurship centers, program managers, directors, and policymakers in guiding and developing sustainable entrepreneur support programs, awarded the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) for being a longtime and dedicated member of the organization.

 

EI2 is the Georgia Institute of Technology’s chief business outreach and economic development organization. Its mission — through a comprehensive suite of programs and offerings — is to help business, industry, entrepreneurs, and economic developers across Georgia grow and remain competitive.

 

EI2 been an InBIA member for more than 30 years.

 

The award was presented at InBIA’s International Conference on Business Incubation in Seattle, Washington, which was held in late March 2017.

 

InBIA recently named EI2 a Soft Landings site, a designation which recognizes entrepreneurship centers that excel in providing international companies with various services to ensure a smooth landing in the United States.

Enterprise Innovation Institute receives Soft Landings designation

cFfNSrEyThe International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) designated the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) as a Soft Landings site.

 

InBIA is a global non-profit organization that serves entrepreneurship centers, program managers, directors and policymakers, by helping to guide and develop viable entrepreneur support programs across a host of industries.

 

The Soft Landings designation recognizes entrepreneurship centers that excel in providing international companies with various services to ensure a smooth landing in the United States. The designation was given to a select group of U.S. and international entrepreneurship centers and is effective for two years.

 

EI2 is the Georgia Institute of Technology’s chief business outreach and economic development organization. Its core mission is to help business, industry, entrepreneurs, and economic developers across Georgia grow and remain competitive.

 

In the last several years, EI2 has worked with several international companies and clients through its Startup Ecosystems program, which works with communities and organizations to analyze and apply innovation-based ideas to drive economic development.

 

“We are pleased that we were able to receive this valuable designation from InBIA, it will serve to open more opportunities for companies and entrepreneurs to consider Georgia as a landing spot for their U.S. market entrance,” said Lynne Henkiel, Startup Ecosystems’ director of innovation ecosystems practices. “This designation will bring a new level of exposure for international companies looking to establish themselves in the U.S., and specifically Atlanta in the heart of our innovative ecosystem here at Georgia Tech.”

Georgia Institute of Technology selects Chris Downing to head Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2)

Chris Downing, Vice President, Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Chris Downing, Vice President, Enterprise Innovation Institute.

 

The Georgia Institute of Technology has named Chris Downing vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), effective immediately.

The announcement ends a six-month national search for a new vice president, following Stephen Fleming’s decision to step down from the position in December 2015. As the Institute’s chief business outreach organization, EI2 is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development.

 

Downing will report directly to Stephen E. Cross, executive vice president for Research at Georgia Tech.

 

“I am thankful for this opportunity and I remain focused on our core mission at EI2 to fulfill Georgia Tech’s commitment to economic development,” Downing said. “Working with the dedicated professionals at EI2, we will enhance Georgia Tech’s work in designing the future through our service to entrepreneurs, business, researchers, innovators, and the people of Georgia.”

 

Downing had served as EI2’s associate vice president since 2012 and as interim vice president since October 2015. He has been at Georgia Tech in various leadership roles related to economic development since 1988.

 

“EI2, including its multiple programs that support Georgia startups, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs across the state, serves all aspects of economic development in Georgia. It is a vital component of the innovation ecosystem we have built at Tech Square,” Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson said. “Chris has worked diligently to support and enhance our economic development initiatives, as well as to forge and maintain strong partnerships with other organizations across the state to strengthen the Georgia economy.”

 

Downing, whose past posts at Georgia Tech included serving as research engineer, program manager, regional manager, and director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) — EI2’s largest program — has brought national recognition to the unit and several awards, including the 2014 Innovation Award in Economic Development from the Association of Public and Land Grant Institutions, the 2014 Outstanding Research Park Award from the Association of University Research Parks, and the National MEP Innovation Award in 2011 for the GaMEP.

 

Chris Downing - Vice President EI2

Chris Downing (right) accepts the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s 2016 Global Impact Award for Innovation from Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson on June 30, 2016. The presentation followed the announcement that Downing was named vice president of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.

“Chris has elevated EI2’s commitment to technology commercialization, business and industry outreach, and entrepreneurship,” Cross said. “Through his leadership, EI2’s stature and prominence in Georgia as the state’s most comprehensive economic development organization has risen. His passion and commitment to EI2’s mission has helped to make Tech Square the Southeast’s premier neighborhood for innovation and economic development and is instrumental in helping to define other innovation neighborhoods adjacent to the rest of the campus.”

 

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2):

The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI²) is the Georgia Institute of Technology’s chief business outreach and economic development organization. EI²’s core mission is to provide an exhaustive suite of programs to assist business, industry, entrepreneurs, and economic developers across Georgia. As the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-base program of its kind, EI² helps enterprises of all kinds and sizes and across all sectors improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology, and innovation. For more information, please visit innovate.gatech.edu.