Georgia Tech Delegation Advancing Partnerships with India

David Bridges, Bernard Kippelen, Devesh Ranjan, and Shreyes Melkote visiting Raj Ghat in India.

The Georgia Institute of Technology sent a small delegation to India April 8-12 for the purpose of strengthening existing and building new collaborative opportunities in the fields of research, education, and economic development.

The team was comprised of Bernard Kippelen, vice provost for International Initiatives and Steven A. Denning Chair for Global Engagement; Devesh Ranjan, Eugene C. Gwaltney, Jr. School Chair in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering; Shreyes Melkote, Morris M. Bryan Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering and executive director of the Novelis Innovation Hub at Georgia Tech; and David Bridges, vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Over the course of the week, they met with representatives of the Indian government, leadership at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai and New Delhi, and an array of private-sector companies ranging from startups to corporations, including the Aditya Birla Group, which is associated with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science at Pilani and Hyderabad and is the parent company of Novelis Inc., which is headquartered in Atlanta.

A number of factors make the country a promising candidate for future collaborative projects with Georgia Tech. Among them are an increase in onshore manufacturing, government education and research strategies that support further development of talent and innovation, a large potential for creation of workforce training programs, and an openness to alliances between business and public interests.

In addition to observing a growth mindset among those they encountered in government, university, and corporate contexts, the Georgia Tech group also noticed an overall receptivity to engagement with top-tier U.S. universities, especially engineering and medical schools.

“Looking at the number of undergraduates coming from India to study in the U.S., I believe it’s the right time to invest in our relationship with India,” said Ranjan. “The growth in the country in the last 10 years is unlike anything I’ve seen before. When the economy goes up, so does the desire for higher education.”

Indeed, higher education was central to the group’s itinerary. For Kippelen, one trip highlight was an “inspiring” visit to New Delhi, where he and fellow Georgia Tech delegates “had a productive time and stimulating discussions” with representatives from India’s Department of Higher Education, the University Grants Commission, and the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India.

Ranjan acknowledged the strong value India places on education and tied that ethos, in part, to the historical influence of Gandhi. “A memorable moment of our trip to India was visiting Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. My colleagues were able to learn more about him and how he pushed kids toward an educated society,” Ranjan said, adding, “Anyone who goes to India usually begins their visit by paying homage to the Father of the Nation.”

Across a range of institutions, the visiting cohort took opportunities to engage with Georgia Tech graduates, who were enthusiastic about strengthening ties to their alma mater and more than willing to facilitate fruitful connections to further the cohort’s discovery mission.

“I was most impressed by the Georgia Tech alumni,” said Bridges, citing “how supportive they were of us coming to India and how committed they were to being part of a successful collaboration. The alumni network there was just phenomenal.”

Melkote especially appreciated the warm welcome extended to the team by government officials and IIT faculty and leadership at the New Delhi and Mumbai campuses, as well as the overall eagerness to establish and further strengthen relationships with Georgia Tech.

He recalled the Georgia Tech cohort’s meetings with the Aditya Birla Group — a $65 billion global conglomerate with a wide range of holdings worldwide — and the leadership of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science at Pilani and Hyderabad, characterizing these encounters as “very enlightening.”

Said Melkote, “It is clear to me that we have a number of opportunities for expanding Georgia Tech’s impact in India through academic, research, and economic development initiatives.”

David Bridges Receives Fulbright Specialist Award to Slovak Republic at Digital Coalition

David Bridges.

The U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board are pleased to announce that David Bridges, vice president of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, has received a Fulbright Specialist Program award.

Bridges, who was named Fulbright Specialist in February of 2024,  will complete a project at Digital Coalition in Slovak Republic that aims to exchange knowledge and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions, and communities both in the U.S. and overseas through a variety of educational and training activities within Public Administration.

Bridges is one of over 400 U.S. citizens who share expertise with host institutions abroad through the Fulbright Specialist Program each year. Recipients of Fulbright Specialist awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership in their field, and their potential to foster long-term cooperation between institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbrighters address critical global issues in all disciplines, while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 60 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 88 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 39 who have served as a head of state or government.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit eca.state.gov/fulbright or contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office by telephone 202.632.6452 or e-mail eca-press@state.gov.

NIH awards $2.9M grant to Annoviant for heart disease technology advancement

Annoviant co-founders Ajay Houde and Naren Vyavahare, CEO and chief technology officer, respectively.

ATLANTA — Annoviant Inc. a health technology company and member startup in the Enterprise Innovation Institute‘s Center for MedTech Excellence, is receiving a $2.99 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to further scale the development and commercialization of its TxGuardTM pulmonary-valved conduit for pediatric heart disease.

The award follows two Phase I NIH grants the company received, the most recent being in 2021.

Annoviant’s patented TxGuard™ stands at the forefront of technological innovation in conduit replacements for treating congenital heart disease (CHD), the most prevalent birth defect globally and a leading cause of birth-related mortality, the company said.

CHD encompasses a broad range of abnormalities that disrupt blood flow to and from the heart. It affects approximately 40,000 newborns annually — or 1% of births in the U.S. — and 1.35 million worldwide. With an estimated 2.9 million CHD patients in the U.S. alone, the need for advanced solutions is paramount.

“This marks a significant milestone for Annoviant as we accelerate our pursuit of impactful innovation to save lives,” said Annoviant CEO and co-founder Ajay Houde, Ph.D. “It validates our hypothesis and shows the NIH’s confidence in our ability to make good progress. Because we are a small startup, it gives private investors the confidence to invest with us and more companies working with us across the broader ecosystem.”

Addressing critical shortcomings observed in current commercial devices, TxGuard™ offers clinical advantages, notably its resistance to calcification, thrombosis, infection, and the host cell integration. This cutting-edge technology marks a new era in pediatric cardiac interventions, providing durable pulmonary valved grafts that adapt and regenerate alongside patients, minimizing the need for multiple re-operations over their lifetimes.

“Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in the U.S. and is the most common birth defect in our newborns,” said Center for MedTech Excellence Director Nakia Melecio, who worked with Annoviant to help it scale and reviewed its federal funding submissions.

The Center for MedTech Excellence, which launched in 2022, works with early-stage life sciences startups that have specific obstacles that young tech companies in other sectors don’t face.

“This is a critical milestone for the company, and validates its research and work, thus far,” Melicio said. “Annoviant’s technology is tackling several challenges that the market currently faces and elevating the possibility for better patient outcomes in management of congestive heart failure.”

Pediatric patients with CHD often undergo multiple cardiovascular surgeries throughout their lives, with associated costs totaling billions for the U.S. healthcare industry. TxGuard™ offers a transformative solution to this ongoing challenge, promising extended durability and reduced healthcare burden for patients and providers alike.

He credited the company’s work with the Center for MedTech Excellence and being a health tech startup in the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s startup incubator, as being pivotal in Annoviant’s growth.

ATDC SBIR/STTR Catalyst Connie Casteel, who works with the incubator’s portfolio companies to help the prepare for these federal, non-dilutive funding grants, had worked with Annoviant on its federal funding approach and strategy.

“We went through the 16-week program with the MedTech Center and it really helped us think through the various aspects of the commercialization process and operational challenges we would face,” Houde said. “Greg Jungles at ATDC was also instrumental in helping us.  I’m really thankful for Nakia and his work with the MedTech Center and Greg and the team at ATDC.”

FEMA Awards $1.5 million to Georgia Tech and Alliance Solutions Group to Develop National Climate Resilience Training

The grant supports the creation of curriculum and tools to empower disadvantaged communities and instill equity

ATLANTA — Global climate change is causing an increase in the frequency, severity, and persistence of destructive weather events. These events coupled with economic- and health-related crises have exacerbated disproportionate effects and inequitable outcomes for vulnerable populations.

To help mitigate these outcomes, Georgia Institute of Technology will work with Alliance Solutions Group (ASG) to create a training and education curriculum that fosters partnerships, information sharing, and problem solving among community-based organizations, local and state leaders, first responders, economic development organizations, and emergency managers.

“We are seeing more and more severe weather events, many of them having a disproportionate impact on small and underserved communities in our country,” said David Bridges, vice president of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “This is an opportunity to use our expertise and networks to help communities that have been hit hardest solve this growing crisis.”

Supported by a three-year funding award of $1.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the training will provide community leaders with the tools and resources to develop climate adaptation strategies that will empower disadvantaged communities and instill equity.

“Our needs analysis identified training gaps that compound existing inequities and highlight the need for systemic solutions to improve climate literacy and better integrate underserved populations into all elements of the National Preparedness System,” said Bob Campbell, founder and CEO of ASG. “This education series will support communities around the country in fostering partnerships to develop and implement equitable climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

ASG, a Newport News, Virginia-based company that provides innovative emergency management and environmental solutions to the public, private, and defense sectors, is partnering with the Enterprise Innovation Institute and Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the research, development, and delivery of the training.

“I am excited to contribute to these courses on climate resilience with lessons we have learned developing a course at Georgia Tech on using climate information to improve the resilience of coastal communities to sea level rise,” said Alex Robel, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who will be part of the team developing content. “Our goal is to disseminate best practices to emergency management agencies around the U.S.”

FEMA developed the grant to further implementation of its goals to instill equity in emergency management and lead the country in climate resilience.

Doreen Kincaid, project manager for the grant

“This is an important opportunity for Georgia Tech to build on its experience with the Smart Sea Level Sensors project in Chatham County that provides real-time information on sea level rise to underserved communities,” said Doreen Kincaid, the project manager on the grant. “It will also allow Georgia Tech and ASG to leverage their partnership and experience on two previous FEMA grants related to hazardous materials and economic recovery to develop and deliver a training program with measurable results.”

National in scope with a mix of virtual and in-person delivery, the training courses will be available in all 50 states, six territories, and 573 Native American communities. In support of the Justice40 Initiative, President Joe Biden’s order to direct 40% of the benefits of federal investments related to climate change and training to disadvantaged communities, the team will prioritize training for those communities. As courses are completed and ready for delivery, they will be posted in FEMA’s National Training and Educational Division online catalogue.

As community leaders complete training, they will be equipped to conduct climate risk and social vulnerability assessments, outline strategies for incorporating vulnerable populations into plans, develop risk communication strategies, establish plans to stabilize community lifelines, and understand and apply climate forecasts into emergency management programs.

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 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. 

About School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, part of the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech, produces breakthrough discoveries through research and prepares students to advance the knowledge of Earth sciences as they become leaders in academia, government, and industry. EAS applies scientific knowledge and principles to inform and support public policy, resource management, and environmental stewardship. The internationally recognized School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences has delivered 15 climate-related courses to more than 5,000 students over the last 10 years.

About Alliance Solutions Group, Inc.

Alliance Solutions Group (ASG) is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that offers emergency management and environmental, health, and safety solutions to all levels of the public, private, and defense sectors. ASG’s team of strategists, thought leaders, subject matter experts, and instructors have an average of 20+ years of experience in their respective fields. In meeting customers’ needs, ASG leverages thousands of lessons learned, best practices and business processes that have been synthesized over 17 years. Having conducted over 15,000 workplace audits and several thousand training and exercise events, ASG has built a solid understanding of the challenges facing both private and public sector organizations in multiple sectors. ASG’s perspective spans from the local to the global, with offices across the U.S. and throughout the world, and partnerships with municipal, state, federal, military, and private sector clients in 48 states and 17 countries. Learn more at asg-inc.org.

About the Federal Emergency Management Agency

At FEMA, we employ more than 20,000 people nationwide. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we have 10 regional offices located across the country. We leverage a tremendous capacity to coordinate within the federal government to make sure America is equipped to prepare for and respond to disasters. Our mission is helping people before, during and after disasters. Our core values and guiding principles help us achieve it. To learn more, visit fema.gov.

New Faces of the Enterprise Innovation Institute

This month, we’re launching a feature to introduce new colleagues at the Enterprise Innovation Institute. With remote work continuing, it’s often hard to get to know one another, so we’re looking for new ways to make connections. If you run into some of these people or someone else you don’t know at a meeting or on Zoom or Teams, introduce yourself. Work relationships are important to well-being, and this is just one way to help cultivate those relationships.

 

Carnellia Ajasin

Carnellia Ajasin, Entrepreneur in Residence, Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)

In her role, Carnellia will support, cultivate, and advise ATDC member companies in ways to help them grow and scale. A particular focus will be companies working in automation and robotics in support of the partnership with Amazon Global Robotics.

 

Carnellia is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Mind Katalyst, a humanity-centered, tech-innovation, and sustainability venture studio. She was named a 2022 Georgia Titan 100, which recognizes business visionaries in the state.

 

She stays active outside of work, pursuing interests that include travel, cycling, yoga, and cooking. A graduate of Drexel University in Pennsylvania, Carnellia has a bachelor’s in computer science and a master’s in information science and computer technology.

 

Marc Carson

Marc Carson, Lead Startup Catalyst, ATDC

Marc will lead a team of startup catalysts that provides services to help ATDC companies grow, connect, and scale.

 

Marc was the founder, president, and CEO of startup Keystone Industries and founder, president and CEO of HOTPACK. He also serves as chair of the planning commission for the city of Braselton, Georgia.

 

His extensive business experience will go a long way at ATDC, where he looks forward to helping mentor young tech entrepreneurs as they make the tough decisions that will move their companies forward.

 

A fan of the outdoors, Marc enjoys hunting, fishing, playing golf, and spending time with family. He graduated from Gannon University in Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in finance.

 

“ATDC provides business coaching to help startup founders reach scale,” said ATDC Director John Avery. “We look for coaches who have broad backgrounds in both startups and in large companies. These two worlds are very different, but our goal is to help founders get from one to the other. Both Marc and Carnellia have very successful careers, including experience in both large and small companies. We couldn’t be more excited to have them on the ATDC team.”

 

Katerina Dimovski

Katerina Dimovski, Project Manager, Energy and Sustainability Services, Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)

Katerina will provide technical assistance to manufacturers in the areas of energy management and sustainability.

 

A native of the Republic of North Macedonia, Katerina brings expertise in energy efficiency that will help GaMEP clients manage energy challenges. She worked for nine years as an energy manager in steel production and most recently as a national energy management and energy efficiency consultant for UNIDO, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, in North Macedonia.

 

Outside of work, she enjoys fencing, cycling, and running. She is a graduate of Saints Cyril and Methodius University, in Skopje, North Macedonia, with a bachelor’s in computer system engineering and automation and a master’s in mechanical engineering.

 

“Katerina’s experience and perspective from working as an energy efficiency consultant for UNIDO and as an energy manager in the steel manufacturing industry, will allow her to advise our clients on energy management best practices and international standards,” said Tim Israel, director of GaMEP. “We are very happy to have her join our team, allowing us to continue to grow our sustainability service offerings for manufacturers.”

 

Vance Merritt, Project Manager, Process Improvement, South Georgia, GaMEP

Vance Merritt

Vance will focus on manufacturing clients in South and Central Georgia, by providing services in lean manufacturing, process improvement and stability, lean six sigma, and leading cross-functional teams.

 

Vance, who lives in Perry, Georgia, has years of leadership experience in manufacturing, most recently as Tennessee plant manager at Metalpha, Bridgestone Tire’s U.S. supplier of steel tire cord.

 

At the end of the day, World War II history and John Grisham books command his attention. He also enjoys travel and being outdoors. A Georgia Tech grad, with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, Vance is also a certified lean six sigma black belt.

 

“We are thrilled that Vance will help us expand our network of resources in the south part of the state,” Israel said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge from his previous experience as a plant manager and in other manufacturing leadership roles, that will allow him to help companies navigate many challenges from process improvement to workforce development.”

 

Kayla Burns, Program and Operations Manager, Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (Partnership)

Kayla Burns

Kayla will oversee development and implementation of the Partnership’s programs and operations. She will work with research, academic, and administrative staff, along with vendors and sponsors, as well as other internal and external partners.

 

Kayla has nearly a decade of experience in business development, program management, and operations for BlueSprig, which offers services to children with autism, and at HNCS, a company that specializes in home podiatry care for diabetic, geriatric, and other home-bound patients.

 

She is pursuing a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program at the University of North Georgia in psychology and industrial and organizational psychology.

 

Cody Cocchi, Student Engagement Manager, Partnership

Cody Cocchi

Cody will oversee the advancement of student engagement efforts for the Partnership, helping to develop a more inclusive Georgia and the next generation of leaders across the state.

 

Before joining the Partnership, Cody, who lives in Brunswick, Georgia, served as the interim director of service learning and undergraduate research at the College of Coastal Georgia. He looks forward to bringing the skills he developed there to the Partnership as he works to enhance opportunities for all Georgians.

 

Working at Georgia Tech is a dream come true for Cody, who grew up a Georgia Tech football and basketball fan. He also enjoys the beach, running, and landscaping. He has a doctorate in education in leadership from Valdosta State University, a master’s in higher education administration from Georgia Southern University, and a bachelor’s in history from Georgia State University.

 

Polly Sattler

Polly Sattler, Strategic Relations Manager, Partnership

Polly will develop strategic relationships across the state and work to increase awareness of and support for Partnership programs.

 

Before joining the Partnership, she worked as the sustainability manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where she directed sustainability initiatives at the world’s busiest airport. She looks forward to bringing her enthusiasm for and expertise in sustainability to her work with the Partnership.

 

She enjoys kayaking and canoeing, travel, taking art classes, and playing Wingspan. Polly has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Georgia and a master’s in environmental and resource policy from George Washington University.

 

“We are thrilled that Cody, Polly, and Kayla have joined our leadership team,” said Partnership Executive Director Debra Lam. “Together they will deepen our student and strategic engagement and strengthen our operations so that we can continue our mission of accelerating innovation, opportunity, and shared economic prosperity across the state and beyond.”

Enterprise 6 Internship Program Applications Open for Summer 2022

Under Enterprise 6, Georgia Tech students can work on dynamic economic development projects.

Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is now accepting applications for its competitive 2022 Enterprise 6 Summer Internship.

 

The 2022 cohort has 12 available slots and selected interns will engage in active projects that further the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s economic development mission. (See what the 2021 cohort of students said of their Enterprise 6 experiences here.)

 

The Enterprise 6 program is open to undergraduate and graduate students who were enrolled at Georgia Tech for Spring 2022. Selected students will be mentored by a research faculty member. Enterprise 6 interns will meet remotely on a bi-weekly basis to share observations about their experiences.

 

The Enterprise Innovation Institute is the longest running, most diverse, university-based economic development organization in the United States. Since the launch of its founding program more than 60 years ago, the Enterprise Innovation Institute has grown to serve innovative enterprises of all sizes — from pre-company teams to startups to ongoing businesses — and energize the ecosystems in which they reside.

 

While Enterprise 6 positions are not for academic credit, the program does offer real world experience and compensation. The organization is offering $25 per hour for 20 hours per week of effort. The internships — which are sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research — begin May 2 and end July 29. Students will work remotely during the internship period, but they may be asked to work from the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s offices in Tech Square as needed depending upon the project they are working on and supporting.

 

There are 12 projects for this summer and interested students may apply to no more than 2 projects. See the project outlines from the application link: https://innovate.gatech.edu/enterprise-6-application/

 

  • 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 Georgia Tech Students.
  • WHEN: May 2, 2022 to July 29, 2022.
  • LOCATION: Hybrid (work remotely and in Technology Square, Atlanta).
  • DEADLINE: Résumés due March 15, 2022.
  • APPLY: gatech.edu/enterprise-6-application/
  • QUESTIONS?… E-mail: kincaid@innovate.gatech.edu

Karen Fite to Lead Enterprise Innovation Institute as Interim Vice President

Karen Fite.

The Georgia Institute of Technology has named Karen Fite interim vice president of its economic development unit, the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).

 

Fite, who is EI²’s associate vice president, will lead the 12-program organization while Georgia Tech conducts a national search for a permanent vice president to succeed Chris Downing, who retired in June after 31 years of service.

 

EI2is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development.

 

Fite, who also is director of EI2’s Business & Industry Services group of programs, has more than 26 years of economic development experience at Tech.

 

The Business & Industry Services group includes the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), EI2’s largest economic development offering.

 

It also includes:

 

“As director of business and industry services, Karen has successfully provided leadership in critical areas of economic development. We have full confidence that she will continue EI2’s momentum and reach in Georgia and beyond as we conduct the search for a permanent vice president,” said Chaouki Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research.

 

“She brings an enormous wealth of expertise and critical understanding to economic development and how to connect businesses, manufacturers, and communities to Georgia Tech’s vast innovation and technology resources to elevate their competitive position and economic impact.”

 

With state and federal support, for example, EI2’s 160-member staff operate a statewide network of assistance to Georgia manufacturers through the GaMEP and supports commercialization of Georgia Tech faculty research via its VentureLab offering.

 

A globally recognized model for university-based economic development, EI2— through its Economic Development Lab program — is tapped across the state, nationally, and internationally to help communities and organization innovate in business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.

 

Other programs include assisting in the growth and development of technology startups through the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), serving minority-owned businesses, and advising companies across the Southeast that have been affected by foreign trade.

 

Previously, Fite was GaMEP’s state regional network manager and led a team of 10 regional managers in their outreach efforts.

 

She was an RAB-certified Quality Management Systems Lead Auditor, and as a member of the Center for International Standards and Quality (CISQ), she provided implementation assistance and training to companies pursuing ISO 9001. She has expertise in assisting companies in the implementation of Lean Principles in manufacturing, government and healthcare entities.

Her earlier experience includes the application of industrial and management engineering, employee involvement, and business principles.

 

Fite has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Miami and a bachelor’s in health systems from Georgia Tech.In 2018, she achieved the faculty rank of principal extension professional, the Georgia Tech’s highest professional extension faculty rank.

Chris Downing, vice president and director of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, announces retirement

Chris Downing, vice president and director of Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)
Chris Downing is vice president and director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Chris Downing, who has led the Georgia Institute of Technology’s economic development efforts as vice president and director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), is retiring after 31 years of service.

 

Downing, who has led EI2 since 2016, leaves behind a decades-long legacy of leadership experience at Georgia Tech in technology-based economic development, university outreach and technical assistance, entrepreneurship and start-up support, and program management.

 

His retirement is effective June 1, 2019.

 

“I feel very fortunate for such a diverse and challenging career and to have shared so many good years with the Georgia Tech family, and I am very appreciative of the many faculty, staff, and students who have made my time at Georgia Tech so interesting and inspiring,” Downing said. “Although I am leaving my full-time duties, I look forward to staying connected to Georgia Tech and supporting its mission of progress and service.”

 

After leaving IBM where he was a mechanical facilities engineer, Downing joined Georgia Tech in 1988 as a senior research engineer with the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

 

In 1996, he joined EI2 — then called the Economic Development Institute (EDI) — as the Griffin regional office manager and provided industrial extension and economic development services to the south metro Atlanta region.

 

Two years later, he was named group manager of technology services for the Economic Development Institute, where he was charged with overall management of technology deployment and information technology services to more than 200 EDI staff and associates located both on campus and in 12 regional offices across the state. In addition, this group provided technical research services for EDI clients in industry, business, and community economic development organizations.

 

In 2005, he was tapped to lead EI2’s Industry Services group, which included several key outreach programs: the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), the Energy and Environmental Management Center, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC), the Southeast Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SETAAC), and the Georgia Tech Regional Office Network.

 

Downing was named EI2’s associate vice president in 2013 and vice president in 2016.

 

In that time, he spearheaded the three-fold expansion of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and created the Venture Center space that has helped to attract several Fortune 100 corporate innovation centers to Technology Square.

 

His technology-based economic development efforts helped Georgia Tech and the EI2 win the prestigious “2014 Innovation Award” from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the “2014 Outstanding Research Park Award” from the Association of Research Parks.

 

Most recently, Downing led the feasibility study for the expansion of Georgia Tech’s second research park, Technology Enterprise Park, into a broader life sciences and technology innovation district.

 

“Chris has been a tireless champion and supporter of our economic development initiatives, working to maintain strong partnerships across the state while creating new collaborations,” said Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson. “We appreciate his leadership role as Georgia Tech partners with the state to strengthen Georgia’s economy.”

 

Downing is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering.

Economic Development Lab helps biomedical researcher from Puerto Rico pursue entrepreneurial vision

Visit follows Georgia Tech offer helps Hurricane Maria-affected entrepreneurs and researchers from Puerto Rico tap into Technology Square’s innovation ecosystem.

Mónica Novoa (left), project manager at Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Lab, stands with Jamily Ali Pons, a biomedical researcher at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. Ali Pons, who spent a week on Tech’s campus to further her research, recounted her experience in a recent radio interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

As a third-year biomedical student at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Jamily Ali Pons has been studying how parasites affect the monarch butterfly’s life cycle.

 

But Hurricane Maria, the costliest storm to ever hit the U.S. island territory, wrecked her research and lab facilities when it hit Puerto Rico, Sept. 20, 2017.

 

Now — after recently spending a week at the Georgia Institute of Technology — the 26-year-old San Juan native, said she’s broadening her sights beyond research and thinking about commercializing her findings.

 

“Georgia Tech helped me to meet a lot of experts in my field and get my research experiments to the next level with new methods and expand my opportunities in in the entrepreneurial field as a researcher,” Ali Pons said. “Being here helped me to see my research as an entrepreneur and to see the possibilities of taking it from the research stage to a product by immersing myself as an entrepreneur.”

 

Ali Pons’ visit to Georgia Tech followed the Institute’s offer to host entrepreneurs and innovators from Puerto Rico still affected by the deadly storm to continue their work here temporarily in Technology Square.

 

She shared her experiences in recent interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On Second Thought” radio program. (Listen to the broadcast at this link: https://bit.ly/2FlrjxB.)

 

The Economic Development Lab (EDL), program of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, has been a partner to various universities and economic development organizations on the island since 2012.

 

EDL is able to offer use of the space temporarily to Ali Pons and others via the Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures Inc., a non-profit organization and Tech affiliate.

 

The initiative followed a November 2017 visit to Georgia Tech by a delegation of the Echar Pa’Lante (Move Forward), a multi-sector alliance based in Puerto Rico and comprised of business and government leaders and educators.

 

Mónica Novoa, a project manager at EDL, said the offering is part of its ongoing work in Puerto Rico since 2012, when a team from the Institute went to the island to conduct a full assessment of its innovation ecosystem in a government-funded study.

 

“Our initial work with that study and what we’re doing now has been centered around the role of universities in developing entrepreneurial programs and to teach how to be innovative and creative from that standpoint,” Novoa said.

 

That initial assessment led to EDL partnerships with two non-profits Grupo Guayacan and Echar Pa’lante to implement a host of programs funded by various organizations.

 

Some of the collaborative accomplishments in Puerto Rico in the last three years alone include:

 

  • Startup bootcamps for 80 entrepreneurial teams.
  • Successful teams have raised $5 million in capital.
  • The launch of the island’s first-ever seed fund, which raised a $1 million.
  • Building one of the first mentor networks.
  • Supporting the University of Puerto Rico licensing its first securing the first license technology in its history.
  • Trained over 400 faculty and ecosystem members in lean startups techniques.
  • Supporting a $40 million research grant in cell manufacturing technologies for a consortium of partners that includes Georgia Tech, Emory University, and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

Georgia Institute of Technology launches the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge

Georgia Smart Communities Challenge

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) and its partners announce the launch of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (Georgia Smart). The effort is the first statewide program to support local governments across Georgia with seed funding, technical assistance, and more as they plan and activate smart development.

 

Georgia Smart seeks proposals in the areas of smart mobility and smart resilience. Each of the four winning teams will receive direct grant funding of up to $50,000, as well as additional funds for research and technical assistance with a required local match.

 

The grants are made possible through funding from the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Power Co. Also supporting this effort are the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Centers for Innovation, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and the Technology Association of Georgia.

 

Two of the winning teams will be from rural communities and the other two from more urban Georgia cities.

 

“We’ve spent the past year in workshops and dialogue with local governments across Georgia to better understand their challenges and priorities. From these communications, we developed a program that is sensitive to the local context while fast-tracking smart communities,” said Debra Lam, managing director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech. “We aim to create more models for smart development that can be shared and applied across the state and beyond.”

 

The first program of its kind in the United States, Georgia Smart brings together an unprecedented coalition of university, industry, and public sector partners to support local governments’ adoption of cutting-edge technologies in their communities. The program is also unique in that it extends beyond large cities to smaller communities whose voices have not been as prominent in smart community development and who may not have access to technology resources.

 

The Georgia Smart initiative is open to all communities in Georgia. Local Georgia governments of any size — cities, counties, or consolidated city-county governments — will lead selected teams. Georgia Smart will provide seed funding and access to technical assistance, expert advice, and a network of peers. A Georgia Tech researcher will assist and advise each team and conduct research in support of the community’s needs and goals.

 

CEDR will provide strategic planning and facilitation assistance to the recipients of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge grants, and help those communities activate their smart community plans. For more information on the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, please contact Leigh Hopkins, senior project manager with Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) at 404.894.0933 or email leigh.hopkins@innovate.gatech.edu.

 

Comprised of a dozen programs, including CEDR, EI2 is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development.

 

“This is a chance for communities — both urban and rural — to look at ways of moving their economies forward by focusing on ideas centered on innovation, transportation, and broadband infrastructure among other economic development opportunities,” Hopkins said. “We’re looking forward to working with the winning teams and help them develop their ideas.”

 

Georgia Tech and its partners will work with the winning teams throughout the year on implementing their proposals, creating four testbeds of smart community development. For more information on applying for the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, visit: http://smartcities.gatech.edu/georgia-smart.