Entrepreneur Nina Sawczuk Joins ATDC as Assistant Director for Biosciences

Nina Sawczuk

Veteran biosciences entrepreneur Nina Sawczuk has joined Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) as assistant director for biosciences. In this role, she will support the commercialization of bioscience innovation throughout the state of Georgia.

For the past ten years, Sawczuk has served as CEO of Zygogen LLC, an Atlanta-based biotechnology company that advanced the use of zebra fish for drug screening. Prior to co-founding that company, she served in drug discovery, biotechnology consulting and business development roles for several organizations in the Boston, Research Triangle Park and Southern California areas.

Sawczuk also served ATDC as a consultant in 1999, assisting bioscience companies and participating in the formation of EmTech Bio, an incubator at Emory University.

At ATDC, she will help companies tap a comprehensive set of services designed to help commercialize innovations, support the launch and growth of technology companies, obtain early-stage commercialization grants and secure Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from federal agencies.

Among the key resources is the ATDC Biosciences Center, an incubator located in Georgia Tech’s Biosciences Complex. Life sciences research now accounts for approximately 20 percent of Georgia Tech’s $500 million-per-year research program.

“Through ATDC and the Georgia Research Alliance’s VentureLab commercialization program, we can provide an integrated set of services designed to support the startup and growth of bioscience companies statewide,” said Sawczuk. “This combination of resources gives Georgia entrepreneurs a strong advantage as they launch and build new companies in the biosciences.”

Sawczuk’s education and entrepreneurial experience give her an ideal background for leading ATDC’s biosciences program, said Stephen Fleming, vice provost at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, ATDC’s parent organization.

“We are pleased to have Nina return to ATDC and Georgia Tech to lead our initiatives aimed at expanding the state’s community of bioscience companies,” he said. “With its research universities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and established companies, Georgia’s life sciences community has a strong economic impact on the state.”

Sawczuk holds a master’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from Harvard Medical School, an M.B.A. from Duke University’s School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in social and behavior sciences from Johns Hopkins University.

She has served in a variety of positions with Georgia BIO, and as a member of the external review committee for the Georgia Research Alliance VentureLab Program.

ATDC is a startup accelerator that helps Georgia technology entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. Founded in 1980, ATDC has helped create millions of dollars in tax revenues by graduating more than 120 companies, which together have raised more than a billion dollars in outside financing.

Recently ATDC expanded its mission by merging with Georgia Tech’s VentureLab and with the Georgia SBIR Assistance Program. The change will enable ATDC to greatly extend its reach to serve more technology companies along multiple growth paths and at all stages of development. ATDC has opened its membership to all technology entrepreneurs in Georgia, from those at the earliest conception stage to the well-established, venture-fundable companies.

ATDC is part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) at Georgia Tech, which helps Georgia enterprises improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. ATDC currently has three facilities; two at Georgia Tech’s main campus in Atlanta, and one at Georgia Tech’s satellite campus in Savannah.

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

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Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: John Toon

ATDC Opens Membership to More Companies, Consolidates Staff

ATDC, one of the nation’s largest, longest running, and best-known university-based technology accelerators, is expanding its mission. ATDC has been merged with Georgia Tech’s VentureLab and with the Georgia SBIR Assistance Program. By pooling resources, the new ATDC has increased the staff available to serve its expanded mission of helping Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful technology companies. The change will allow ATDC to greatly extend its reach to serve more technology companies along multiple growth paths and at all stages of development.

Founded in 1980, ATDC has helped create millions of dollars in tax revenues by graduating more than 120 companies, which together have raised more than a billion dollars in outside financing. However, according to Stephen Fleming, vice provost at Georgia Tech, “the startup market has changed dramatically over the past few years. Many startup companies do not want or need to pursue venture funding. Some are not even seeking traditional office space. ATDC’s new initiatives directly address the demands of today’s startup environment.”

ATDC will open its membership to all technology entrepreneurs in Georgia, from those at the earliest conception stage to the well-established, venture-fundable companies. “We’re interested in any technology business opportunity,” said David Sung, one of ATDC’s startup catalysts and a former partner with H.I.G. Ventures. “There are many ways ATDC can help startups, from business coaching and providing networking opportunities to financing through angel investment, government grants and contracts, corporate partnerships, and classic bootstrapping. We will support all entrepreneurs, whatever path they may take, through their entire growth process.”

ATDC will continue to offer traditional “bricks-and-mortar” incubation space on entrepreneur-friendly terms, both in midtown Atlanta and Savannah. The center will be expanding its recent “SeedSpace” offering of small single-office leases in Technology Square for the earliest entrepreneurs and will provide a variety of co-working spaces to promote casual interaction among entrepreneurs. Recognizing the sprawl of the Atlanta metro area, ATDC will offer programs outside the Perimeter where dense clusters of entrepreneurs can benefit from its services. ATDC will also take full advantage of social media to build connections with entrepreneurs across the entire state of Georgia.

Since 1999, the state-funded ATDC Seed Capital Fund has made equity investments in Georgia startup companies alongside angel investors and traditional venture firms. With this new merger, ATDC will also manage the Georgia Tech Edison Fund, an innovative investment fund established in 2007 which draws its resources from charitable donors who are interested in helping expand the entrepreneurial ecosystem surrounding Georgia Tech.

“ATDC has always been a focal point for entrepreneurship in Georgia,” said Sig Mosley, president of Imlay Investments and member of ATDC’s board of advisors. “With these moves, ATDC now is aligned to support the specific needs of the new startup environment. The open door policy is a strong, positive shift and reinforces ATDC’s leadership role in the startup community not just within the Atlanta metro area, but throughout the entire state.”

The merger of the three units will bring together a broader knowledge base to provide comprehensive services to Georgia’s technology entrepreneurs.

“By working at the very earliest stage with university spinouts — not just pre-revenue but pre-incorporation — we have learned a great deal about the coaching required by brand-new entrepreneurial teams that are still establishing their business model,” said Roberto Casas, previously assistant director of Georgia Tech’s VentureLab. “To date, we’ve focused on startups based on Georgia Tech intellectual property. By merging with ATDC, we’ll be able to offer similar services to any Georgia startup, whether connected to Georgia Tech or not.”

ATDC, the former Georgia Tech VentureLab, and the SBIR Assistance program are part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) at Georgia Tech, which helps Georgia enterprises improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. Stephen Fleming, the former head of Georgia Tech VentureLab, was recently promoted to vice provost of Georgia Tech overseeing all of EI2. He will serve as the initial director of the new ATDC.

“Despite the economic downturn, it’s still a great time to build a startup company in Georgia,” said Fleming. “The last four years have seen an explosion of groups and organizations supporting the early-stage entrepreneur. With this expansion, we’re rebooting the franchise of ATDC as the hub of technology entrepreneurship in Georgia. We hope to work with everyone, at any stage, along any path, to accelerate more technology startups and weave them into the economic fabric of Georgia.”

All employees of ATDC, Georgia Tech VentureLab, and the SBIR Assistance Program will be retained in the consolidation. The new ATDC organization will continue to assist Georgia Tech faculty members and other research staff in forming new companies, and will continue to provide assistance to any Georgia small business seeking SBIR funding.

About ATDC
ATDC helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful technology companies. Founded in 1980, the Advanced Technology Development Center has provided business incubation and acceleration services to hundreds of Georgia startups — most of which are not based on Georgia Tech research, but which benefit from the close proximity to the university. ATDC currently has three facilities; two at Georgia Tech’s main campus in Atlanta, and one at Georgia Tech’s satellite campus in Savannah.

About SBIR Assistance Program of Georgia
The state of Georgia has one of the nation’s leading SBIR/STTR assistance programs which, since being established in 2005, has educated and helped hundreds of Georgia entrepreneurs access these sources of federal funds. With the program’s direct assistance, 150 companies have submitted one or more proposals resulting in more than $30 million in federal awards. By merging into ATDC, the program will be able to interact with more entrepreneurs across the state, including those who may have never considered applying for federal grants, and bring more of these awards into Georgia’s startup ecosystem.

About VentureLab
In 2001, Georgia Tech became a founding member of VentureLab, a program of the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA). VentureLab helps build spinout companies around cutting-edge university research. With its emphasis on technologically-grounded business analysis, access to early-stage funds, and recruitment of experienced management, Georgia Tech’s VentureLab has launched more than two dozen successful companies and serves as a model for other universities seeking to commercialize their discoveries. GRA’s VentureLab Program now extends to four other research universities in Georgia; with an investment of some $13 million from GRA, more than 150 Georgia-based startups have been created around university intellectual property in the state. GRA also recently launched a new venture fund to make equity investments into these spinout companies.


Savannah-based Urban Planet Mobile joins ATDC

Urban Planet Media & Entertainment, Inc. (Urban Planet Mobile), the leading provider of education and information products created specifically for delivery via mobile phone, has joined the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia Tech’s award-winning technology incubator.

In 2002, ATDC launched a Savannah initiative that focuses on assisting new ventures arising from Savannah’s diverse technology community and a growing number of startups. Selected companies are fully associated with ATDC but receive the added benefit of local personal assistance and attention.

Urban Planet Mobile was chosen based on the attractiveness of its business model that merges advanced technologies with high-demand content in an innovative way to reach billions of potential subscribers worldwide.

Brian OliverSmith, Urban Planet Mobile CEO, brainstormed the idea of delivering simple audio lessons through text messaging two years ago. His team has since built a library of more than 4,500 lessons in 11 languages. With Urban Planet Mobile’s unique offering, the burgeoning mobile content market is taken one step further through the development of Urban English™ anytime, anywhere learning that can be accessed by more than 90 percent of mobile phones worldwide.

With distribution agreements in place to deliver short audio English lessons to the United Arab Emirates through T.A. Telecom, Urban Planet Mobile is poised for exponential growth. The Urban English business line is also in development for Bangladesh, India, Mexico, Chile and Brazil.

OliverSmith describes Urban Planet Mobile’s innovative product line of short audio English language lessons as “providing the world with a native American English speaker in the palm of its hand.”

By signing up for the Urban English line of English lessons, the subscriber receives mobile daily audio downloads of lessons via Short Message Service (SMS). The lessons are available by clicking on a link to the lesson embedded in the text notification, which requires only a basic data plan. Alternatively, each SMS will provide a local country number routed to Urban Planet Mobile’s servers that play the lesson via interactive voice response technology.

The three- to five-minute lessons, which have been engineered to retain exceptional audio quality, use the same data for delivery as a 30-second ringtone. In this way, the more than 1.4 billion people worldwide actively learning English can affordably access quality audio English lessons anytime, anywhere with Urban Planet Mobile.

“In a world in economic turmoil, Urban Planet Mobile’s business model is of particular interest as the content they offer is in high demand and their delivery allows for unlimited scalability at an incredibly low cost, which in turn enables them to sell affordable subscriptions,” said Orjan Isacon, a venture catalyst with Savannah ATDC.

Member companies of ATDC have attracted more than $1 billion in venture capital since 1999, while more than 70 percent of the 122 firms that have graduated from the incubator are currently operating or have been acquired. Urban Planet Mobile is closing out a second round of investment at the end of August 2009.

ABOUT URBAN PLANET MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Urban Planet Mobile is the premiere language learning content developer for mobile delivery. The Urban Planet Mobile management team is extensively experienced in audio content development, production, distribution and marketing. Additionally, a team well-versed in developing learning curriculum is actively involved in all stages of building the entire family of products. The group is rounded out with international mobile content delivery and global business development experts on the sales and marketing side. Urban Planet Mobile is poised for exponential growth in a growth market. For additional information: moc.em-punull@sserp, www.UrbanPlanetMobile.com.

ABOUT ATDC
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 120 companies have graduated from the ATDC.

In collaboration with the Georgia Tech Regional Engineering Program, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Savannah Economic Development Authority, Coastal BETA and other local organizations, ATDC launched its Savannah initiative during spring 2002. The program assists new ventures arising from Savannah’s diverse technology community and a growing community of startups. For additional information: Orjan Isacson, venture catalyst, 912-963-2519, www.atdc.org.

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Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (john.toon {at} innovate.gatech(.)edu).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

ATDC Company Offers End-to-End Solution for Untelevised Sports

After working in new product development for Atlanta-based media company Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. for 13 years, David Rudolph left his job to pursue a startup company opportunity. The company – PlayOn! Sports – was developed at Turner over the past four years and was recently accepted into Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).

“PlayOn! Sports offers an end-to-end solution for production and distribution of TV-quality, untelevised live events, with an emphasis on sports,” said Rudolph, who is CEO of the new company. “Although there is a hardware component to our business, it is very much software driven. Two patents – one for software and one for hardware – have been filed.”

While working at Turner, Rudolph saw a market opportunity to distribute high-quality programming via Web-based broadband at a fraction of the cost of traditional television. Numerous media entities and organizations are interested in producing more exclusive programming and generating differentiated digital advertising opportunities. PlayOn! Sports’ focus will initially be on sports because of the audience passion, the relevance of a live broadcast, attractiveness to advertisers and the wide availability of content.

“One of the initial motivations is the exposure our product creates for their sport. Everybody can tell you that the way to grow your sport is to generate media exposure. Smaller, niche sports can’t get that on television, so they are looking for alternatives,” Rudolph noted. “Sports is also an ad-driven model with highly passionate audiences, something that is very attractive to advertisers.”

While a number of companies offer pieces of the production and distribution process, PlayOn! Sports is uniquely positioned because it is optimized for low-cost production by offering the entire spectrum of a clients’ needs, including production equipment and support, training, scheduling, hosting, streaming and archiving, content rights and management and content syndication. But, according to Rudolph, where PlayOn! really stands out is with its patent-pending software.

“Our software includes a Web application and a client application and gives them complete access to everything they need to do for the entire life cycle of an event,” he explained. “When they’re in pre-production, it checks connectivity to make sure that the venue connectivity is there. In production, it handles all the production elements that go into making it a high-quality event such as advertising insertion, production graphics, replay and slow-motion. And in post-production, it handles the video-on-demand management so the video can be embargoed for a period of time or be available within five to 10 minutes upon conclusion of the game.”

Revenue and profits are generated through recurring software-as-a-service licensing fees, advertising inventory that the company retains and sells on an aggregated basis, broad content redistribution rights and production equipment solutions for clients who require it. Rudolph predicts that the redistribution rights alone will generate a significant revenue stream through DVD sales, download-to-own and the syndication of highlight clips. Sales channels include broadcast television stations, newspaper and magazine groups, regional cable networks and operators, universities and high schools, and independent production companies.

Investors obviously believe in the startup’s business model. In December 2008, 2080 Media purchased PlayOn! from Turner Sports International Enterprises and landed $3 million in a first round of funding. The company, which continues to enjoy Turner as an investor and partner, was also accepted into ATDC, Georgia Tech’s nationally recognized science and technology incubator.

“What I like about ATDC is the energy that’s here and the fact that everybody is in an early-stage company and running around like crazy trying to figure it out. There’s a lot that can be learned from just being in that environment,” Rudolph said. “A few months ago we looked at office space and we were going to be sitting next to an insurance company or a bank or a non-profit and it felt sterile. We look forward to the opportunity of being an ATDC member company.”

Charles Ross, general manager of ATDC, looks forward to watching the continued success of PlayOn! Sports.

“Many successful companies – more than 110 – have grown out of the ATDC facility,” he said. “ATDC can offer technology startups like PlayOn! Sports collective experience, leadership and resources that will help take their business to the next level.”

About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 110 companies have emerged from the ATDC.

Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Balaya Bridges Gap between Social Media and Business Solutions

As businesses search for better ways to remain engaged with their customers and employees, social networking tools have offered attractive options. But most of these tools were never designed as business applications.

Bob Nunnally, CEO of Savannah-based Balaya, says his company is poised to address that shortcoming by providing a new venue for a business-centric social media solution that improves organizational communication and collaboration.

“Businesses are desperate to stay connected, and the most promising activity for that is social media – things like wikis, blogs and social networking sites – that have seen triple-digit audience growth,” he noted. “However, none of those tools were built as a business solution. Instead of a new Web site, businesses need an entirely new venue.”

Balaya’s first application is tick-it™, an interactive communication tool that runs like a news ticker across the screen of a computer or mobile device. According to Nunnally, tick-it enhances team collaboration and cultivates customer engagement while offering an option for generating new revenue.

“We can help any organization with a need to communicate instantly or constantly improve efficiencies and their bottom line,” he added.

The social media market, composed of enterprise, consumer and advertising social, is worth nearly $40 billion in all. Balaya will target a $14 billion segment of that market via a three-part strategy: direct sales, a focus on select marquee media clients and the establishment of channel partners. Revenue will be generated from setup and customization fees, subscription fees and shared advertisement revenue.

“There are two target markets for us: an enterprise solution and a consumer-centric application. Our launch partner for the enterprise solution is a major aerospace corporation that believes this type of tool can connect engineers more effectively and efficiently across multiple time zones and locations,” Nunnally said. “Our launch partner on the consumer solution is a major print media company. They will license tick-it from us and give it free to the community as the preferred way to get newspaper headlines and create their own messaging content.”

Competitors in the marketplace are currently providing Web-centric solutions or social media tools as an add-on to SharePoint, Microsoft’s browser-based collaboration and a document-management platform. Nunnally says Balaya has a competitive advantage over competitors because of its patent-pending technology, its ability to move early into both enterprise and consumer markets, and its rapid scalability, solid architecture and security provisions.

Balaya, which is located in Savannah, Ga., began its operations in 2007 and currently consists of four full-time and two part-time employees. The team has more than 130 years of experience, including Nunnally’s background in international and domestic operations; President Ian Bramson’s expertise in marketing, sales and product development; and Director of Technology Blake Ellis’ experience with technology startup companies.

Supplementing the years of team experience, Nunnally will take advantage of the resources available through the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a nationally-recognized science and technology incubator based at Georgia Tech. Balaya, one of seven ATDC member companies in Savannah, was accepted as a member company in January 2009.

“There is something very salient here for what a technology startup is doing. The faith and backing of ATDC and learning from our fellow entrepreneurs is priceless,” Nunnally said. “Being able to connect with other entrepreneurs, being introduced to business opportunities and having access to educational resources are critical to advancing our company.”

Howard Morrison, a self-described “community organizer,” is excited about what Balaya will add to the Savannah area. Morrison is the chair emeritus of the Georgia Tech Savannah campus external advisory board, a co-managing partner of Energy Launch Partners (renewable energy projects), and former chair of the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation.

“Savannah’s biggest business is education and our greatest asset is students, so companies like Balaya represent an essential consumer of our most important ‘product.’ Retaining these talented students in the Savannah area is the basis of our knowledge-based future,” noted Morrison. “Companies like Balaya only solidify and enhance our reputation in and commitment to this arena.”

About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 110 companies have emerged from the ATDC.

Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).

About Balaya: Headquartered in Savannah, Ga., Balaya develops social media tools that provide businesses tangible results and a competitive advantage. The company’s Web-enabled products and services move a brand beyond a Web site to an interactive desktop and mobile device presence that improves communication with employees and customers. For more information visit www.balaya.com or contact Michelle McWhinney at 202-361-2891.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Zenda Technologies Offers Quick, Early Detection of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease – the progressive brain disease that slowly takes away memory and thinking skills – is the most common cause of dementia among older people. As many as 4.5 million Americans and 18 million people worldwide suffer from the disease, and for caregivers, the tolls are physical, emotional and financial. In fact, Alzheimer’s is one of the most economically costly diseases to society in developed countries.

Zenda Technologies, a new member company in Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), hopes to alleviate some of these costs with a new device that detects mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s. Using patent-pending technology developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University over six years of research, patients can be screened for MCI using a brief, inexpensive test with an immersive neuropsychological device.

“Our cognitive impairment test, called DETECT™, has many advantages over current screening methods,” noted Lawrence Catchpole, president and CEO of Zenda. “It’s portable, objective and does not require a trained technician, and it’s short – seven to 10 minutes – compared to the standard 90-minute pen and paper tests used today. We also use ImTech™, our immersive screening device, so instead of needing a soundproofed quiet room, we create the quiet room in any exam.”

The test is designed to be administered before a patient develops Alzheimer’s symptoms, tracking any abnormal decreases in cognitive performance over time. Patients being tested experience a battery of visual and auditory stimuli such as pictures and words that assess cognitive abilities relative to age, gauging reaction time and memory capabilities. If a patient’s performance declines outside the normal range, additional testing and care from a neurologist, neuropsychologist or other specialist would be offered.

“One in 10 people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s; that risk increases to 50 percent once you’re over 85. Upon initial diagnosis, 95 percent of Alzheimer’s patients already have moderate to severe disease, so catching it early is critical,” Catchpole said. “It’s a tremendous financial burden, not only on the individuals and their families, but on the health care system. We’re looking at $100 billion today, going to $1 trillion in seven to 10 years.”

To test its products, Zenda initially conducted studies with 40 patients, 20 of whom had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. They then conducted a larger, 400-patient study which delineated patients with normal, possible, probable and definite impairment. Both studies proved that DETECT was as accurate as or more accurate than the pen-and-paper test that is currently used.

Catchpole notes that Alzheimer’s is the initial but not the only focus of Zenda. Future applications will include neuropsychological testing for mild traumatic brain injury patients related to military assessments, sports injuries and emergency department evaluations, as well as HIV-associated MCI and virtual reality therapies.

Already, Zenda has received more than $3.2 million in grants and other financial resources. The company’s research was funded with a grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and support from the Georgia Research Alliance through VentureLab, a program that provides comprehensive assistance to faculty members, research staff and graduate students who want to form startup companies to commercialize the technology innovations they have developed.

Becoming an ATDC member company was a natural progression for Zenda, according to Catchpole, who graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in biology and a minor in electrical engineering. Michelle LaPlaca, who along with Emory School of Medicine assistant professor David Wright created the device, is an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. Mark Braunstein, professor in the College of Computing and director of health services for the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and John Baumstark, chairman and CEO of ATDC member company Suniva, both serve on Zenda’s management advisory board.

“We think there is a huge value in being part of ATDC, having the combined experience in terms of consultative knowledge and working with the other companies,” Catchpole said. “There is recognition in the investor community of the thorough vetting you have been through as an ATDC member company, and in today’s economy, every check mark you can get is huge.”

About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 110 companies have emerged from the ATDC.

Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

GlobalCrypto Uses Innovative Technology to Secure Online Transactions

In 440 B.C., an exiled Greek citizen named Demaratus (who would later become the king of Sparta) secretly sent a warning to his homeland about an attack being planned by Xerxes, leader of the Persians. His message was carved into a wooden tablet and covered in wax. Today, this technique of covered or hidden writing is referred to as steganography, and it is the basis for GlobalCrypto, a new member company in Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).

GlobalCrypto has developed a patent-pending, innovative technology dubbed RealMe™ that embeds cryptographic information in digital images and exchanges pieces of those images between a user and a Web application. This makes online transactions more secure and prevents attempts to steal a user’s financial information and personal identity. Indeed, the market is ripe for such a solution: last year, U.S. banks spent $6 billion to combat fraud and still lost $3.1 billion.

“The idea for the company hatched over coffee one day when a friend told me about a project he was working on that protected bank logins, but had very weak security,” recalled Todd Merrill, CEO of GlobalCrypto. “We knew we could do better.”

The GlobalCrypto solution is user-friendly, low-cost and easy for Web applications to install and operate. Potential customers include e-commerce sites, financial institutions, credit card companies and other Web environments that exchange confidential information online and want to strengthen their anti-fraud protection and user authentication. GlobalCrypto expects to generate revenue through subscriptions, transactions or professional services.

To use the system, end users will activate the RealMe browser plug-in from business Web sites and will be able to validate their transactions by selecting an image from a toolbar visible in the browser. The image is used to protect them from online fraud and phishing without the need to remember multiple passwords.

“All encrypted information between a Web application and an end user must match before a transaction can proceed,” Merrill noted. “This multi-factor authentication is significantly more secure than typical ‘PIN and Password’ protected sites.”

GlobalCrypto first became involved with ATDC through CapVenture, a unique program that educates and equips executives of early-stage companies for smarter and more productive capitalization of their businesses. Since then, the company has generated considerable buzz: it placed second in a business launch competition hosted by the Georgia Research Alliance and the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and was also named one of TAG’s “Sweet 16” most innovative technology companies in Georgia.

In addition to Merrill, GlobalCrypto currently has three employees, including a chief marketing and sales officer, a chief architect and a vice president of engineering. By 2010, the company plans to have more than 40 employees and $12 million in revenue. Merrill expects ATDC will help GlobalCrypto achieve that ambitious goal.

“The ATDC is a fantastic environment for early stage companies. As an ATDC company, we have an incredible amount of resources at our fingertips that we would never have access to otherwise,” he said. “I would recommend the ATDC to any technology startup company.”
About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 110 companies have emerged from the ATDC.

Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

ICON Interventional: Transforming Vascular Intervention

A new ATDC member company is poised to revolutionize the cardiovascular medical device industry with two innovative products. ICON Interventional, housed in the ATDC Life Sciences Incubator at Georgia Tech, is developing both a bioabsorbable stent and a new stent material that is 50 percent thinner than the most advanced commercial coronary stent available.

“We have a breakthrough alloy material. Any cardiologist who’s looked at this has been wowed, and we think we have something,” said Jack Merritt, president and CEO of ICON. Merritt has more than 30 years of experience in the medical device arena, and he led the commercialization of the original Palmaz-Schatz Coronary Stent.

ICON has developed a proprietary metal alloy dubbed Nuloy™, and its properties permit the manufacture of stents with extremely thin struts without sacrificing radial strength. A stent is a small metal tube made of wire lattice that is inserted permanently into an artery to hold it open to allow blood flow. Stents currently on the market are made of either stainless steel or cobalt chromium.

ICON is using the Nuloy material to make both bare metal stents and drug-eluting stents, which use drugs to reduce the narrowing of arteries after stent placement. The company says its Nuloy material out-performs its competitors’ wall thickness, radial strength, recoil, deliverability and radiopacity – the ability to easily see the stents in X-rays.

“It’s very important that the stent be visible on angiography while physicians are doing a procedure, and our stents are much more visible compared to other well-known stents,” noted Merritt. “An ideal system has to maintain access, have a low risk of plaque recurring and be easy to deliver. This is more than a drawing and an animation – it’s a real-life product.”

Having successfully completed its first human clinical trial, ICON announced in 2007 that it had entered into a license agreement with ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to develop and commercialize drug-eluting stents that deliver deforolimus, a drug that prevents restenosis (the recurrence of an abnormal narrowing of a blood vessel).

“ICON is one of the most innovative and promising medical device companies with broadly applicable technologies,” said Harvey J. Berger, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of ARIAD. “ICON’s design and manufacturing capabilities have led to highly differentiated stent platforms and bioabsorbable polymer formulations that should enable its deforolimus-eluting stents to provide substantial benefit to patients with coronary and peripheral vascular disease.”

ICON is also developing a bioabsorbable stent called Biosorb™ that would eliminate the need for permanent, traditional metallic implants. In addition for allowing for extreme motion without strut fractures, the Biosorb stent technology incorporates a unique system of microneedles that delivers medication directly to the site of the inflammation that’s causing the narrowing. This controlled delivery of drug followed by stent absorption may result in improved outcomes. Mark Allen, Georgia Tech senior vice provost for research and innovation, serves as chief scientific consultant for ICON and has provided guidance in this area.

In February 2008, ICON was recognized by the Technology Association of Georgia as one of the top 40 most innovative technology companies in Georgia. The company, which has already raised around $15 million, will soon begin international and U.S. trials for the Nuloy bare metal stent and complete enrollment for a pivotal U.S. clinical trial in early 2009. The total worldwide stent market is estimated at more than $5 billion.

“Being a member of ATDC gives us access to facilities and programs at Georgia Tech, and we have already utilized analytical equipment that has allowed us to accelerate our product development efforts. In addition, there are expert resources on campus that always seem ready to provide advice,” Merritt said.

About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 100 companies have emerged from the ATDC.

Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Cabinet Maker Moves Business Forward with Georgia Tech Assistance

Andy Helm (left) and David Apple (right) discuss a new plant layout with Jonathan White, vice president of Economy Cabinets.

Fourteen years ago, father-and-son team Charlie and Greg White started Economy Cabinets, Inc. with three employees in a rented space the size of a garage. Today the White, Ga.-based company — which has expanded its original plywood cabinet product to include wholesale birch, oak, maple and poplar cabinets — is located in a 15,000-square-foot facility and employs 12 people. This summer, Economy will move into a 30,000-square-foot building across the street from its current location.

“We’ve had really rapid growth in the past couple of years, and our company has more than doubled in size,” noted Jonathan White, the company’s vice president. “I don’t have a background in engineering or manufacturing, and I really wanted our business to be poised for growth once we moved into the new facility.”

To address this challenge, White sought the counsel of David Apple, northwest Georgia region manager with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. White asked for assistance implementing lean management principles, a set of tools widely used in manufacturing to help identify and steadily eliminate waste from an organization’s operations.

Apple developed a plant layout for both the current and future facilities, an activity that pointed out opportunities for improving efficiency. By timing all of the individual steps in making cabinets, he identified a time spike on gluing and sanding doors.

“All of the individual processes were taking one or two minutes, and when we got to the putty and sanding, the time required was over seven minutes. It was astronomical,” White recalled. “We knew we had to solve that, so I found a new cutting tool that eliminated the need for putty and sanding. It cut that final step down to less than two minutes.”

White also attended Georgia Tech’s lean boot camp, a four-day class that teaches participants how lean impacts profit, lead-time, inventory, quality and customer service. By the end of the course, White was able to map both current and future value streams, identify appropriate techniques for improvement, develop a lean strategy for Economy and plan the application of specific lean techniques.

The first area he tackled was 5S, a philosophy of organizing and managing the workspace with the intent to improve efficiency and safety.

“The visual cues and 5S and having everything in its place – all of that was a novel idea to my employees when we started and now it’s just a way of life,” White said. “Before the lean boot camp, I understood some of the lean concepts, but I didn’t get the big picture. Now I understand it.”

White implemented visual cues to assist with re-ordering the company’s saw blades. Prior to implementing this tool, White would work directly with the person sharpening his saw blades, guessing which machines needed new blades and distributing them to the floor himself. Now, the vendor merely visits a tool board on which the blades needing to be sharpened are hung by employees. This allows him to basically service the entire shop himself.

“This was a hidden waste. It’s a huge waste when you have a saw down for two hours, while someone goes to get a new blade because you ran out of sharp blades,” Apple observed. “Now, the operator always has a sharp blade available when it’s needed, it eliminates searching for a blade he doesn’t have, and it eliminates buying unneeded, new blades.”

Although the cabinet industry overall has suffered a 15 percent business decline this year, sales for Economy Cabinets are up by 10 percent. Through attrition, the workforce at Economy Cabinets has decreased by five employees, but White says that his company’s productivity has increased by 20 percent and inventory has been reduced by 15 percent.

Economy Cabinets has also received assistance from e2e Works, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute that helps entrepreneurs in the state of Georgia.

Andy Helm, an entrepreneur outreach specialist with e2e Works, continues to assist Economy Cabinets by providing expertise in business management practices, technical assistance and access to a variety of industry-specific resources. E2e Works entrepreneur outreach specialists are charged with helping existing entrepreneurs and startup companies in rural Georgia grow their businesses.

“The efficiencies that Jonathan has gotten through the plant have allowed him to meet delivery times that his competitors can’t, and that’s a huge competitive advantage in this industry,” said Helm. “It’s that customer service that keeps his clients coming back.”

White also credits being able to meet deadlines and increase efficiency to having a committed workforce. By offering workers a four-day, 40-hour work week and monetary incentives for meeting goals, he has also seen a dramatic difference in the company’s turnover rate.

“We’re grateful to Andy and David and Georgia Tech for the impact they’ve made on the company,” he said. “Lean is a journey; it’s something you do every day.”

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Georgia’s Invention Activity is Growing and Focused on Technology, First-Ever Comprehensive Survey Shows

Independent patenting activity has grown rapidly in Georgia over the past 30 years, with nearly 8,000 patents issued since 1975 to inventors not associated with corporations, universities or similar organizations.

A new study has found that nearly half of the products created by these inventors were in non-consumer areas, mainly in technologies such as medical devices, energy and the environment, and automotive applications. Despite their productivity, the study found that less than a third of the inventors realized commercial success with their patents.

These findings were among the conclusions of the first-ever comprehensive survey of the state’s independent inventors. Conducted by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the findings suggest that the work of independent inventors could provide untapped economic potential for the state.

“There is a significant level of creativity and product development by individuals living throughout Georgia, and this activity is increasing,” said Joy Wilkins, manager of community innovation services at the Enterprise Innovation Institute. “As our survey showed, the needs of the independent inventor community are diverse and largely unmet, although there is a huge appetite for help among the inventors.”

Despite the economic potential and identified needs, Georgia currently has no organization or entity that focuses on the needs of independent inventors on a statewide basis, Wilkins noted.

The survey identified the top needs of inventors, which included:

* Statewide networking for the independent inventor community,
* Greater advisement on available financial resources,
* Assistance in marketing,
* Better channels for linking with appropriate manufacturers,
* Greater access to third-party technical product evaluation,
* Business development assistance,
* Effective prototyping and design assistance,
* Help in understanding the invention, patent and commercialization processes, and * Professional development and training.

“Beyond developing a greater understanding of the scope and nature of independent invention activity in our state, we wanted to conduct this survey to identify three areas: unmet needs, ingredients for success and effective resources for inventors,” Wilkins explained. “If we can understand the needs of inventors and how Georgia Tech can better connect these idea artists to helpful resources, there is a real potential to boost commercialization and economic development throughout the state.”

The research yielded some interesting demographics about Georgia’s independent inventor community. More than half had at least a four-year college degree; more than half were between the ages of 45 and 64; the majority was male; and approximately one-fourth held management and professional occupations or were self-employed. There also appeared to be a tendency for independent inventors to belong to moderately high to higher income households.

The study also found that Georgia’s independent patenting activity is broad-based, with all but seven of the state’s 159 counties home to at least one patent. Although the Atlanta region accounted for more than half of the inventors participating in the survey, 43 percent hailed from beyond the state’s most urbanized region. Outside of Atlanta, the Gainesville region accounted for the second largest share of participants, followed by the Athens and Augusta regions.

When asked what motivated their activity, the independent inventors cited reasons related to their jobs more than any other – including a need, problem, or potential efficiency recognized because of the inventor’s line of work, with such reasons accounting for 30 percent of all responses given. Factors relating to making their personal life easier were the second most frequently mentioned. Money was mentioned as a motivator only to a slight degree.

Overall, reported experiences by inventors revealed that approximately one-third of inventors achieved some level of commercial success through independent production and sales, licensing, and/or sale of a patent. Although more than half (60 percent) reported they’d not achieved success at the time of the survey, approximately 32 percent of the inventors said they did experience some commercial success for at least one of their inventions.

Independent production and sales, or wrapping a company around the patented product, appeared to the most frequented vehicle to success. Licensing patents to another entity appeared to be the second most successful vehicle to commercialization, as 9 percent of all inventors – or more than one-fourth (28 percent) of successful inventors – reported they had realized success through such a path for one or more of their inventions. Another five percent reported they had achieved success through assigning or selling one or more of their patents to another entity.

The Georgia Tech researchers suggest that economic developers in Georgia consider independent inventors in strategies for economic development because collectively these inventors account for a larger share of patents than those owned by a single corporation or entity, including major research universities. The numbers bear out the dramatic increase in patents in Georgia: since 1975, independent inventors in Georgia received 9,042 patents – 1,759 from 1975 to 1985; 2,870 from 1986 to 1995; and 4,413 from 1996 to March 2006.

That economic potential is what motivated support from the EDA, which gave the project its Planning Performance Award.

“EDA’s investment in this research of inventors in Georgia – and the subsequent identification of ways to support invention commercialization – supports job creation and private investment throughout the state,” said Phil Paradice, EDA’s Atlanta regional director. “The project, which earned EDA’s Planning Performance Award for its collaborative efforts with state, local and federal entities, is consistent with our partners’ comprehensive economic development strategies.”

Utilizing the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the researchers determined that there were 6,845 independent inventors with a Georgia residence as of 2006. The survey pool consisted of 2,428 independent inventors, with participation by 331 inventors, a 13.6 percent return rate. Researchers analyzed more than 113,000 data points.

The survey’s results will spur development of a series of recommendations aimed at better meeting the needs of the inventors. “Using the results of the survey, we will make recommendations and identify pilot services, such as training workshops, to be implemented later this year,” Wilkins added.

For more information on community innovation services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Joy Wilkins (); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@snikliw.yoj).

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright