Mesh Medical Shapes: A Soft Landing Success Story

ATLANTA — When David Calle enrolled in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Soft Landing program, it was with the intention of reaching a new customer base in the U.S. But he never expected that to happen quite so quickly.

a photo of a man standing in front of an interior wall
David Calle, founder of Mesh Medical Shapes, visits the Enterprise Innovation Institute offices in Atlanta.

Calle — a product engineer who founded the Medellín, Colombia, company Mesh Medical Shapes in 2018 — had been referred to the program by two different sources: the Medellín Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, which is a project of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, and Luis Restrepo, CEO of Crystal S.A.S and a member of the Advisory Board of the President of Georgia Tech. CES University in Medellín also partnered with Mesh to support Calle’s business goals. Calle decided to take the course himself in fall 2023.

Specifically designed to assist those who are interested in expanding a foreign business into the U.S., the Soft Landing program offers a strong foundation that includes hard research, guidance, and networking, conducted through virtual and in-person instruction modules. In addition to receiving guidance on best practices and navigating national regulations, participants also come away with a nuanced understanding of the American customer mindset.

Since its launch in 2018, Soft Landing has collaborated with 22 companies, and 15 of those have expanded into the U.S. The latest among them is Calle’s company, which designs and fabricates precision dental simulators for student practice. “We accomplished our first sale in the U.S.,” Calle said in April 2024. “We finished Soft Landing about six months ago, and we just closed the deal.”

Mesh’s first export from Colombia was to a university in Florida, which had initially approached the company year and a half prior. Progression started out slow, but after Calle completed Soft Landing, it sped up considerably. American clients in general, he said, “tend to try to buy from a U.S.-based company. It’s easier for them. So knowing that we were backed by the Soft Landing program gave this client the confidence to vote for us and say, ‘Ok, we’re gonna do business.’”

When Calle first began the process of expanding into the U.S. market, he — to put it plainly — didn’t know what he didn’t know. Mesh had already been conducting business in Peru and Colombia, among other countries, but Calle didn’t fully realize the importance of preparation when opening up a new market. Part of that preparation, he said, entailed revisiting the scope and quality of his product, not to mention customer presentation.

Soft Landing helped him determine the necessary steps to get him where he wanted to go. “A unique feature of this program is that it’s really tangible. We were ready to start our journey here in the States, and we didn’t have a clue how to approach clients or how to present our products,” said Calle. “Being part of this program gave us the structure we needed in facing our client for the first time. It helped us determine how we were going to deliver the product and how we can make sure the product fits customer expectations.”

Currently, Mesh’s U.S. market presence entails a handful of annual trips from Colombia to ensure that everything is going smoothly for the client. “That’s the first step,” Calle said. “Now that I’m approaching new customers, we’re looking to expand our business in terms of distribution. We are not planning in the short term to bring manufacturing here, but we plan to bring at least part of the team here in the medium term to expand the business.”

When Mesh does establish a physical presence in the U.S., Calle is confident that it will be in southern Georgia. “When you want to set up your business in the U.S, people will often point you toward Florida or Delaware, so you will pay less in taxes,” he said. “But I had a conversation with a CEO of a company who built her company here 20 years ago, and she told me, ‘David, if the first thing you’re thinking is about where are you going to pay less taxes, is that a smart decision? The first thing you’re going to need to do is to grow your business. Have you got any networking in the U.S.?’”

In fact, he did have a network — in Georgia and facilitated by the Soft Landing program. When the time comes to create a legal framework for his U.S. expansion, Calle said, “I’m going to contact one of the lawyers who presented at the program. Instead of looking online, I think it’s wise to go through the contacts already made for us.”

Fortunately for Calle and other Soft Landing graduates, the support offered by the program is ongoing. Said Soft Landing Program Director Alberto Ponce, “When past participants need more service providers, they can let us know, and we can open those doors. If you open offices here in Atlanta, or just come over for a visit, you can use the Georgia Tech resources for help with funding or hiring, for example. They have an open door with us and access to whatever we can do.”

For Calle, the investment in Soft Landing has been invaluable. “It has helped me understand how to prepare today in the right way, so I don’t lose opportunities in the future,” he said. “I would definitely encourage anybody who is thinking about establishing their business in the U.S. to be part of the program.”

EI2 Global Wraps up Soft Landing Spring 2024 Cohort

Expanding a foreign business into the U.S. isn’t always a straightforward process. Companies are tasked not only with navigating national regulations and standard practices but also with grasping the nuances of American culture.

That’s where the Enterprise Innovation Institute comes in. The organization is authorized by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) to provide instruction on those topics and others through the seven-week, hybrid  Soft Landing program, administered by EI2 Global.

The most recent cohort began February 14 and wrapped up April 17. During that period, participants were exposed to more than 40 hours of workshops, as well as one-on-one meetings and intensive training.

According to program director Alberto Ponce, Soft Landing “is the best investment companies can make to prepare for internationalization. It accelerates their work and provides them with networks, guidance, and hard research to enter the market. It’s an invaluable resource to make their goals a reality.”

People at a conference table speaking.
Juli Golemi (left), director of EI2 Global, listens as Juan Cuellar, senior international trade manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development addresses Soft Landing Immersion Week attendees. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

Since its launch in 2018, the Georgia Tech Soft Landing program has worked with 22 companies in five countries from two continents that were interested in expanding into the U.S. market. Of those participants, 15 of them have expanded into the U.S.

The first of Soft Landing’s three components is instructional. Conducted virtually and extending throughout the length of the course, it assists businesses in building their internal capacity for expansion.

“We advocate for Georgia in this part of the program,” said Ponce. “This is the fastest growing region in the United States, and the Atlanta metropolitan area has a great quality of life. But we are fortunate that, as a university-based endeavor, the Soft Landing program is not tied to any particular service-providers or government-based programs. So, there’s no expectation or requirement that businesses relocate here. They have their own networks; they’re not tied to this area.”

People talking at a conference table
Bayron Quinteros, CEO of IData, a 2023 Soft Landing participant, explains how the program helped him in his decision to establish his U.S. presence in Atlanta. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

Soft Landing’s other two components are designed to connect participants face to face with experts who can help put theory into practice, offering guidance on everything from relocating company managers to navigating aspects of hiring, immigration, and accounting.

It’s during Immersion Week — undoubtedly the program’s highlight — that these personal connections are facilitated. From March 18 to 22, EI2 Global hosted four companies from Colombia looking to expand their business into the U.S. They were introduced to upwards of 15 people in the Soft Landing network, including service providers, powerhouse networkers, government officials, and Chamber of Commerce members. They also attended networking events that put them in contact with hundreds of Latin American businesses, increasing their chances of finding partners, providers, and clients.

Nicolás Ochoa, director of the Medellín creative agency Studio 1642, saw Immersion Week as a structured way to approach people, saying, “the magic of this program is to really use those connections and those mentors.”

According to participant Andrés Domínguez, whose app Beunik connects users to salons and barbershops, one of the main benefits of the program is the way it fosters “unexpected collisions.”

He added, “You can meet anyone from your industry, and [they] can help you. I’ve heard that creating a startup is a lonely process. It [doesn’t have] to be. Allies like Soft Landing can help you to reduce a lot of uncertainty. When you reduce your uncertainty, you are going to make informed decisions, and this is the perfect program to make informed decisions to enter the U.S. market.”

From Ponce’s point of view, many program outcomes can be considered positive. While some Soft Landing participants determine that Georgia is the optimal location for their business, others may choose a different state — or decide it’s not yet the right time to move into the U.S. market. Regardless of which actions they ultimately take, participants gain a solid understanding of the strategies that will best serve their goals.

For Jorge Gutiérrez, whose business Grupo Y provides elastic polymers to a range of market sectors, the program provided a deeper insight into American culture, which he characterized as “very important, because [it gives] us the opportunity to understand how we can arrive in an [appropriate] way in the U.S.”

Even when Soft Landing concludes, the program is far from over. Participants are given ongoing assistance and follow-up mentorship. Scheduled check-ins at six months and a year are built into the curriculum, but there is plenty of flexibility, too.

“We have an open-door policy,” Ponce explained. “They can reach out to us requesting connections for mentoring or consulting, and we are always open to meeting with them to work through their problems. Expanding into a new country takes a lot of commitment and investment. Most of the companies don’t do it within the year.”

Periodically, participants are asked to reflect on how the Soft Landing program helped them and impacted their decision-making. Because success is subjective and highly variable, tracking it is necessarily an open-ended, long-term endeavor.

Said Juan José Acero, of health supplement company Brightfull, “As soon as you finish [the program], you have a lot of questions, but you know how to answer those questions. You know how to structure the project. You are not going to have a clear idea about the next couple of years, but you will be [able to] understand what you need.”

To set up a video call for more information, contact Soft Landing program director Alberto Ponce: alberto.ponce@innovate.gatech.edu, 404.894.7083.

EI2 Global hosts Argentinian startups on business development tour

Alberto Ponce, who manages EI2 Global’s Soft Landing program, explains how it helps foreign companies exploring U.S. expansion navigate that complex market. (PHOTO: Péralte C. Paul)

EI2 Global,  the international outreach economic development program at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, recently hosted a delegation of startup founders and investors from Argentina who were in Atlanta on a three-day fact finding mission about the region’s startup ecosystem.

The delegation, led by Argentina’s Atlanta-based Consul General Alana Patricia Lomonaco Busto, wanted to learn about the business opportunities in the region. Attendees also wanted to see how Enterprise Innovation Institute programs such as EI2 Global’s Soft Landing program helps foreign companies determine if entering the U.S. market makes sense and how to do so to strategically to maximize success, said Albert Ponce, who manages the Soft Landing initiative.

The visitors also toured the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to learn how the incubator helps startups scale and connect with investors, customers, and talent.

Robert Daniel, ATDC FinTech catalyst, explains how the incubator supports Georgia’s startup ecosystem. (PHOTO: Péralte C. Paul)

While in Atlanta, the delegates will also meet with officials from the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Technology Association of Georgia, and Atlanta City Hall.

The visit to Georgia Tech is one of several from Argentina in the last few years, as well as from other parts of Latin America, Europe, and Africa.

They are part of EI2 Global’s longstanding mission of serving as the nexus for helping businesses and economic development organizations around the world foster their own  innovation-focused, economic development ecosystems.

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

Success Story: Innovation Commercialization Technology Commercialization for Professionals Pilot Course in China

by Lynne Henkiel

 

Customer Profile
The Economic Development Lab in the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) at Georgia Tech recently developed and launched the Associate Level Innovation and Technology Commercialization Professional (ITCP) course through Tech’s Professional Education program.

This asynchronous course contains the latest instruction of best practices in technology commercialization, and utilizes the Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC)’s Handbook specifically developed for its members’ use and reference of technology commercialization practices. The International Technology Transfer Network (ITTN) developed this handbook at the request of the APEC. The Georgia Tech ITCP course launched its pilot cohort in March 2021. Working with ITTN, EDL was able to create the course and translate it into the Mandarin language for the Chinese speaking population that was identified as the intended test audience. Delivered on-line in China, the course targets Chinese professionals with two years or less of relevant professional experience in the field of technology commercialization. It is intended to provide Chinese researchers, innovators, technology transfer professionals, technology commercialization professionals, and others in the field with a fundamental understanding of how to:

  1. feed more innovation and talent into research institutions and the local innovation ecosystem,
  2. energize technology transfer practices with leading edge commercialization methods to insure that more innovation is successfully commercialized in the market and society in an equitable manner,
  3. nurture the growth of local innovation ecosystems across a country to stimulate commercialization between industry, academia, government, and startups, and
  4. foster cross-border collaborations to move innovation into global markets. The educational materials will be applicable to professionals regardless of size of economy, development status, and location (Asia, Europe, Africa, Americas, Oceania).

 

Part of the target audience for the ITCP Course: 2021 Teacher Training Course on Transformation of Scientific and Technological Achievements, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Higher Education.

Situation
China was selected as the pilot location for a variety of both strategic and opportunistic reasons. China is a rapidly growing market for technology commercialization professionals with well over 100,000 potential ITCP students.  As the world’s two leading economies, it is critical that the United States and China work together in practical ways to establish globally accepted best practices. This can be accomplished through the ITCP training program. The U.S. State Department, Tech’s EI2, and the International Technology Transfer Network (ITTN) were closely involved in developing and vetting the APEC Handbook of Technology Commercialization which has been a key underpinning of the pilot ITCP program. This handbook establishes a consensus on some of the most important terminology, best practices, and know-how for innovation and technology commercialization professionals around the world. In addition, the ITCP program is strategically aligned with Georgia Tech’s commitment to global service, international impact, and economic development. While the pilot course was launched in China, the intent is to establish the ITCP program as an international standard to level the playing field for smaller and less developed countries. These objectives are directly connected to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Particularly, goal 4 – to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; goal 8 – to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; goal 9 – to  build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; and goal 17 – to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, convergence of unique capabilities, global connections, and impactful opportunities. Finally, China is a thought and opinion leader in the region which could lead to a rapid and smooth expansion of ITCP to other Asia Pacific countries.

 

Solution
As one of the largest and most comprehensive, university-based organizations in the world focused on the practice of innovation-led economic development and technology commercialization, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is globally recognized and uniquely qualified to champion the ITCP program. Additionally, Georgia Tech Professional Education has instructional design capabilities and technical framework for developing and delivering asynchronous remote learning at the scale needed in China. The city of Shenzhen is home to one of Georgia Tech’s flagship international campuses outside of Atlanta; the ITCP program will bring added reputational awareness and potential collaborations to this campus from across China. As Chinese is one of the strategic languages taught by Georgia Tech’s School of Modern Languages, the ITCP program will provide practical, cross-cultural, and enriching experiences for Tech graduate students learning Chinese, especially students enrolled in the Global Media and Cultures program.

 

Results
Through this collaboration, the EI2 and ITTN teams have asynchronously executed four pilot cohorts containing 960 total students coming mainly from technology (40 percent), university, research and development (17 percent) and government (12 percent) careers. With an average student age of 36, and with more than half of all students having less than 5 years of experience, this program has been validated by its initial targeted audience. Even though this course targets students with almost no experience, students with vast experience also benefited from the course structure and content and reported they were not previously exposed to a formal and standardized course that covered the main topics a technology transfer professional should know. In terms of gender, the course has been almost equally attended by highly educated males and female students, with 11 percent of all students who participated in the pilot programs having a doctorate degree, 52 percent earning a master’s degree, and 31% having a bachelor’s degree. The role of entrepreneurs and startups in an innovation ecosystem (52 percent) and the role of universities and research institutes in an innovation ecosystem (57 percent) have been the two most learned topics and skills among the enrolled students. Nearly 80 of the total students who graduated from the ITCP course reported they were extremely likely (42 percent) and very likely (37 percent) to recommend this course. 

 

In total, 785 Chinese learners have completed the ITCP Course to date and received a certificate from Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE).

 

Based on the positive feedback and interest in the technology commercialization topic expressed by the Chinese students, a principal level and senior level is under consideration for future development.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Wellstar invests in Engage corporate venture platform to fuel innovation

Innovation is vital to the Wellstar mission, says Candice Saunders (pictured), the health system’s president and CEO.

Building on a rich history of innovation and impact in healthcare delivery, Wellstar Health System has launched Catalyst by WellstarTM, a global digital health and innovation center.

 

As part of the center’s work, Wellstar has partnered with corporate innovation and venture platform Engage to connect and collaborate with industry-leading corporations, enterprise startups, and universities to fuel innovation. To foster meaningful discussion, action, and philanthropy around healthcare innovation, the Catalyst by Wellstar leadership team will participate in a Wellstar Foundation-hosted Innovation Series virtual event on June 15.

 

Catalyst by Wellstar is the first-of-its-kind global digital health and innovation center created and operated within a health system to holistically address healthcare disruption by harnessing problems, solutions, investments, and partnerships across industries. The center defines and drives leading-edge, transformative solutions that enhance the health and well-being of people and communities with world-class results and impact.

 

As technology continues to advance and consumers become more empowered by digital solutions and information access, innovation to solve problems and seize opportunities will evolve and impact how healthcare is delivered and used. Wellstar is committed to transforming healthcare through problem sourcing from patients, community members, physicians and team members, and partners to lead mission-driven innovation. Catalyst by Wellstar is designed to harness, accelerate, optimize, and scale people-centric solutions that:

  • Disrupt how Wellstar delivers care to create better patient and provider experiences.
  • Maximize quality and safety to improve outcomes while reducing the total cost of care.
  • Enhance health and well-being for people through access, engagement, and empowerment.
  • Optimize enterprise performance excellence, efficiencies, and productivity.
  • Impact communities and the world by designing the future of healthcare.

 

“Innovation is vital to our mission of enhancing the health and well-being of every person we serve, today and into the future,” said Candice L. Saunders, president and CEO, Wellstar Health System. “Catalyst by Wellstar positions us to lead change across our system, communities, and the healthcare industry.”

 

Catalyst by Wellstar convenes and activates best-in-class entrepreneurs, philanthropists, innovation ecosystems, research and development experts, corporate partners, academicians and scientists, and thought leaders inside and outside of the healthcare industry. The center will encompass innovation that drives positive impact related to:

  • Sustainability
  • Aging and children
  • Health equity

 

“There is endless opportunity to transform healthcare in positive and meaningful ways,” said Dr. Hank Capps, executive vice president and chief information and digital officer, Wellstar Health System. “With Catalyst by Wellstar, our system is poised to purposefully drive innovation faster than the speed of change through thought leadership and collaboration. Our global digital health and innovation center will equip Wellstar to transform the way healthcare is delivered for years to come.”

 

The first Catalyst by Wellstar partnership is an investment in Atlanta-based Engage, a first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Engage brings together industry-leading corporations, enterprise startups, and universities with the shared mission of elevating Atlanta and the Southeast as a leading technology and innovation hub. Wellstar is the only healthcare company to partner with Engage. Saunders has joined Engage’s board of directors and Capps has been named to the Engage Advisory Board.

 

“As a regional and national healthcare leader, Wellstar brings critical industry perspective to the Engage platform,” said Daley Ervin, managing director of Engage. “Our corporate partners are facing challenges posed by large-scale digital transformation and rapidly evolving customer expectations. Through this partnership, Wellstar will benefit from the expertise of a broad network of industry-leading companies while also leveraging the startup and university research ecosystem on their journey to design the future of healthcare.”

 

As a result of Wellstar’s investment in Engage, the system will have the opportunity to collaborate with startup technology companies as part of the innovation process, alongside other Engage partners: Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, the Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, Inspire Brands, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Invest Georgia, Tech Square Ventures, and UPS. The Engage Fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures. Engage’s exclusive partnership with Georgia Tech, one of the country’s top research and technology commercialization universities, provides unique access to its startup, innovation, and research initiatives.

 

“Healthcare is one of the strategic areas of focus for UPS and I am thrilled to welcome Wellstar to the Engage partnership,” said Matt Guffey, president of Global Strategy and Transformation at UPS and Engage Advisory Board member.

 

The second Wellstar Foundation Healthcare Innovation Series virtual roundtable will take place on June 15, 2021 from noon to 1:30 p.m. The event will focus on “Designing the Future of Healthcare,” with emphasis on the role of technology and innovation. The Series convenes community, philanthropic, and thought leaders to facilitate conversation and collaboration to propel the transformation of healthcare. More than 100 participants attended the inaugural event and engaged in discussion about how to enhance health equity. For more information, contact give@wellstar.org.

T-Mobile, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab Team Up to Fuel 5G Innovation in Drones, Autonomous Vehicles, Robotics, and More

New 5G Connected Future incubator program will support
growth and development of 5G entrepreneurs and startups.

 

Outside picture of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners
Curiosity Labs at Peachtree Corners is home to the 5G Connected Future incubator that will be managed by Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).

The new 5G incubator is located in the city of Peachtree Corners’ 500-acre smart city technology park, a living lab powered by T-Mobile 5G where more than 8,000 people live or work. The facility features a 25,000 square foot Innovation Center and 3-mile autonomous vehicle test track. T-Mobile has deployed its Extended Range 5G and Ultra Capacity 5G network across the park enabling developers to build solutions in a real-world environment. Here developers will build and test new 5G use cases such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, industrial drone applications, mixed reality training and entertainment, remote medical care, personal health and fitness wearables, and more.

“What a match-up! America’s leading 5G network, the brilliant minds of Georgia Tech and the most advanced living lab in the country — now that’s a powerhouse combination,” said John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging Technologies at T-Mobile. “We cannot wait to see the innovation that occurs as entrepreneurs and developers build the next big thing in 5G backed by these world-class resources.”

Hedshot of ATDC Director John Avery
John Avery is director of ATDC.

The new incubator, managed in collaboration with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), is an expansion of the T-Mobile Accelerator and part of the Un-carrier’s efforts to fuel 5G innovation. T-Mobile supports numerous initiatives to help startups and entrepreneurs develop, test and bring to market groundbreaking new 5G products and services. T-Mobile Accelerator is an award-winning program founded in 2014 that originated in the smart city corridor of Kansas City.

Companies participating in the 5G Connected Future program will work directly with technology and business leaders at T-Mobile Accelerator, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab as they build, test and bring to market new products and services that unleash the potential of T-Mobile 5G. ATDC is a globally recognized technology incubator. The 5G Connected Future vertical is the fourth of its kind at ATDC and follows other targeted programs in health, retail and financial technologies.

“In addition to the normal startup concerns, entrepreneurs in the 5G space face a unique set of challenges such as regulatory issues at the state and local levels, network security, and integration testing,” said ATDC Director John Avery.

Betsy Plattenburg
Betsy Plattenberg is executive director of Curiosity Lab.

ATDC brings a unique framework that combines its startup curriculum, coaching, connections, and community, as well as direct access to Georgia Tech resources, research expertise, and student talent, to help entrepreneurs learn, launch, scale, and succeed. In this effort, ATDC will offer programing, recruit and evaluate startups, and hire staff to manage the vertical in Peachtree Corners.

“This collaboration is a great opportunity for ATDC and Georgia Tech, the city of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab, and T-Mobile, a Fortune 50 company, to create a unique collection to work with these companies, refine their ideas into scalable companies, and bring these solutions to market more quickly,” Avery said.

Such a partnership underscores “Georgia Tech’s commitment to enabling tomorrow’s technology leaders, which remains as strong as when ATDC was founded 41 years ago,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research. “Innovation cannot take place in a vacuum, which is why entrepreneurs and startups require the knowledge and resources provided through partnerships such as ours.”

“The City of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab continue to affirm our commitment to technology innovation through programs, partnerships and engagements with industry leaders such as T-Mobile and Georgia Tech,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab. “These two organizations were instrumental in the launch of Curiosity Lab and our continued collaboration will create opportunities for the next-generation of intelligent mobility and smart city entrepreneurs.”

T-Mobile 5G, A Platform for Innovation
T-Mobile is America’s 5G leader, with the fastest and largest nationwide 5G network. T-Mobile’s Extended Range 5G covers more than 280 million people across nearly 1.6 million square miles – more geographic coverage than AT&T and Verizon combined. With Sprint now part of T-Mobile, the Un-carrier is widening its lead, using dedicated spectrum to bring customers with capable devices download speeds of around 300 Mbps and peak speeds up to 1 Gbps.

With its supercharged 5G network as the foundation, T-Mobile is working to fuel 5G innovation and build the 5G ecosystem. The Un-carrier collaborates with universities and standards bodies to support 5G research and development.  In addition to running the award-winning T-Mobile Accelerator, it also operates the T-Mobile Ventures investment fund and is a co-founder of the 5G Open Innovation Lab.

Startups interested in joining the 5G Connected Future program can apply here.

Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Research Program Selects City of Woodbury for Revitalization Initiative

Three-month project to help city develop, plan short and long-term economic development goals for job growth, downtown revitalization.

 

Main Street, Woodbury, Georgia’s primary commercial strip. (Photo Credit: City of Woodbury)

The Economic Development Research Program (EDRP) at the Georgia Institute of Technology is working with Woodbury, a community in West Georgia’s Meriwether County, under an agreement to help a coalition of civic and business leaders develop a strategic assessment plan to guide the city’s economic development efforts.

 

The strategic assessment process includes an analysis of the community, starting with interviews with local and regional stakeholders. The completed assessment will also provide guidance on historic preservation as the city and local downtown development authority pursue redevelopment projects in some of Woodbury’s historic buildings in the central business district.

 

The project began in May 2020 and take three months to complete.

 

“The idea is by pursuing strategic redevelopment projects that make sense for Woodbury and leverage its assets, that will spur small business and job growth in downtown,” said Candace McKie, an EDRP project manager. “One of Woodbury’s strengths is that it is attractive to people seeking a slower pace of life in a community that offers the benefits akin to being in a big city.”

 

The assessment’s findings will help define Woodbury’s strengths and weaknesses and provide a preliminary vision to guide the city on attainable, effective actions to reach its short and long-term economic development goals. The strategic assessment will also aid Woodbury as it prepares its application for a Rural Zone designation by Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs.

 

Located in Meriwether County’s southeastern quadrant, Woodbury sits within the Three Rivers Regional Commission area, a 10-county body that provides a number of services, including aging programs, workforce development, transportation, and local/regional planning.

 

Woodbury — which is a little more than two square miles in area and home to about 900 residents —  is an hour’s drive south from Atlanta. Incorporated as a city in 1913, Woodbury’s downtown has a rich history. The community has statewide appeal, drawing tourists seeking rare antique finds, as well as outdoors enthusiasts who participate in waterfront recreational activities on the Flint River, located just a short trip to the east. Designated a “Broadband Ready” community by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the city recently installed 1G internet service throughout the downtown area.

 

Steve Ledbetter is mayor of Woodbury, Georgia. (Photo Credit: City of Woodbury)

Even with Woodbury’s cultural and natural amenities, local officials say the city is ripe for revitalization. That is why the city sought to capitalize on its historic assets and redevelop the downtown and submitted an application to the EDRP.

 

“Partnering with Georgia Tech to complete our Strategic Priorities Assessment for our community has highlighted our community’s sense of pride and ownership,” said Woodbury Mayor Steve Ledbetter.  Collectively, we can make a difference.  We can revive our downtown, bring new businesses into our community, and show our Georgia pride in Woodbury. We’re excited about this opportunity and look forward to implementing the plan developed through the EDRP program.”

 

Funded through a U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center grant, EDRP serves rural and economically distressed communities in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.

 

Powered by Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR), EDRP leverages Tech’s assets to help communities engineer economic development success through affordable, in-depth research.

 

Communities that apply for a research grant have to commit local funds, based on ability to pay.  That local funding maximizes resources and ensures community involvement through all research project phases. Some recent EDRP studies include projects in Walker, Grady, and Liberty counties.

 

About the Economic Development Research Program (EDRP)
EDRP is Georgia Tech’s signature program for providing affordable economic development research and analysis capacity for communities that need it the most.  EDRP is funded through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center grant program (Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is a designated EDA University Center).  EDRP is available to eligible communities across eight southeastern U.S. states. To learn more, visit cedr.gatech.edu/edrp.

Delegates from Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Georgia Tech Meet with Congressional Leaders on Capitol Hill

Tim Israel, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, in Washington, D.C. for the 2020 “Hill Day” at the U.S. Capitol.

The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) convened with members of the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) during its annual “Hill Day” in Washington, D.C.

 

The two-day event, held on March 3 and 4, was an opportunity for ASMC members and their manufacturing clients to meet with their respective Congressional delegation and educate them about the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program during the annual appropriations process.

 

The MEP National Network works with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers through designated MEP Centers, including the GaMEP at Georgia Tech. They are charged with assisting manufacturing clients to help them, to help create and retain jobs, increase profits, and promote innovation and growth for the future.

 

The intent behind Hill Day is to call attention to the importance of small and medium-sized manufacturers’ effect on rebuilding the economy.  By showcasing the achievements of this sector to elected officials, ASMC members are able to demonstrate a return on investment of the federal funding generated through the MEP program.

 

“As a part of the MEP National Network, the GaMEP works with manufacturers throughout the state offering solution-based approaches to increase top-line growth and reduce bottom-line cost,” said GaMEP Director Tim Israel. “We have a unique responsibility to boost Georgia’s economy by enhancing our clients’ competitiveness. I was excited to share these results with our congressional leaders so they can see our key successes this past year.”

 

In Georgia, the GaMEP worked with more than 700 manufacturers across the state to increase manufacturing sales by $317 million, reduce clients’ operating costs by $121 million, invest more than $159 million back into their plants, and create or retain 2,074 jobs.

 

As a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the MEP offers its clients resources centered on five critical areas: technology acceleration, supplier development, sustainability, workforce, and continuous improvement. In 2019, MEP generated a 14.4:1 return on investment, according to an Upjohn Institute for Employment Research study.

 

Nationally, in 2019, MEP clients reported $15.7 billion new and retained sales and the creation or retention of 114,650 jobs. Considering that the average U.S. manufacturing worker earns more than $87,185 in wages and benefits per year, MEP clients are economic drivers in their communities. MEP clients are also increasing their capacity for the production of goods. MEP clients reported $4.5 billion in new investments directly attributed to their work with MEP.

 

“The MEP National Network continues to significantly improve the productivity and competitiveness of America’s small and mid-sized manufacturers,” said Dave Boulay, ASMC board chairman and president of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center.  “Hill Day provides us an opportunity to showcase those impacts to our congressional representatives and allow our clients to share their stories directly.”

 

About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP)
The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in nine regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top line growth and reduce bottom line cost. For more information, visit: gamep.org.

About the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC)
The American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) is a trade association of manufacturing extension centers that work to improve the innovation and productivity of America’s manufacturing community. ASMC advocates for legislative and programmatic resources that allow our small manufacturing clients to better compete in the global marketplace. The Coalition and its members do this by increasing awareness of the importance of American small manufacturers, the challenges which they face, and the federal legislation and programs that affect them. Learn more by visiting smallmanufacturers.org.