Georgia Tech taps John Avery to lead Advanced Technology Development Center

Technology veteran brings record of success in startups and corporate innovation.

Headshot: John Avery is director of the Advanced Technology Development Center.

John Avery is director of the Advanced Technology Development Center.

The Georgia Institute of Technology has named John Avery as its next director of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).


Avery, a serial entrepreneur who was involved in four startups, assumes his position Nov. 6. Most recently, he was engineering group manager of Panasonic Automotive Systems’ Panasonic Innovation Center at the Georgia Tech campus.


A unit of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s outreach and economic development arm, ATDC works with more than 800 technology startup entrepreneurs each year across Georgia. Founded in 1981, ATDC has become one of the most successful, longest-running, and largest university-based startup incubators in the country.


The announcement follows a comprehensive, four-month national search for a new leader at ATDC following the departure of Jen Bonnett, who left in June 2018 to become the Savannah Economic Development Authority’s vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship.


In taking the permanent appointment, Avery will lead a team of 26 full- and part-time staff and advisors who run ATDC’s various initiatives, including its financial, health, and retail technology verticals, support statewide activities such as the ATDC @ program, and coach technology entrepreneurs in Georgia.


Avery will report to Chris Downing, EI2vice president and director.


“John is an outstanding leader and successful entrepreneur who understands the startup journey and commercialization process, with vast relationships in the startup and business communities,” Downing said. “We’re pleased to welcome him to EI2and see him bring ATDC, one of the nation’s premiere technology incubators, to even greater success in its mission of helping entrepreneurs build great companies here in Georgia.”


At Panasonic, Avery oversaw the innovation center’s development projects in next-generation automotive systems including, infotainment, bio-sensing, machine vision, deep learning, and heads-up displays.


A tech startup veteran with broad experience in data and wireless voice technologies, Avery was co-founder and chief technology officer of Convergence Corp., a maker of software that connects wireless devices to the Internet. Amazon acquired the company in 1999. Following that acquisition, he joined Amazon as engineering manager.


In 2001, Avery became an early employee of Mobliss, a mobile applications and messaging solutions company in the entertainment space. He later became the company’s chief technology officer. Japan’s Index Corp., a developer of mobile phone content and information and other media services such as video on demand,acquired Mobliss in 2004 for $15 million.


He holds six patents and owns Onboard Now, a developer of software for embedded devices such as smart phones, Web-enabled cameras, and industrial controls.


Avery, who sits on the board of the Midtown Alliance, is a familiar presence at ATDC, having served as a mentor to its startups since July of 2018.


“I am deeply honored to join ATDC and lead this amazing team,” Avery said. “ATDC’s work has resulted in the creation of great, disruptive Georgia companies in health, financial services, hardware, and numerous other sectors. I look forward to continuing ATDC’s momentum of success and legacy of impact.”


He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


About Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2)

Comprised of a dozen programs, including the Advanced Technology Development Center, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development. Through its philosophy of innovation-led economic development, EI2serves all of Georgia through a variety of services and programs designed to create, accelerate, and growGeorgia’s tech-based economy. For more information, please visit,


About the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, is the state of Georgia’s technology startup incubator. Founded in 1980 by the Georgia General Assembly which funds it each year, ATDC’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs in Georgia to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in the creation of viable, disruptive technology companies. Since its founding, ATDC has grown to become one of the longest running and most successful university-affiliated incubators in the United States, with its graduate startup companies raising more than $3 billion in investment financing and generating more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia. To learn more, visit

Navicent Health Announces Collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology

Navicent Health and the Advanced Technology Development Center to Promote Development of Health Technologies and Startups in central and south Georgia.


The Navicent Health Center for Disruption & Innovation (CfDI) team.

The Navicent Health Center for Disruption & Innovation (CfDI) team.

MACON, Ga. (Oct. 29, 2018) —Navicent Health’s Center for Disruption & Innovation (CfDI) is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and its Health Technology (HealthTech) Program. The effort will improve the health and lives of patients in central and south Georgia through the development of new technologies, treatments, and care created by healthcare technology-oriented companies based in the state.


ATDC, the state of Georgia’s technology incubator, launched its HealthTech Program in July 2018. At present, ATDC has more than 40 startups in its HealthTech portfolio, each focused on innovative solutions across a broad number of sectors including population health, caregiver support, patient billing, precision medicine, genomics, medical devices, diagnostics, data analytics, and process improvements in drug research. CfDI will work with ATDC to facilitate access to a clinical community for startups that are transforming healthcare.


Christopher M. Cornue is Navicent Health's chief strategy officer and chief innovation officer.

Christopher M. Cornue is Navicent Health’s chief strategy officer and chief innovation officer.

“Navicent Health is committed to innovation and creating a wide range of solutions, including high-performing health technologies, to improve patient care not only in central and south Georgia, but industry-wide,” said Christopher M. Cornue, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Innovation Officer for Navicent Health. “Working with ATDC, we enhance our ability to deliver innovative, consumer-focused health services through technology to improve patient satisfaction, healthcare outcomes and therefore be better able to create healthier communities.”


Through this collaboration Navicent Health will serve as ATDC’s healthcare facility partner and provide resources for startups in the ATDC HealthTech portfolio. Navicent and ATDC seek positive economic impact in central Georgia. Additionally, they want to contribute to the state economy by supporting the growth and development new startups, with a broader goal of assisting and promoting the acceleration of healthcare startups across the Southeast.

Kirk Barnes headshot

Kirk Barnes is ATDC’s health technology catalyst.


“This is an exciting opportunity for us to work with a premier health organization to drive innovation and commercialization of healthcare technologies that will not only help entrepreneurs in Georgia, but help healthcare systems across the United States in their drive to deliver superior and cost-effective patient care, cut waste, increase access, and improve outcomes,” said Kirk Barnes, ATDC’s HealthTech catalyst and who leads this initiative. “We’re looking forward to seeing the successes this relationship with Navicent Health will yield.”


Founded in 2015, CfDI has become a proven and valuable testing ground for novel clinical approaches to elevate community health while leveraging disruptive technologies designed to engage consumers in meaningful ways. Specifically, ATDC startups selected to collaborate with CfDI will receive:

  • A standard curriculum for conducting “proof of concept” studies along with support tools to understand how to engage future health systems
  • Direct clinical exposure to discover how customers will engage with their product
  • The co-development and joint commercialization of new products that may be introduced to the market with a well-established health system partner.


Those wishing to partner with the Center for Disruption & Innovation may contact Navicent Health. 


About Navicent Health
Navicent Health was incorporated on Nov. 17, 1994, as a nonprofit corporation whose primary purpose is to coordinate The Medical Center, Navicent Health and other affiliated entities in their mission of providing a comprehensive continuum of high quality, reasonably priced healthcare services to the region. Navicent Health has 970 beds for medical, surgical, rehabilitation and hospice purposes. The health system includes The Medical Center, Navicent Health, a nationally recognized tertiary teaching hospital; Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health, the region’s only dedicated pediatric hospital; Navicent Health Baldwin and Medical Center of Peach County, Navicent Health, both rural hospitals; Rehabilitation Hospital, Navicent Health, the region’s oldest and most experienced rehabilitation provider; Pine Pointe, Navicent Health, which provides palliative and hospice care in homes and in its facility; Carlyle Place, Navicent Health, the area’s first continuing care retirement community;  Navicent Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Navicent Health; as well as diagnostic and home care services. For more information, please visit


About Georgia Tech
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world’s premier research universities. Georgia Tech is a national and international leader in scientific and technological research and education and is the nation’s leading producer of engineers as well as a leading producer of female and minority engineering Ph.D. graduates. Ranked among the top public universities by U.S. News & World Report, the Institute enrolls more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students in fields ranging from engineering, computing, and sciences, to business, design, and liberal arts. For additional information, visit


About the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the state of Georgia’s technology startup incubator. Founded in 1980 by the Georgia General Assembly which funds it each year, ATDC’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs in Georgia to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in the creation of viable, disruptive technology companies. Since its founding, ATDC has grown to become one of the longest running and most successful university-affiliated incubators in the United States, with its graduate startup companies raising $3 billion in investment financing and generating more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia. To learn more, visit

Georgia Tech to offer Hacking for Defense course in 2019

Hacking for Defense trainee Colin Ake, left, a principal at Georgia Tech's VentureLab, poses a question to Hacking for Defense Inc. trainers Max Weintraub, center, and Alex Gallo. (Photo by: Péralte C. Paul)

Hacking for Defense trainee Colin Ake, left, a principal at Georgia Tech’s VentureLab, poses a question to Hacking for Defense Inc. trainers Max Weintraub, center, and Alex Gallo. (Photo by: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology will begin offering a course in 2019 designed to give students opportunities to study — and potentially solve — challenges from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and related intelligence agencies.


The semester-long Hacking for Defense (H4D) course was created and first launched at Stanford University in 2016 by retired U.S. Army Col. Pete Newell, retired Special Forces and Foreign Area Officer Joe Felter; Tom Byers, director of the Stanford Technology Ventures program; and Steve Blank, a retired serial entrepreneur and the creator of the Lean Startup movement.


At the Institute, the course will be taught by Keith McGreggor, director of VentureLab, a program in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute that helps faculty and students create startups based on Tech research. Co-teaching the class with him will be Lawrence Rubin, associate professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.


As designed, students will be given a current real problem intelligence or defense agencies face and work on that challenge for the entire semester to validate the problem and work to solve it, Newell said.


“Technology is continually changing and by creating this mixing bowl in a university, you’re in an ideal place for bringing government problems to the problem-solvers and energizing young people into doing something that’s impactful,” said Newell, who is managing partner of BMNT.


BMNT’s nonprofit arm, Hacking for Defense Inc. (H4Di), oversees the H4D program.


H4D addresses four necessary components to help federal agencies be more innovative, said Newell, who is former director of the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force.


For the federal sponsors themselves, they get world-class market research to tackle problems at a faster pace than anywhere else and engage with potential employees or future collaborators by creating an innovation network pipeline.


Students get to work on a real challenge and learn by creating a case study of a real problem, he said.


For private industry, it gives them an early look at the problems government agencies are looking to solve — which often mirror some of the same issues business is trying to address.


Finally, universities such as Georgia Tech, are increasingly looking to deliver cutting-edge education to students that gives them experience in building innovative and disruptive solutions beyond basic research.


That matches the entrepreneurship experience that Tech wants all of its students to have, McGreggor said.


“We’re trying to create an armada of entrepreneurial students and we want every student at Georgia Tech to have that entrepreneurial experience before they graduate,” McGreggor said. “Hacking for Defense is going to be different in that participating students won’t be coming up with a startup idea; these defense and intelligence agencies will meet with us with the problems they want us to figure out. It’s an opportunity for our students to think about solving a different kind of problem.”


Keith McGreggor (right foreground), VentureLab director, listens as Michael Hoeschele, trains attendees of the Hacking for Defense forum on Sept. 20. (Photo by: Péralte C. Paul)

Keith McGreggor (right foreground), VentureLab director, listens as Michael Hoeschele, trains attendees of the Hacking for Defense forum on Sept. 20. (Photo by: Péralte C. Paul)

As part of the rollout and expansion of the program to Tech and other organizations, H4Di was on campus Sept. 20 and 21 to train about 60 people from across the country who will be teaching H4D courses on the methodology behind it.


“The defense and national security challenges we’re seeing are evolving at a pace we’ve never seen before in our history and to tackle these issues, we have to connect DoD to cultures of innovation and those are largely housed in academia and the venture community,” said Max Weintraub who works to form collaborative relationships between the DoD and universities as the H4D program manager at the MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator, the DoD program office that sponsors H4D at Georgia Tech and other leading universities. “We’re excited that Georgia Tech is on the list.”


Tech will join a number of top schools already teaching the class, that, in addition to Stanford, include: Columbia University, the University of Southern California, Georgetown University, the University of Virginia, and the United States Air Force Academy.


What makes Tech an attractive choice is Atlanta’s solid base of entrepreneurial activity, Georgia’s manufacturing and industrial capacity, the number of military installations and government labs in the state and its Southeast neighbors, and the federal research dollars the Institute attracts.


“It’s easy to draw a circle around Georgia Tech right there in the Southeast as being in the epicenter of a great entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Newell said.


Since the original launch, H4D has led to nine startup companies being formed, including Capella Space, a company that makes low-orbit satellites with a synthetic aperture radar technology that takes quality images regardless of clouds, light or other atmospheric conditions.


But while some students may ultimately form their own companies, Newell stressed that is not the core goal.


“We’re giving them the ability to engage with the government to work on a real problem to gain real-world experience,” Newell said. “They get to develop the critical problem-solving skillsets that will be most in demand in the future.”

Georgia Tech hosts Argentina IT delegation

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

Advanced Technology Development Center and Georgia Tech Research Corporation to host first-ever “How to License Georgia Tech IP”

Entrepreneurs invited to attend panel discussion and learn how to find, commercialize Georgia Tech research.

ATDC logo

Do you have a great concept that addresses a market need or solves a business challenge, but don’t know how to find the technology to power your idea? Or are you an entrepreneur who wants to find a commercial strategy for an exciting technology coming out of a research lab?


The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and the Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) are co-hosting a panel discussion, “How to License Georgia Tech IP,” on August 22 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event, which will be held in ATDC’s Community Room at 75 5thSt. NW in Atlanta, is designed to help entrepreneurs learn how to access the Institute’s research findings and commercialize them into viable technology companies. (Register here.)


ATDC is the state of Georgia’s technology incubator helping entrepreneurs launch and scale technology companies. GTRC is the contracting unit for all of Tech’s sponsored research activities. It also licenses intellectual property (IP) developed by Institute faculty and students — including patents, software, and copyrights, among other components.


Georgia Tech Research Corporation“We often hear from entrepreneurs that they have an idea or have identified a problem their idea solves, but they don’t know how to go about finding the technology around which to build their company,” said ATDC Interim Director Jane McCracken. “Or, if they know they can tap into Georgia Tech’s vast research expertise, they don’t know exactly where to go or how to start that process.


“So, with this event, we’re giving entrepreneurs and the public at large an opportunity to better understand how to do that and how we at ATDC and GTRC can be resources to help them access Georgia Tech intellectual property.”


The panelists — which include the founders of three companies that have licensed technology developed at the Institute — will share their respective journeys and insights into building their companies using Tech IP.


McCracken will moderate the panel, which is comprised of (from left to right):

“This panel illustrates the myriad of ways entrepreneurs can license and leverage Georgia Tech-created IP to form new companies,” Bray said. “Musheer is a Tech Ph.D who created his company from the research he conducted, while Finn, who has no Tech affiliation, licensed technology from GTRC for his startup, and Jim is a serial entrepreneur.”


Many entrepreneurs have questions regarding IP law and standards governing licensing, Bray said. Panelist Scott Bryant, an attorney who regularly counsels clients on commercializing university IP, will address that aspect of licensing technology.


“ATDC and GTRC want attendees to have a comprehensive understanding of how they can plug into Georgia Tech and how we can help them create strong companies,” Bray said. “Licensing technology and navigating the university IP landscape can be daunting, but we want this to serve as a blueprint for entrepreneurs.”


About the Advanced Technology Development Center

The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the state of Georgia’s technology startup incubator. Founded in 1980 by the Georgia General Assembly which funds it each year, ATDC’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs in Georgia to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in the creation of viable, disruptive technology companies. Since its founding, ATDC has grown to become one of the longest running and most successful university-affiliated incubators in the United States, with its graduate startup companies raising $3 billion in investment financing and generating more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia. To learn more, visit


About the Georgia Tech Research Corporation

The Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) is a state chartered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation serving the Georgia Institute of Technology. GTRC serves as the contracting entity for all sponsored research activities at Georgia Tech. It also protects and licenses intellectual property (patents, software, copyrights, etc.) created at Georgia Tech. Through technology transfer, GTRC enables the Institute to maintain strong partnerships with the public and private sectors to assure the benefits of discovery are widely disseminated. For more information, visit

To view intellectual property currently available for licensing, visit

Georgia Tech Soft Landings Program accepting applications from foreign companies

Brandy Nagel

Innovation Ecosystems’ program manager Brandy Nagel, left, explains the various components of the business and customer relationship to a group of entrepreneurs.

Expanding a business is always an exciting endeavor. It is also a risky proposition, one full of questions, assumptions, and unknowns. While a company may have mastered the manufacturing of a product or service, its marketing, and distribution, that mastery correlates to a particular customer profile within a specific market.


The target customer in a new market may look the same, but may think differently and have different expectations about how something is purchased or distributed. In addition, expanding into a new country brings additional challenges, such as regulations that could be different. These unknowns make the expansion a risky, lengthy and costly process.


The Georgia Tech Soft Landings Program is designed for those foreign companies looking to come to the United States to reduce the risk of expansion into a new market by maximizing a company’s use of time and resources. (Applications are now open.)


Companies take different approaches to solve this issue. They may pay a consulting firm for a market research study. This may be an in-depth study from a statistical point of view, mixed with focus groups results and surveys. While these studies can provide great information, they do not develop skills or personal connections in the entrepreneur or company. Another approach involves sending a company representative to the new target country. This learning approach provides valuable direct contact with the clients and other partners. However, these trips tend to be lone missions without a clear path. This lack of structure usually slows the process down significantly and may not result in the desired outcome.


The Soft Landings program will build capacity in the participating entrepreneurs by providing a structured and systematic approach to exploring the potential expansion to the U.S. market. The Soft Landings program will educate entrepreneurs and company representatives in legal, operational, and other important requirements for operating in the U.S. It will also provide mentorship, guidance, and accountability as participants complete their own business plans with validated assumptions about their clients, partners, and distributors.


The Soft Landings program will make introductions to potential partners and professional service for additional guidance. The content and structured approach will help the entrepreneurs and companies answer questions, validate assumptions and eliminate unknowns, thus reducing the risk of expanding into the United States.

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Georgia Tech hosts inaugural University Center Roundtable

Lynne Henkiel

Lynne Henkiel, director of Georgia Tech’s EDA University Center, addresses attendees of the inaugural Atlanta Regional Office University Center Roundtable. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s EDA University Center hosted 13 schools from across the Southeast March 13 and 14 for the inaugural Atlanta Regional Office University Center Roundtable.


An initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), these university centers marshal the resources found in colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in areas facing chronic and acute economic distress.


“This meeting was two-fold, for new EDA funding awardees, this was their opportunity to present their plans and discuss what projects they planned to take on,” said Lynne Henkiel, director of Tech’s EDA University Center. “For re-awardees like us at Tech, we shared our success stories regarding past projects and gave guidance on lessons learned from past award cycles.


The conference featured a dozen colleges and universities from the Southeast. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

“It was designed to be an exchange of ideas, strategies and best practices.”


Among the schools in attendance: Georgia Southern University, Auburn, the University of Kentucky, Mississippi State University, Fayetteville State University, Western Carolina University, the University of Florida, University of Tennessee, Tennessee Tech University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of South Carolina.


H. Philip Paradice Jr.

H. Philip Paradice Jr., the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Southeast regional director, discusses EDA funding guidelines for projects. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Georgia Tech has been an EDA award recipient since the program’s inception in the 1980s — the only school with that distinction — since the 1980s.


In her role, Henkiel leads a wide range of outreach activities designed to promote job creation, development of high-skilled regional talent pools, business expansion in innovation clusters, and to create and nurture regional economic ecosystems in the state of Georgia. In addition, the Center seeks to conduct technology-related economic and policy research that will enhance Georgia’s competitive position.


In fiscal year 2017, Tech’s EDA University Center’s work helped save or create 255 jobs and led to private sector investment of $132.9 million in Georgia.


The Georgia Tech EDA University Center is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), which is Tech’s economic development and outreach arm.

GTPAC cybersecurity initiative wins ‘Outstanding Project’ Award

GTPAC received the Outstanding Project Award at APTAC’s annual training conference on Mar. 7, 2018.

GTPAC received the Outstanding Project Award at APTAC’s annual training conference on Mar. 7, 2018.

A Georgia Tech-produced free instructional video that provides step-by-step guidance to government contractors seeking compliance with Department of Defense (DoD) cybersecurity requirements received the Outstanding Project Award from the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC).


The award, given annually, recognizes an accomplishment that stands out from the day-to-day activities that all PTACs organize and undertake.


The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC), which produced the 20-minute video and related template for contractors’ use, accepted the award on March 7, 2018 at APTAC’s spring conference in Jacksonville, Fla. APTAC represents 98 procurement technical assistance centers across the United States and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.


GTPAC is an economic development program of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2). It helps Georgia enterprises identify, compete for, and win government contracts. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense, GTPAC’s services are available at no cost to any Georgia businesses that have an interest and potential to perform work — as a prime contractor or a subcontractor — for federal, state, or local government agencies.


The video is accessible at this link: Its accompanying resources include a cybersecurity template for contractors’ use.


The video and template were funded through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency, and created with the support of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The content of the video presentation does not necessarily reflect the official views of, or imply endorsement by, the DoD, the Defense Logistics Agency, or Georgia Tech.


Members of the GTPAC team proudly show off the national award.

Members of the GTPAC team proudly show off the national award.

Both PTACs, which counsel businesses, and businesses themselves have heralded the video and template as valuable one-stop resources for existing contractors and aspiring DoD contractors alike.  Since the 2017 launch of these training tools, 1,284 persons have viewed the video and downloaded the template 1,508 times.


Specifically, the video explains Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) clause 252.204-7012, including its key definitions and cyber obligations, including its primary requirement that defense contractors which process, store or transmit “covered defense information” must address 110 individual cybersecurity controls outlined in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171.


The 20-minute-video not only provides information on these requirements, but also provides specific guidance on how government contractors can achieve compliance with the DFARS clause and the NIST standards.  The video guides government contractors on how they can perform a “self-assessment” of their information system using NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Cybersecurity Self-Assessment Handbook.


One of the most creative and innovative aspects of the project is the 127-page cybersecurity template GTPAC created in conjunction with the video. The template provides step-by-step instructions on how government contractors can create a “Systems Security Plan” and “Plan of Action” — documentation necessary to achieve compliance.


“The resources we created come just as the DoD’s recent warning that it plans to request and evaluate cybersecurity plans from businesses as a part of the contract award decision-making process,” said GTPAC program manager Joe Beaulieu. “By providing the video and cybersecurity template, GTPAC’s objective is to make the process of achieving compliance much easier, especially for small defense contractors who may not have the resources necessary to develop such plans from scratch.”


The template makes the process of drafting the required documentation easier, as contractors merely have to fill in the blanks and answer specific questions, rather than work from a blank slate. While it is ultimately up to the contractor to meet the requirements and to fill in the blanks, GTPAC’s video and template provide contractors with an excellent starting point for assessing, achieving and documenting compliance.


In honoring GTPAC with the Outstanding Project Award, APTAC encouraged other PTACs to make use of the video, template, and resource materials. NIST recently provided similar encouragement to its nationwide MEP network — including the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) — in their work with U.S. manufacturers.


GTPAC coordinated the creation of the cybersecurity materials with GaMEP, which is a sister economic development program offered through Tech’s EI2.


Gov. Deal announces launch of Georgia Defense Exchange

Gov. Nathan Deal announced the launch of the Georgia Defense Exchange (GDX), an interactive business development platform designed to assist Georgia businesses in finding new opportunities in Department of Defense (DOD) contracting.


“From the Bell Bomber Plant during WWII to the NSA and U.S. Army Cyber Command in Augusta today, Georgia enterprises enjoy a storied history of fulfilling contracts for national defense,” Deal said. “Last year alone, defense contracts executed in Georgia were valued at $6.4 billion. These contracts provide significant opportunities for Georgia businesses and drive new development in local communities across the state. The GDX platform will allow us to equip companies with the tools they need to be competitive in acquiring DOD contracts while ensuring that this long-standing tradition continues in Georgia.”


GDX offers Georgia’s defense contracting community a one-stop data research and collaboration platform. The platform was designed to support and engage businesses across a wide variety of industry sectors with its rich data visualizations, interactive dashboards, real-time DOD data and business-to-business communication tools. GDX will open new opportunities for both traditionally defense-related businesses and service-oriented companies with no experience in defense contracting.


Lockheed Martin, Meggitt, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman account for some of the largest defense contracts in Georgia. Additionally, more than $3 billion of Georgia’s defense contracts are related to services for facility maintenance, science and engineering, equipment and construction.


To develop GDX, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) collaborated with The Simple VUE, an Atlanta-based full-service information technology and data analytics consulting firm, and the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC), a federally funded program that helps Georgia businesses identify, compete for, and win government contracts in order to sustain and grow their businesses.


GDEcD and GTPAC began collaborating on the project in September of 2016. A unit of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s chief economic development arm, GTPAC provided its research data and advised on the creation of an economic development model for the aerospace and defense industries, said Chuck Schadl, EI2‘s group manager of government contracting services, which includes GTPAC and the Contracting Academy at Georgia Tech.


GTPAC staff also arranged for several Georgia defense contractors to provide focus group feedback on the GDX tool, make suggestions, and comment on its utility.


“We pride ourselves on maintaining the best business environment in the nation, and providing top-notch resources for our citizens,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “GDX levels the playing field, giving small businesses in Georgia the chance to know about and respond to the many defense contracting opportunities that are available. I am confident that all Georgia companies will benefit tremendously from GDX, and that our state will increase its competitive advantage in this sector.”