Georgia Tech moves forward with Technology Square expansion project

Development will support leading-edge research programs in computing and advanced big data analytics.

The Georgia Institute of Technology received approval to proceed with the high performance computing center lease agreement during today’s meeting of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. This step follows the recent selection to move forward with Portman Holdings as the project developer for Georgia Tech’s expansion of Technology Square.

The proposed 750,000-gross-square-foot, mixed-use project will be located between Spring Street and West Peachtree Street near the Scheller College of Business and the Georgia Tech Hotel in Midtown Atlanta. Georgia Tech will serve as an anchor tenant, taking approximately one-half of the new development. The remaining space will be available for corporate entities and partners. The Institute plans to locate academic and leading-edge research programs in computing and advanced big data analytics there.

The site, the former Crum and Forster building at 4th St. and Spring St., would add up to 750,000 square feet.  (Rendering/Georgia Tech)
The site, the former Crum and Forster building at 4th St. and Spring St., would add up to 750,000 square feet. (Rendering/Georgia Tech)

“This expansion is one of the most exciting developments since the opening of Technology Square more than a decade ago and will provide extended options for those looking to be a part of Georgia Tech’s innovation ecosystem,” said Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance Steve Swant. “We are pleased to take the next step in providing an interdisciplinary collaborative environment that will ultimately magnify Technology Square’s positive impact in the Midtown Atlanta area and the state of Georgia.”

With a targeted 2018 opening, the Technology Square expansion will support economic development in Atlanta and the state by creating jobs, new tax revenues and technology clusters, according to Swant.

“We are thrilled Portman has been selected to work with Georgia Tech on a new kind of workplace—a ‘Class T’ office with adjoining data center and vibrant public space,” said Ambrish Baisiwala, chief executive officer of Portman Holdings. “This building will be special—bringing people together in a mixed-use community of innovation, education and intelligent exchange that represents a paradigm shift in office development.”

John Portman IV, chief operating officer of Portman Holdings, added, “The histories of Portman Holdings and John Portman & Associates are inextricably linked to Atlanta and Georgia Tech, and we look forward to collaborating together on this landmark development in Tech Square.”

The project offers a highly desirable, strategic destination for prospective stakeholders, according to John Majeroni, Georgia Tech’s executive director of Real Estate Development.

“We are excited to complete this milestone; however, in order for the project to be feasible, we still have plenty of work ahead,” said Majeroni.

Georgia Tech’s next steps will involve working with Portman Holdings on pre-development activities, securing economic support and getting additional state approvals.


Finding a cure for what ails Defense acquisition

US CongressAround the nation’s capital, defense acquisition reform is surely in vogue. Last month, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, capped off his multiyear expedition in this space with the unveiling of a House bill to modernize the Pentagon contracting. On the other side of Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain. R-Ariz., and the Senate Armed Services Committee have taken up the issue as well.

pentagon-sealEnter Frank Kendall. Just a few short weeks after Thornberry put his stake in the ground, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition, logistics, and technology released Better Buying Power 3.0. The initiative complements Thornberry’s broad legislative push with a set of tactical recommendations that aim to coax the many stakeholders in the defense sector toward more efficient collaboration and more effective outcomes. Though BBP 3.0’s provisions get way down into the weeds of the Defense Department’s acquisition machine, its fundamental (and lofty) goal is to protect American “technological superiority.” In this light, the initiative builds on earlier versions appropriately in certain respects and falls short in others.

While the message is “stay the course” in some areas, this latest cut ventures into new terrain in several ways to preserve the military’s technological edge. BBP 3.0 reinvigorates “prototyping and experimentation” to get greater capabilities out to soldiers at a faster clip. The initiative also promotes stronger long-range research and development efforts, positioning the Pentagon to harness new technologies for tomorrow as well as for 2030. It’s a prudent, yet ambitious campaign.

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Georgia Tech launches financial technology accelerator

Worldpay will expand its commitment to accelerating payments technology innovation with a $1 million gift and mentorship commitment to Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), company and university officials announced Tuesday.

Worldpay will fully fund a new Financial Technology accelerator at ATDC for the next three years, which will include hiring a FinTech expert to serve as an entrepreneur-in-residence to mentor startups. Worldpay executives are also mentoring entrepreneurs at the center, providing both payments expertise and Worldpay’s global resources to support companies within the new program.

“As the leaders in modern money, Worldpay is creating new payments experiences for software and applications that business owners use to run their businesses smarter across all channels,” said Worldpay US President and CEO Tony Catalfano. “To sustain our competitive advantage, we must continue to innovate and attract top talent, both key drivers behind this groundbreaking partnership.”

“The ATDC has empowered scores of entrepreneurs to grow their ideas into successful companies,” added Catalfano, who also serves as the board chairman of the American Transaction Processors Coalition. “Our commitment is about investing in the smartest, most-creative innovators so the next generation of financial technology will be built right here in Georgia.”

“We are always focused on bringing businesses to our state, but we also want to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs to build their businesses right here in Georgia,” said Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. “This is a groundbreaking public-private partnership that will create jobs and help secure Georgia’s place as the country’s leader in financial technology for another generation. I congratulate Georgia Tech and Worldpay on this collaboration and look forward to seeing the results.”

The announced partnership underscores Georgia Tech’s statewide economic development mission.

“This gift from Worldpay will enhance the innovation ecosystem that is rapidly developing in Tech Square,” said Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson. “We are fulfilling our mission to create new products that will foster new companies and job opportunities for all of Georgia.”

As a statewide startup incubator, ATDC is always looking at the technologies that are of interest to entrepreneurs in Georgia, said ATDC Director Stephen Fleming.

“Financial technology is important for us and the state because it’s a sector where Georgia is a leader,” added Fleming. “ATDC will use Worldpay’s gift and executive mentorship to ensure that Georgia stays at the cutting edge of FinTech.”

More than 70 percent of all U.S. payments are processed in Georgia’s “Transaction Alley,” according to the American Transaction Processors Coalition. More than 60 percent of the industry’s companies are based in metro Atlanta, supporting more than 40,000 jobs in the state.

Tuesday’s announcement comes on the heels of Worldpay’s announced relocation of its U.S. headquarters to Midtown Atlanta this year. The company will invest more than $10 million to move more than 600 employees to the city and add an additional 600 workers over the next four years.

About Worldpay

Worldpay is a leading global payments technology and services company, which allows merchants to accept payments anywhere in the world, across any channel. Headquartered in London and operating in over 30 countries, the company offers services across the entire payments value chain, including transaction capturing, merchant acquiring and transaction processing.

In 2014, the business processed a total of 10.7 billion transactions with a value of more than half a trillion dollars, making it one of the largest payments companies in the world. The company employs over 4,700 people in markets throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Worldpay US is headquartered in Georgia, and recently announced it will move its headquarters to Midtown Atlanta this year.

Worldpay is owned by private equity firms Advent International and Bain Capital alongside management and employees. For additional information, 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 23,000 students within its six colleges. For additional information, visit

About the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)

The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is one of the oldest and largest university-based startup incubators in the country. ATDC, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, has graduated about 150 companies from its program. ATDC is a unit of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s chief economic development arm. For additional information, visit


Survey: Federal procurement culture impedes innovation

Signs of technology malaise can be seen across the federal government. The Pentagon has warned that it is losing its military technological superiority as other countries rush to develop advanced conventional and cyber weapons to counter U.S. armaments and satellites. The U.S. intelligence community worries that technologies it used to own almost exclusively — like high-resolution satellite imagery, encryption and biometrics — are progressing far more rapidly in the civilian world.

These appear to be symptoms of a widespread ailment that affects government contracting, say procurement experts. “Agency acquisition professionals are not focused on innovation,” says a new report by the consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP and the Professional Services Council, a trade group that represents government contractors.

The report is based on a survey of 51 acquisition executives. Asked to rank issues based on their importance, innovation placed low. It was rated as the fifth of six objectives of a “sound acquisition process” even though senior administration officials have been emphatic about the need for agencies to become more innovative.

“Innovation is the word of the day,” and yet the bulk of the federal acquisition community has neither the incentives nor the skills to change the status quo and attract innovative vendors, says Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council.

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Georgia Tech honored for economic development efforts

The Georgia Institute of Technology received an "Innovation" award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its statewide economic development efforts in a number of sectors. Accepting the award are (l-r), Lynn Durham, assistant vice president; Robert Knotts, director of federal relations; Chris Downing, associate vice president, Enterprise Innovation Institute, and William "Bill" Schafer, vice president of student affairs.
The Georgia Institute of Technology received an “Innovation” award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its statewide economic development efforts in a number of sectors. Accepting the award are (l-r), Lynn Durham, assistant vice president; Robert Knotts, director of federal relations; Chris Downing, associate vice president, Enterprise Innovation Institute, and William “Bill” Schafer, vice president of student affairs.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named the Georgia Institute of Technology and three other public institutions of higher learning its winners of the 2014 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities (IEP) Awards.

Tech received the “Innovation” award for its technology-based focus in its economic development efforts. Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), its key statewide business outreach and economic development arm, is a critical component of those efforts, as well as commercialization of inventions, and other initiatives. The award follows APLU’s designation of Tech as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University earlier this summer.

The IEP awards, announced Monday, Nov. 3, in Orlando, highlight the efforts of APLU’s member institutions to beef up economic development in their states through a number of initiatives, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and other efforts.

Along with Tech, APLU recognized the University of Massachusetts- Boston, North Carolina State University, and the University of Houston.


How mature is the government contracting market?

A few months ago, I was preparing some course material to address corporate strategy in the government contracting space.  I wanted, as almost all business school professors do, to use a case study or two from any one of the famous business schools that produce them.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – This is the first in a three-part series on the future of the government contracting market. The series is based on a speech John Hillen, former CEO of Sotera Defense Solutions, delivered as part of the Brown & Brown distinguished lecture series at George Mason University’s School of Management. This first essay deals with the maturation of the GovCon market over the past 50 years.)

Out of tens of thousands of case studies, I could hardly find one done about a government contracting firm.  When I asked a former Harvard Business school professor why this was so, he offered that he doubted that many professors producing these case studies thought that government contracting was a “real” market.

The view is more widely held than one might suspect – even in the national capital region.  Many thoughtful members of Congress involved in acquisition policy, senior leaders in the executive branch, members of media, academia, and elsewhere that I’ve spoken with think that the GovCon market is really more of a political process than a “real” market characterized by competition, innovation, and transparency.  Their prevailing view is that if a GovCon firm can figure out the political process and play that game better than the next guy, they win the contract, right? One monolithic buyer served by a few cartels in a closed cottage industry, right?

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How one Navy contractor navigated Washington’s choppy waters

Raymond Lopez Jr. spent three decades in the Navy, starting out as a seaman apprentice and retiring with the rank of commander. When Lopez and his wife Carol started Engineering Services Network, a defense services company, in 1997, they built their business on Navy contracts, growing from a small start-up into a $38 million-a-year enterprise. Lopez felt like he had never really retired from the Navy.

But when the clouds of budget cuts gathered in Washington a few years ago, he realized it was time to move out of his comfort zone. The Crystal City company decided to diversify its business — a hot button word in defense contracting circles.

Back in 2004, ESN had worked on a $551,000 Air Force contract. Seven years later, when Lopez was looking to expand outside of Navy work, the connections established on that job helped the company win a crucial five-year, $38 million IT services contract with the Air Force.

The experience cemented Lopez’s decision to enter information technology. More than half of ESN’s business is still generated from providing engineering, operations and technical support services for the Navy, but federal IT jobs — managing tasks in cybersecurity and software development — now account for nearly 30 percent of its revenue. The company has worked with the Air Force, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Got an idea to improve IT contracting? The government wants to know

The federal government is looking for a few good ideas to improve how it does business with information technology contractors.

Using IdeaScale’s crowdsourcing platform, the Federal Chief Acquisition Officers and Federal Chief Information Officers councils are seeking an “open dialogue” to help the government “streamline, modernize and improve” the federal contracting process whether it’s through executive action or new laws. The deadline for participation – which is open to anyone – is May 5.

According to the council’s website, such steps could help “remove barriers and burdens for small and minority-owned businesses and new entrants with limited resources and expertise in federal contracting” as well as reduce costs and red tape for existing government contractors.

The government is seeking discussion and input in three specific areas in an effort to make existing rules and practices more efficient and less onerous

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Grants and missile defense hit hardest in DoD’s science and technology budget request

Overall funding for the Defense Department’s science and technology budget undergo about a $500 million reduction in the president’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal, with grants and missile defense bearing the brunt of the cut, says a DoD official.

About $200 million of the proposed budget reduction would come from cuts to grant programs nationwide, which equates to about 1,500 grants, said Alan Shaffer, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering.

The department also took about $150 million out of its Missile Defense Agency Science and Technology program, said Shaffer during an April 8 hearing of the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities. The decision made sense because much of the technology has matured to a level where it could be moved to other parts of the department, he added.

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GTRI launches Trustmark website at identity ecosystem steering group meeting

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) hosted the 7th plenary of the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group (IDESG) Jan. 14-16, 2014 in support of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).

During the event, GTRI launched a new website on the Trustmark technology at A trustmark is a rigorously defined, machine-readable statement of compliance with a specific set of technical or business/policy rules. The use of trustmarks has been pioneered by GTRI and developed with funding from the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), a White House initiative to work collaboratively with the private sector, advocacy groups and public-sector agencies to create an “identity ecosystem” in which technologies, policies and consensus-based standards support greater choice, trust, security and privacy with online transactions.

IDESG has been established as a new organization led by the private sector in conjunction with, but independent of the federal government.

In October, GTRI was awarded an NSTIC pilot project grant. Under the grant, GTRI will develop and demonstrate a trustmark framework that facilitates cost-effective scaling of interoperable trust across multiple communities of interest within the identity ecosystem and enhances privacy through transparency and third-party validation.

Trustmarks have the potential to enable wide-scale trust and interoperability within the identity ecosystem by helping to foster transparency and widespread operational convergence on the specific requirements for each dimension of interoperability, including communication protocols and profiles, cryptographic algorithms, business-level user attributes for access control and audit purposes and various levels of policy such as privacy policies and practices.

Trustmarks can also reduce the complexity of the identity ecosystem’s trust landscape, and turn what would otherwise be a collection of poorly interconnected “federated identity siloes” into a more cohesive trust environment. In addition, trustmarks can enhance privacy within the identity ecosystem by helping communities of interest define clear, concise and rigorous privacy rules that participating agencies must follow.

“The concept of trustmarks and a trustmark framework mean different things to different stakeholders,” said John Wandelt, principle investigator for the GTRI NSTIC trustmark pilot.  “The vision of identity ecosystem where trustmarks can be broadly re-used and trusted across several communities of interest to satisfy interoperability, privacy, security and trust needs will require transparency, collaboration and sufficient engineering rigor to concretely specify.”

The new website will facilitate a common understanding of trustmarks and a trustmark framework.  Artifacts resulting from the GTRI pilot project will be posted at this website along with blogs and other related information.

“The objective is to solicit comments from the IDESG, other NSTIC pilots, and the community at large while maintaining the integrity of our pilot schedule,” said Wandelt.

“Trustmarks and Trust Frameworks are a common theme across multiple pilots and discussions in the IDESG,” said Jeremy Grant, Senior Executive for the NSTIC Program Office.

“GTRI’s decision to provide visibility into their trustmark pilot artifacts and findings early on is a great example of the type of collaboration we are encouraging between NSTIC pilots and the IDESG,” said Grant.  “It should contribute to accelerating substantive discussion and progress in this important area.”

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