The Georgia Institute of Technology has launched a sweeping restructuring of its business and community assistance programs as part of a new initiative known as the Enterprise Innovation Institute.
The restructuring brings new and established Georgia Tech programs together into a broadly integrated initiative designed to help industry, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities become more competitive through the application of science, technology and innovation.
Creation of the Enterprise Innovation Institute represents the first major reorganization of Georgia Tech’s economic development and business assistance programs since the Economic Development Institute (EDI) was formed in 1993. The changes affect all activities of Georgia Tech’s former Office of Economic Development and Technology Ventures, including the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) business incubator, VentureLab research commercialization effort, Commercialization Services initiative and former Economic Development Institute.
Supporting Georgia Tech’s goal of defining the technological university of the 21st century, the new organization will expand efforts to identify and transfer key innovations likely to have significant impacts on local, state and national economies. Plans for the restructuring grew out of consultations with key Georgia Tech stakeholders, findings of the 2005 Georgia Manufacturing Survey, and recommendations from the National Innovation Initiative co-chaired by Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough.
“The future viability of local, state and national economies will depend largely on their ability to successful apply science, technology and innovation,” said Georgia Tech Provost Jean-Lou Chameau. “Through the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech will bring its considerable resources to bear on helping enterprises of all types become more competitive in today’s global marketplace.”
A leader in science and engineering education and with a research program totaling more than $400 million per year, Georgia Tech is a major developer of science and technology innovations. Building on these new technologies and collaborating with like-minded organizations, the Enterprise Innovation Institute will work with the private sector to apply innovations to real marketplace needs, he said.
“The rapid and dramatic changes taking place throughout the world mean U.S. companies can no longer compete just by reducing costs and boosting efficiency,” said Georgia Tech Vice Provost Wayne Hodges, who heads the new organization. “Business is now global and companies must complete on the basis of innovation. To succeed in the future, companies must be able to develop and commercialize innovative products, processes and services ahead of their competition.”
Beyond driving innovation into business, industry and government, he explained, the new Enterprise Innovation Institute will also make Georgia Tech’s services to industry and communities more customer-focused, more closely tied to the strengths of the institution, and better able to take advantage of Georgia Tech’s expertise. It will also expand efforts to form new companies and create new commercialization opportunities based on technology developed by Georgia Tech researchers.
“Because of its research and service programs, and participation in national competitiveness initiatives, Georgia Tech is uniquely positioned to help our state’s companies and communities both understand and meet the challenges ahead,” Hodges added.
Underscoring the challenges facing Georgia companies, the 2005 Georgia Manufacturing Survey found that 18 percent of the state’s manufacturers had lost business to international outsourcing between 2002 and 2004. But on a more hopeful note, the survey also found that companies relying on innovation for a competitive edge enjoyed larger sales margins, paid higher wages – and had less to fear from outsourcing than did companies relying on other forms of competition.
The new Enterprise Innovation Institute provides services through four primary units organized by customer group:
- Industry Services, which focuses on industrial customers around the state. This unit includes the Georgia Tech Regional Office Network; Atlanta-based centers that focus on such productivity improvements such as quality, lean enterprise, energy and environmental management; and federally-supported programs such as the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center.
- Commercialization Services, which focuses on moving technology out of the laboratory and into the marketplace. Commercialization Services identifies Georgia Tech innovations with potential commercial value, works with faculty to determine the best path for commercializing the technology, helps license technology established companies, and – where appropriate – involves experienced entrepreneurs in forming new companies.
- Entrepreneur Services, which focuses on meeting the needs of emerging companies around the state. The unit includes the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the Georgia Statewide Minority Business Enterprise Center, the Centers of Innovation program and the new SBIR Assistance Program for the State of Georgia, which helps eligible companies win federal R&D grants.
- Community Policy and Research Services, which brings innovation to local and state government entities while conducting technology-based research and policy projects that help communities provide a supportive environment for business and industry. The group’s best-known services are WebFIT, which helps communities anticipate the results of land-use decisions, and LOCI, which assess the economic impact of development.
A fifth new unit, the Strategic Partners Office, assists companies seeking to develop Georgia Tech relationships, serving as bridge to a broad range of campus-based resources and people.
“We see a need for more strategic and comprehensive assistance to these companies that are forward-thinking and interested in innovation,” Hodges said of the Strategic Partners Office. “Expanding our relationships with them will help create synergies between Georgia Tech assistance programs that will boost both their value and impact.”
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