The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded the Georgia Institute of Technology a Science and Research Park Development Grant — one of 12 such awards to universities and government entities the agency announced on May 22. 2015.
The $460,707 grant will be used to study the feasibility of expanding Technology Enterprise Park (TEP) on Atlanta’s west side into a health and bioscience hub.
“This grant provides us an exceptional opportunity for Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta to help create high-paying jobs and economic opportunity for the city’s west side,” said Chris Downing, associate vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Tech’s chief statewide economic development arm. Downing led the effort in crafting the grant proposal. The University Financing Foundation, Invest Atlanta, and the Atlanta Housing Authority also served as partners in the project proposal.
The target area encompasses approximately 60 acres and will assess the viability of expanding TEP’s footprint. Georgia Tech founded the technology park, which is located at North Avenue and Northyards Boulevard, in 2004.
As planned, the vision for the expanded park would be the interconnection of parcels of land owned by the project’s collaborators and supporters. Those include Tech, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the city of Atlanta, among others. The goal is to create a health and bioscience hub in an economically distressed part of the city.
As a hub it would be a natural location for startups in the health and bioscience sectors spinning out from area schools, including Tech, Georgia State University, Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Clark Atlanta University.
Existing health and bioscience companies such as CardioMems, Kemira, and CryoLife would be able to expand their current operations without leaving the area, and it would be a magnet for leading-edge research and innovation enterprises such as the Global Center for Medical Innovation and the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
The project will study the best practices Georgia Tech has implemented in the development of the neighboring Technology Square in Midtown, which serves as a model for innovation-led economic development success. This area of the west side could enjoy a similar outcome, Downing said. “It has the potential to create thousands of jobs and deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in economic output.”
The Science and Research Park Development Grants are part of the Regional Innovation Strategies program, which is being run by the EDA Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It is a new initiative designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country through three different types of grants: i6 Challenge grants, Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds, and Science and Research Park Development Grants.
In March, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the recipients of the i6 Challenge Grants, which included $500,000 to Georgia Tech to support a sweeping innovation and entrepreneurship initiative in Athens, Augusta, and downtown Atlanta.