You may not know it, but there’s a movement happening in Georgia. In the heart of Midtown Atlanta, across the state at university campuses, and in incubators, accelerators, co-working and maker spaces from Columbus to Augusta, the Peach State is quietly becoming an epicenter of innovation.
With everyone from Fortune 500 companies to brand-new startups joining the action, it’s becoming clear that the culture of innovation in Georgia is here to stay. The reason why? Georgia’s thriving Innovation Ecosystem, anchored by the Georgia Centers of Innovation.
The term Innovation Ecosystem describes the wide array of participants and resources necessary for innovation in a modern economy. Georgia’s consists of players in five main sectors: industry; colleges and universities; investment and funding; non-government organizations; and the government itself. These participants cover everything from corporate innovation centers and economic development departments to industry associations and chambers of commerce, as well as local, state and federal government entities.
Sitting at the center of the state’s Innovation Ecosystem are the Georgia Centers of Innovation, a value-added service of the Georgia Department of Economic Development that provides businesses the technical industry expertise, collaborative research and strategic partnerships needed to help the state’s strategic industries connect, compete and grow.
With six focused Centers of Innovation in aerospace, agribusiness, energy technology, information technology, logistics and manufacturing, the Centers provide specialized assistance to almost any Georgia business in need of additional support.
If you’ve watched a movie or TV show lately, it’s easy to see that an ever increasing number of them are being produced in Georgia. This burgeoning business has been benefiting from greater collaboration with the commercial “drone” industry through the Center of Innovation for Aerospace. The connection between the film and unmanned aircraft industries allows both to innovate and grow together.
When Replantable co-founders Ruwan Subasinghe and Alex Weiss developed their Nanofarm, it was the Centers of Innovation for Energy Technology and Manufacturing that enabled the startup to do pre-launch testing and find a low-cost contract manufacturer who could build their first batch of small kitchen-sized appliances. On the heels of their successful Kickstarter campaign, where they raised more than $60,000 in just under 30 days, Replantable is ready to bring the farm to your kitchen.
Eric Parker, co-founder of Sumo Robot League, connected with the Center of Innovation for Manufacturing to help produce the components for their educational robots. The Sumo Robot League, operated by Hack Augusta, uses robotics to inspire middle and high school students.
Students design and build robots and enter their finished creations into a fully autonomous sumo wrestling tournament held in Augusta. During hands-on lessons, students build their own electrical circuits, code sensor-based autonomous response algorithms, and design 3D-printed adaptive components.
By merging friendly competition, programming basics, design, and engineering, students gain skills in the fundamentals of technology – a key requirement for today’s workforce.
Georgia’s Innovation Ecosystem is a resource to fuel the big ideas that will lead to new companies, markets and careers. The Georgia Centers of Innovation are here to assist companies throughout the state through partnerships with state, federal and private institutions that comprise our Innovation Ecosystem. To learn more about how the Centers of Innovation can take your business to the next level, visit Georgia.org/Innovation.
Steve Justice is executive director of the Georgia Centers of Innovation, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development providing technical expertise and research to help Georgia businesses grow globally.