Buoyed by encouraging words from Georgia Tech officials, an economic development expert and Georgia’s State Senate majority leader, eight local startup companies graduated from the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) on May 14. The graduation ceremonies were part of ATDC’s 2012 Startup Showcase, held at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center.
Part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, ATDC is a startup accelerator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful technology companies. Each year, member companies that have met rigorous growth milestones are selected to graduate.
Calling ATDC “the flagship” of the institute’s economic development programs, Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson praised the level of support the center offers emerging firms. “Success is seldom a one-man enterprise,” he said. “These companies can now go on to be tremendously successful.”
Stephen Fleming, a Georgia Tech vice president and executive director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, outlined ATDC’s history and noted the recent expansion of the entrepreneur-in-residence program, which gives member companies access to CEOs and others who have successfully created their own startup firms.
“We are making use of a lot of the resources from our community,” Fleming said.
Bill Cronin, vice president of economic development for Invest Atlanta, told the graduating firms they and other companies like them are a vital part of the city’s business culture. “Last year, the companies that were incubated at Georgia Tech directly represented $84 million annually to our local economy,” Cronin said.
“This is only a start, as these companies ripen and mature, they will make money and hopefully reinvest in their businesses and our economy,” Cronin added. “They will cross-pollinate and create new strains of technology, industry hybrids and innovative business ideas.”
State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), a 1991 graduate of Georgia Tech, said the eight firms are “a microcosm of what America is all about: innovation, free markets and entrepreneurship.”
Nina Sawczuk, general manager of the ATDC, mentioned the two new community catalysts – Jennifer Bonnett and Chip Schooler – and detailed results of a new survey of ATDC member companies that indicated 98 percent of members would recommend the program to other startups.
The 2012 ATDC graduates included:
- 3DM Systems (formerly ShapeStart Measurement Systems), which produces an in-ear, three-dimensional scanner for the digital design of custom hearing aids and ear molds.
- Asankya (which has been acquired by EMC Corporation), a provider of technologies used by firms offering computer cloud storage.
- Axion BioSystems, which makes products used for neural and cardiac toxicology testing and the screening of potential drug compounds by pharmaceutical companies.
- BioAutomaton Systems Inc., which designs and manufactures patented automation systems for cost-effective propagation of transgenic tree seedlings.
- Celtaxsys, which is focused on the discovery and development of therapeutics to treat inflammation by controlling innate immunity.
- Digital Assent, whose technology delivers personalized health information and advertising to consumers in doctors’ waiting rooms and at home.
- Preparis, which provides a web-based series of services and apps that build corporate emergency preparedness and security.
- SimpleC, which produces technologies that deliver cognitive therapies to those suffering from dementia.
On the Floor
Graduation wasn’t the only component of the 2012 Startup Showcase. After the formal ceremony, event attendees moved to an exhibit hall featuring 45 ATDC member companies and Georgia Tech researchers displaying their products and technologies.
Steve Dickerson, founder and CEO of exhibitor SoftWear Automation, which produces technology that automates the sewing of garments, said his booth was experiencing a healthy amount of traffic.
He also had praise for ATDC, from which two of his other startup companies have graduated. “It’s the whole level of support [ATDC gives] you,” Dickerson said. “I’ve leaned on ATDC to come up with everything from ideas on investors to company names. I’m pretty darn pleased.”
A half dozen Georgia Tech researchers also showed the technologies they were developing:
- Douglas Cox, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering: Solar Car.
- Maysam Ghovanloo, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering: Tongue Drive System.
- Tanya Marlow, School of Interactive Computing: Mobile Music Touch Glove.
- Jayant Ratti, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering: Robotic Insects.
- Patricio Vela, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering: Robotic Arm.
- Gil Weinberg, Center for Music Technology: Robot Travis.
About ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) serves as the hub for technology entrepreneurship in Georgia. Founded in 1980, ATDC helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful technology companies by providing coaching, connections, and community. Through business incubation and acceleration services, ATDC has supported the creation of hundreds of technology companies that together have raised more than a billion dollars in outside financing. Headquartered in Atlanta’s Technology Square, ATDC members benefit from a close proximity to Georgia Tech and connections with other Georgia research universities. ATDC was named one of the “10 technology incubators that are changing the world” by Forbes Magazine in 2010.
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