Georgia Tech Strengthens ATDC to Support Growth in Technology Startups

To help meet the growing demand for support to Georgia technology entrepreneurs and startup companies, Georgia Tech is strengthening and realigning resources in its Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a technology accelerator that has assisted entrepreneurs for more than 30 years.

ATDC will expand its staff of technology catalysts and entrepreneurs-in-residence, add new facilities to support specialized startups, and expand office and incubator space at its headquarters in midtown Atlanta’s Technology Square. The expansion will involve hiring new personnel and refocusing responsibilities for some existing positions.

“Entrepreneurial companies are the largest source of new jobs and new economic activity in today’s changing economy,” said Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson. “As part of our historic economic development mission, Georgia Tech has focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, and new business startups. We’re pleased to respond to the growing need for services that will help boost the economy and create jobs in our city, state, region, and nation.”

ATDC helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful technology companies by providing coaching, connection and community-building services. Founded in 1980, ATDC has helped create thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues by graduating more than 140 companies, which together have raised more than a billion dollars in outside financing. During 2012, ATDC assisted 322 technology companies, currently houses more than 40 startup companies in its incubator facilities, and plans to graduate five additional companies in at its annual Startup Showcase in April.

“Entrepreneurs and the fast-growth companies they create are vitally important to the future of Atlanta’s economy,” said Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “For decades, Georgia Tech has been the focal point for launching and building technology-based companies in Atlanta, and we’re pleased to see this renewed emphasis on growing startups based on science and technology innovation.”

ATDC currently has three facilities: two in Atlanta — its headquarters plus a satellite life-sciences facility on the Georgia Tech campus — and one as part of Georgia Tech facilities in Savannah. Multiple new satellite facilities are planned in Atlanta to provide space for startups with specialized needs, such as microelectronics fabrication, medical device development, advanced manufacturing and sustainable energy.

ATDC serves Georgia technology entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they have a connection to Georgia Tech. However, intellectual property arising from Georgia Tech’s $655 million-per-year research program has driven many recent startup companies, including photovoltaic manufacturer Suniva and medical device developer CardioMEMS.

Georgia Tech’s nationally-recognized VentureLab program focuses on commercializing the results of research activities, and will benefit from the expansion of the ATDC. Related programs for startups include Flashpoint, a program that educates company leaders in startup discovery, and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) I-Corps, which teaches NSF-supported researchers to identify commercial opportunities and test their viability using scientific principles.

“Georgia Tech wants to see that our research with clear market potential gets to companies that will commercialize it,” said Stephen E. Cross, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research. “We want to fully support the creation of spinoff companies based on our research results as well as companies originating in Georgia’s growing community of entrepreneurs. Altogether, VentureLab, Flashpoint and I-Corps provide a comprehensive commercialization assistance program that is the best in the nation and already launches more than 20 startups per year into ATDC.”

The ATDC expansion will be accomplished by reallocating existing Georgia Tech resources without additional state funding, and will be completed by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, said Stephen Fleming, a Georgia Tech vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the parent organization to both ATDC and VentureLab.

“This revitalization and expansion of ATDC will allow us to play an even larger role in catalyzing the innovation and creativity of Georgia entrepreneurs as they build new companies, new jobs and new economic activity,” said Fleming. “The new economy is demanding a different type of support for entrepreneurs, and we’re proud to respond to this challenge.”

In all, ATDC expects to hire six additional entrepreneurs-in-residence (EIRs) and catalysts who will be focused on supporting the growth of technology entrepreneurs and startup companies. ATDC catalysts are full-time staff members who support companies and manage the programs of the incubator. ATDC EIRs are experienced entrepreneurs who work part-time for limited periods of time assisting startup companies by sharing their long-term experience.

In addition, five existing EI2 employees will be reassigned to support the development of startup companies.

ATDC is currently interviewing candidates for its general manager, who will oversee the planned growth. Fleming expects to name the new general manager during the second quarter of 2013. EI2 also recently hired a new principal for VentureLab.

“ATDC has been the center of Georgia’s technology community for more than three decades, and it has served as a model for what states and universities can do to help grow a dynamic community of startups,” said Fleming. “We’re confident that this expansion will position ATDC to help move Georgia forward, building on the strong community of technology entrepreneurs we already have.”

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