The Georgia Institute of Technology is among 12 U.S. universities cited for their success at creating economic impact through innovation. The list, known as “Innovation U 2.0,” uses case studies to describe innovation-related attributes of each university, including goals and aspirations, leadership, entrepreneurship, industry and community partnering and technology transfer.
Georgia Tech is one of only six universities – Carnegie Mellon University, North Carolina State University, Purdue University, Stanford University and the University of Utah are the others – to be included in both the 2014 and 2002 versions of the report.
“One of the more heartening aspects of the Georgia Tech story is that the institution has largely stayed true to the aspirations of the founders back in the 19th century,” the Innovation U 2.0 report says. “Those aspirations were to develop a first class technological university, one that combined excellence in academic education with a hand ‘in the shop,’ and one that enabled Georgia to create a modern economy.”
The report goes on to note that Georgia Tech’s vision is more than just aspiration.
“All of those things have been achieved and the bar continues to be raised as its impact is felt throughout the world,” the report continues. “Georgia Tech is one of the great American stories [of how] sustained inspired leadership, diligence in execution, and an ever-expanding vision and culture can accomplish amazing things.”
Innovation U 2.0 quotes from Georgia Tech’s strategic plan, which was approved in 2010, and cites examples of how it has been implemented:
- “Georgia Tech – a place that is both theory and science-driven but also a place that has become very good at fostering technological innovation, applications, and knowledge-based enterprise.”
- “One of the assumptions and themes of this book of cases is that innovation, entrepreneurship, and private sector interest is enhanced when universities do more research and problem-solving in the context of interdisciplinary centers and institutes. Georgia Tech has wholeheartedly embraced that assumption.”
- “These involvements put Georgia Tech in fairly exclusive company among institutions that are able to launch and maintain these fairly complex partnership relations with other institutions as well as corporate technology leaders.”
- “Of note, roughly 50% of licenses executed by Georgia Tech in 2012 were granted to Georgia companies.”
- “Georgia Tech takes its innovation mission seriously, and has done so for a long time.”
The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), home to the majority of Georgia Tech’s economic development and business assistance programs, gets special attention in the report.
“The programs are quite diverse in terms of clients or participants, physical and organizational location, and collectively they encompass a continuum that extends from early technology and venture development to established firms with significant history,” it says of EI2. “These programs leverage a mix of state, federal, and private sector funding to enhance economic development in the state of Georgia. Conceptually, the programs and clients are all united by the emphases on innovation and entrepreneurship, and the structure enables program leadership to share best practices and policies across the heterogeneous mix.”
Summing up EI2, Innovation U 2.0 concludes: “Among the cases in this volume, [Georgia Tech's EI2] is probably the most novel organizational solution to the inherent diversity of activities that fall under the labels of innovation and entrepreneurship, and one that seems to have enough authority to give it a fair trial.”
Technology Square was under construction when the 2002 Innovation U report was done. The 2014 version notes the impact of the midtown development, which is home to not only EI2, but also the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech Professional Education, Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, Technology Square Research Building, and Barnes & Noble Georgia Tech Bookstore.
“Technology Square can be seen as an intentional design effort by Georgia Tech to foster inter-sector engagement by creating a mixed-use district,” says the report. “Technology Square is still only 10 years old. It is early and the aspiration is that this area will evolve into a high tech bazaar with a large variety and number of entities involved.”
Innovation U 2.0 was produced by Louis G. Tornatzky, who recently retired from California Polytechnic State University, and by Elaine C. Rideout of North Carolina State University. The complete report is available online at (www.innovation-u.com).
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