Study Praises Tech's Economic Impact

Report shows Georgia Tech's Incubator among national elite

An economic development study conducted by the State of Connecticut ranks Georgia Tech among the nation's elite institutions for generating economic development through university transfer of technology.

The study, released by Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, has far-reaching implications for job growth, economic development and education. The study examined successful university-based technology transfer and commercialization initiatives throughout the United States.

The report - Accelerating Economic Development Through University Technology Transfer - notes several factors that help states position their universities as centers of innovation and business growth, including strong academic leadership and research capabilities, availability of early stage capital, commitment to and support of entrepreneurship programs, and the existence of infrastructure such as innovation centers, incubators and research parks.

Georgia Tech was one of nine universities selected as a case study for the report.

The report states that, "Georgia Tech is one of the strongest universities in terms of its relationship with and assistance to industries of all sizes and its strong role in statewide economic development."

According to the report, "Perhaps what is most remarkable about the Georgia Tech model of technology-based economic development is how intertwined it is with state and local economic development initiatives. When one examines the economic development initiatives linked to the university, it is difficult to readily discern which initiatives are State of Georgia and which are Georgia Tech.

Moreover, the level of private sector involvement in helping shape and direct these initiatives is stronger than in almost any institution in the country. Georgia actively solicits industry input through advisory boards and councils at its colleges and research centers, and this has helped shape the institution's curriculum, R&D focus, and service orientation as well as encourage direct industry involvement."

The report acknowledges that there are certain issues that must be worked through by institutions in regards to balancing academic life with the corporate need for commercial confidentiality. It cites Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Georgia Tech as institutions that appear to have found a balance between achieving academic excellence and pursuing technology transfer and commercialization goals.

The report notes the importance of having early stage capital and a good incubator system. Sam Florance, director of the Gateways Program at Purdue University, agrees. "We have found that those firms (in Purdue's Research Park's incubators) that don't receive support in the early stages face a long, hard road. For those firms that do receive management, resource and technical support, they have about a 90 percent chance of a five-year survival."

The report praises the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) as one of the premier incubators in the country, and the Economic Development Institute (EDI) is also highlighted in the case study. "It is widely recognized as one of the strongest, if not the strongest, university-based economic development program in the nation," the report said of EDI.

Other universities selected for case studies include: Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue University, Stanford University, University of California-San Diego, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin -Madison, and Washington University (St. Louis).

The study was conducted by Innovation Associates, of Reston, Va. on behalf of the Connecticut Technology Transfer and Commercialization Advisory Board of the Governor's Competitiveness Council.