Motorola Veteran Joins Georgia Tech to Head FutureMedia Initiative

Renu Kulkarni Leads Effort to Create Open Innovation Environment

With world-class university research, proven engineering and commercialization expertise, a successful community of entrepreneurs -- and leading digital media, communications and entertainment industries -- Georgia is poised to be a global pioneer and innovator in shaping the future of social, digital and multimedia.

As head of Georgia Tech's FutureMedia Initiative, Renu Kulkarni's charter is to help bring all these elements together in an open-innovation environment that will make the state of Georgia both a leader in developing new media and a model for how to bring new ideas to market.

"Mine is a collaborative role, one that will help all the players span the innovation cycle from research to discovery to creation, commercialization and scale-up," she said. "My job will be to connect universities, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and industry to create a rich and robust open innovation ecosystem that builds on and leverages our world-class resources."

Most recently vice president for technology partnerships at communications giant Motorola, Kulkarni has more than 20 years of experience in turning research and development into new products, building strategic alliances for industry, and developing new business.

Before becoming vice president, she also directed Motorola's research and development portfolio, managing a $150 million-per-year fund, a technology and market trend analysis program, and research and development partnerships with customers. She also served as Motorola's senior director for corporate strategy and held a variety of business consulting, marketing and technical management positions for companies including Deloitte Consulting, BellSouth International, Sprint and GTE Corp.

Kulkarni holds an M.B.A. from Emory University's Goizueta Business School and a B.S. degree from Georgia Tech's Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She is also a graduate of the Stuyvesant High School, the famed mathematics and science magnet school in New York City.

At Georgia Tech, she reports to the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), Georgia Tech's applied research organization, and to the Enterprise Innovation Institute, which helps enterprises of all kinds become more competitive through the application of science, technology and innovation. Together, the two institutions span the innovation cycle from research and discovery to commercialization and scale-up.

"With its more than seven decades of experience in integrating research results to solve real-world problems, the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) can play a key role in bringing resources together to ensure that Georgia takes advantage of the opportunities in future media," said Stephen E. Cross, GTRI's director and a Georgia Tech vice president. "With her background in technology collaborations, Renu Kulkarni is the ideal person to lead this initiative."

One of Kulkarni's first assignments has been to lead development of the FutureMedia conference (www.futuremediaga.org) to be held on October 15, an event she expects will "start the conversation" about what Georgia needs to do to capitalize on its strengths.

The broad-based event features Chris Klaus, founder and CEO of Kaneva, Krishna Bharat, creator of Google News and Ron Clark, founder of The Ron Clark Academy. It will also include speakers from the University of Georgia, the Savannah College of Art and Design, Emory University and Georgia Tech -- and demonstrations from more than 60 startup companies and dozens of university researchers.

Speakers from Georgia Tech will include G.P. "Bud" Peterson, Georgia Tech's president; Elizabeth Mynatt, director of the GVU Center, and Janet Murray, Dean's Recognition Professor in the School of Literature, Communication and Culture (LCC) and director of LCC's Graduate Program in Digital Media. Stephen Fleming, vice provost of Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute, will moderate a panel discussion on the state of digital media.

Hosted by Georgia Tech, the event is sponsored by Turner Broadcasting. Partners include the Creative Coast Alliance, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Research Alliance, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta, the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia, the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Technology Association of Georgia, the Technology Executives Roundtable, and Venture Atlanta 09.

Beyond the event, Kulkarni has been meeting with more than a dozen campus leaders in digital media and with business organizations across the state that have a strategic interest in future media.

What's the ultimate goal of FutureMedia?

"We envision a physical and virtual place where all are invited to experiment, discover, create, commercialize and shape the future of digital media," Kulkarni said. "We want to create an open innovation ecosystem that will make Georgia a global pioneer in this field and provide a model not only for what we do in future digital media, but also in how we do it."

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Media Relations Assistance: Kirk Englehardt (404-407-7280); E-mail: (kirk.englehardt@gtri.gatech.edu) or John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon