Chris Downing to head Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2)
Chris Downing has been named vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech's chief unit dedicated to economic development and innovation. Downing has held a number of different roles at Tech — all in economic development — in his 28-year-career at the Institute.
The Georgia Institute of Technology has named Chris Downing vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), effective immediately.
The announcement ends a six-month national search for a new vice president, following Stephen Fleming’s decision to step down from the position in December 2015. As the Institute’s chief business outreach organization, EI2 is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development.
Downing will report directly to Stephen E. Cross, executive vice president for Research at Georgia Tech.
“I am thankful for this opportunity and I remain focused on our core mission at EI2 to fulfill Georgia Tech’s commitment to economic development,” Downing said. “Working with the dedicated professionals at EI2, we will enhance Georgia Tech’s work in designing the future through our service to entrepreneurs, business, researchers, innovators, and the people of Georgia.”
Downing had served as EI2’s associate vice president since 2012 and as interim vice president since October 2015. He has been at Georgia Tech in various leadership roles related to economic development since 1988.
“EI2, including its multiple programs that support Georgia startups, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs across the state, serves all aspects of economic development in Georgia. It is a vital component of the innovation ecosystem we have built at Tech Square,” Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson said. “Chris has worked diligently to support and enhance our economic development initiatives, as well as to forge and maintain strong partnerships with other organizations across the state to strengthen the Georgia economy.”
Downing, whose past posts at Georgia Tech included serving as research engineer, program manager, regional manager, and director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) — EI2’s largest program — has brought national recognition to the unit and several awards, including the 2014 Innovation Award in Economic Development from the Association of Public and Land Grant Institutions, the 2014 Outstanding Research Park Award from the Association of University Research Parks, and the National MEP Innovation Award in 2011 for the GaMEP.
“Chris has elevated EI2’s commitment to technology commercialization, business and industry outreach, and entrepreneurship,” Cross said. “Through his leadership, EI2’s stature and prominence in Georgia as the state’s most comprehensive economic development organization has risen. His passion and commitment to EI2’s mission has helped to make Tech Square the Southeast’s premier neighborhood for innovation and economic development and is instrumental in helping to define other innovation neighborhoods adjacent to the rest of the campus.”
About the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2):
The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI²) is the Georgia Institute of Technology’s chief business outreach and economic development organization. EI²’s core mission is to provide an exhaustive suite of programs to assist business, industry, entrepreneurs, and economic developers across Georgia. As the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-base program of its kind, EI² helps enterprises of all kinds and sizes and across all sectors improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology, and innovation. For more information, please visit innovate.gatech.edu.