Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle Visits Georgia Tech

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle visited the Georgia Institute of Technology campus Oct. 6 to get a firsthand look at Technology Square’s thriving innovation ecosystem.

Cagle met with President G.P. “Bud” Peterson and Chris Downing, vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech's chief unit dedicated to economic development and innovation and the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of its kind.

The visit was designed to show Cagle how the activity at Tech Square brings entrepreneurs, startups, and Fortune 500 firms together to connect, create, and collaborate, and ways to replicate that success across Georgia.

He toured Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center. Led by Jennifer Bonnett, general manager, ATDC is an EI2 program that serves as Georgia’s statewide technology incubator.

Cagle discussed startup efforts successes and challenges with several ATDC companies, including Clean Hands Safe Hands, a wireless hand hygiene monitoring system for hospitals, and Gozio Health, where he learned about its smartphone-based wayfinding platform that improves hospital visits for both visitors and medical facilities.

The lieutenant governor also met with VeriSolutions, a sensor-based startup that works with restaurants to prevent inventory loss, optimize staff efficiency, and improve customer food safety.

“Atlanta could be the Silicon Valley of the Southeast,” Cagle said following the tour, which included visits to two corporate innovation centers: health insurer Anthem’s Innovation Studio and Southern Co.’s Energy Innovation Center.

Paul Judge, a Tech graduate with a doctorate in computer science and chairman of Pindrop, told the lieutenant governor that venture capitalists see that Atlanta has a distinct advantage in terms of talent and access to Georgia Tech resources and expertise.

Pindrop, a cybersecurity company located at the historic Biltmore — which the Georgia Tech Foundation has acquired  — is a Georgia success story.

CEO Vijay Balasubramaniyan launched the company in 2010 while he was pursuing his doctoral degree at Tech’s College of Computing. The then-fledgling company started out in VentureLab, Tech’s incubator for startups founded by Tech students and faculty. Pindrop also received early financial support from the Georgia Research Alliance to bring the idea to a viable concept stage. VentureLab also partnered with Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech startup accelerator that works with founders to get them to think strategically about their business.

It then went through ATDC’s Signature program and graduated in 2014. Pindrop announced this year that it had raised $75 million in its Series C funding round.

“We’re doing a wonderful job, and we have to protect, help, and encourage what’s going on here in Atlanta. We also have to spread that across the state,” Cagle said.

EI2 has been doing that through ATDC, Downing said, noting the “ATDC @” program — which brings the incubator’s curriculum and management to its partner communities — currently operates in Savannah, Augusta, Athens, and soon, Peachtree Corners.

“A core part of our mission at EI2 as Georgia Tech’s chief economic development arm, is to do that and help communities across the state scale and help them leverage their assets for economic development,” Downing said.