Georgia Tech to Lead Technology Coalition to Advance Inclusive Innovation Across the State

Susie Ivy

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Announced by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan on Aug. 17th, Georgia Tech will take a lead role in the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private partnership created to foster technology access, growth, entrepreneurship, and evolution across the state of Georgia. The organization is the first of its kind — a statewide, public-private partnership built from the ground up entirely in a virtual environment.

The new organization follows the foundational work of the Georgia Innovates Task Force, established by Lt. Gov. Duncan in January 2020. The task force, under the chairmanship of G.P. “Bud” Peterson, president emeritus of Georgia Tech, and former U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, made recommendations last month to formalize efforts that will establish the state as a national leader in technology research, development, and implementation. Peterson will continue as board chair. Debra Lam, current managing director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech, has been named executive director of the new organization.

“Through collaboration between industry and education, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation has the potential to transform our entire state and the lives of its citizens,” said Ángel Cabrera, president, Georgia Tech. “We are very grateful to Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan for creating the Georgia Innovates Task Force earlier this year, and for the thousands of volunteer hours that my predecessor, co-chair G.P. “Bud” Peterson, and other civic and community leaders and supporting organizations invested in creating this exciting vision. We at Georgia Tech are honored to help Georgia maximize inclusive innovation throughout our state.”

Following the recommendations of the task force and building on the state’s existing infrastructure and leadership, the organization’s focus will center on “foundational, transformational, and sustaining” work throughout the state of Georgia that is guided by principles of connectedness, talent, diversity, sustainability, and identity. Pilot programs will focus on providing access to digital resources and education; advancing agriculture, food system innovation, venture capital growth, and lab-to-market tech transfer; and ensuring resources, access, and opportunities are sustained via public-private partnerships.

Advancement efforts will include a series of high-impact, low-cost pilot programs, including K-12 Digital Readiness, Advanced Food Supply Innovation, and Regional Industry/Education Collaboratives. The first set of pilots, including Civic Data Science for Equitable Development in Savannah and a Traffic Monitoring and Communication System in Valdosta, were recently announced by the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge.

“Georgia Tech’s leadership role in the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation is an ongoing testament to its strategic mission of advancing technology to improve the human condition,” said Lam. “The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation's establishment also reflects the level and depth of statewide commitment to improve access and opportunities for all Georgians. It was an honor to work with the full Georgia Innovates Task Force, and I look forward to working with the esteemed board of advisors and the greater innovation ecosystem to deliver real impact.”

Additional pilots are planned, with the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation working closely with local governments, startups, nonprofits, and other collaborators, increasing access to educational, entrepreneurial, and technological opportunities for Georgians as well as attracting new talent to the state’s workforce. Program funding will be provided through a combination of state, industry, and philanthropic support.

Joining Peterson and Lam, the board for the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation will include members representing government, industry, and higher education organizations.