Topic #2: Start-Up Innovation – How to create a connected innovation start-up environment in Middle Georgia

From research carried out to date in Task 1, Task 2 and the working group phase which constitutes Task 3 of the project, it has been established that there are a concentration of existing innovation centers and partnerships that exist around the Universities and RAFB.

However, to create a connected ‘innovation start-up’ environment in the Middle Georgia region the existing innovation centers need to connect with each other in addition to the day-to-day inspiring work that the centers are already carrying out independently. The following themes have arisen from work to date on the project in relation to creating a ‘connected innovation start-up environment’ in the Middle Georgia region.

What we know so far:

  • No comprehensive network exists for innovators in the region to come together and share ideas. There is a need for a single ‘go to’ organization to tap into for information and mentorship. Examples of the Advanced Technology Development Center in Atlanta and the SCAP Incubator in Savannah were noted as statewide examples of such organizations.
  • There needs to be more ‘maker spaces’ to bring entrepreneurs together.
  • There is a lack of entrepreneurial ‘vibe’ or mindset and the region is culturally more ‘job-centric’ than entrepreneurial. There is a need to create more mentorships to encourage this mindset and vibe.
  • There is a lack of private investment/venture capital and funding from start up to incubation. This impacts on the speed and scale up from innovation to commercialization. There is a need for a clear pathway to get an ‘idea into production’ and then scale up.
  • Macon and Warner Robins host a fledgling start up culture and have a reasonable degree of entrepreneurial business dynamism, which could be harnessed as part of an innovation start up culture.

We would love to hear your thoughts!

How do we create a connected innovation start-up environment in Middle Georgia? What are the practical steps in the short and medium term that need to be taken to create such an environment?  Do you have examples of successful methods to create a connected innovation start-up environment from other states?

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Innovation starts local, but if we don’t have the local innovation ecosystem in place that encourages the development of new ideas and businesses, many potential innovators won’t know how to access the resources they need. Additionally, there needs to be an organization that helps connect the local innovation centers together so each one doesn’t become a silo. The sharing of ideas and resources is critical to building a regional innovation ecosystem, and building a sense of innovation into the population.

Great points Dan. All of these points were brought up in the Start-Up Innovation Ecosystem Meeting 2 earlier. Please keep posting! Deb Socia from The Enterprise Center, Chattanooga especially mentioned the need for someone/some organization to OWN this -someone who wakes up each day and works on activation, placemaking, building collaborations, connecting and networking help for entrepreneurs.

From our work to date, including surveys, focus groups, interviews and now working groups, it seems that there are three themes emerging in relation to the Start-Up Innovation Ecosystem. 1) The Human component – strong leadership, collaboration, mentorship and the messaging of success. 2) Physical proximity and the notion of a geographical innovation corridor. 3) Creating connections and spaces so that collisions that occur are creative.

A healthy and active ecosystem will know when there are start-ups about to bud. A single point of contact, an “ombudsman” for entrepreneurs would notice those buds and immediately ensure connection to the catalysts available.

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For more information about The Middle Georgia Innovation Project, please contact:

Angie Gheesling, Executive Director
Development Authority of Houston County
200 Carl Vinson Parkway
Warner Robins, GA 31088
Phone: (478) 923-5470