The Georgia Institute of Technology has received a $65 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support a statewide initiative that combines artificial intelligence and innovations manufacturing with a transformational workforce and awareness programs. The grant will increase employment and wage opportunities in rural and struggling communities, as well as among historically underrepresented and underserved groups.
The Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Technology Corridor (GA-AIM) effort is one of 21 winning projects the White House announced today as part of the Biden administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better regional challenge. . The award follows a $500,000 Phase 1 Feasibility Grant the project received in 2021.
“Georgia Tech is honored to lead this vision of collaborative innovation and economic development in all regions of our state,” said Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera. “This award underscores the Institute’s commitment to leveraging our resources and expertise to address grand challenges, serve our state and nation, and amplify our impact on the world.”
The selected winners represent projects in 24 states with grant amounts ranging from $25 million to $65 million.
“As we invest in and grow critical industries in the United States, we want to create industrial hubs in diverse communities across the country,” US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “These grants will provide critical and historic funding directly to community coalitions to invest in new infrastructure, research and development, and workforce development programs while creating well-paying jobs, supporting workers and prioritizing equity.”
The GA-AIM project is led by Aaron Stebner, associate professor at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering; Donna Ennis, director of diversity engagement and program development at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and also director of its Georgia MBDA Business Center; and Thomas R. Kurfess, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute.
“The ability to integrate our discoveries and innovations here at the AI Manufacturing Pilot Facility with new workforce programs and transformative outreach experiences is a unique opportunity to do something bigger in a meaningful way. increase opportunity and prosperity for all Georgians,” Stebner said. “Through an equitable focus on innovation in AI manufacturing, the united coalition of partners and stakeholders across the state will build a more prosperous and resilient Georgia and lead by example nationally. “
The AI Manufacturing Pilot Facility, which will enable government and industry pilot testing, cybersecurity gaming and workforce training for AI manufacturing technologies, is only part of Georgia Tech’s support for the project.
Two of Georgia Tech’s commercialization programs – VentureLab and I-Corps South – will create a hub for commercializing AI manufacturing technologies in local and regional startups through training based on National Science’s I-Corps program Foundation.
The Enterprise Innovation Institute, the economic development arm of Georgia Tech, will engage in targeted outreach and technical assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers and minority-owned businesses through its Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership programs. (GaMEP) and Georgia MBDA Business Center. Other Enterprise Innovation Institute programs include the Economic Development Lab, Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, and ATDC, which will focus on outreach and engagement in disadvantaged and underserved areas of the state, create programs workforce development plans, implementation strategies and attract outside investment.
“The work we will do with our wide range of partners in this new venture will leverage the latest in artificial intelligence technologies to develop and strengthen our workforce ensuring that Georgia’s growing manufacturing sector has the skilled workforce it needs for today as well as tomorrow’s needs,” Kurfess said. “At the same time, well-paying, secure jobs will go to a very diverse population base across the state, providing an equitable and robust future for all citizens of Georgia.”
Georgia Tech’s Supply Chain and Logistics Institute will study the impact of automation technologies, create automation solutions tailored to rural manufacturers, and create programs that reduce barriers to manufacturer access farmers to the use of the pilot AI manufacturing facility.
Finally, Georgia Tech’s InVenture Award and Center programs for education integrating science, math, and computer science will focus on rural and underserved areas of the state by piloting a rural regional event with a region-specific pricing. They will also create additional lessons focused on AI and data science that will be part of a K-12 InVenture Prize program website.
“We are thrilled to be part of this collaborative effort to catalyze research and innovation in AI and manufacturing across the state of Georgia,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, executive vice president of the research at Georgia Tech. “This project aligns with our goals to expand economic opportunity in underserved communities across our state and to serve as a collaborative center for interdisciplinary research that advances technology and improves people’s lives.”
Georgia Tech is working with a statewide coalition of partners to create a foundation that supports the growth of existing businesses and new business ventures across the state, especially in underserved communities and rural Georgia.
“Across the state of Georgia, our Enterprise Innovation Institute programs work hard to unlock potential and foster economic opportunity for all, especially in underserved and marginalized communities,” said David Bridges, vice president. from the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and co-author of the grant proposal with Stebner. “This project leverages what we and our partners do best to help achieve our larger Georgia AIM goals.”
Tech partners include:
Georgian Department of Community Affairs
Georgia Cyber Center
Houston County Development Authority
Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs
Robins Air Force Base 21st Partnership of the century
Southwest Georgia Regional Commission
· Color technologists
Georgia Education Collaborative Technology Association
Georgia Technical College System
University of Georgia
“What’s really special about this effort is that it’s centered around a holistic approach to innovation, not just one element of AI or manufacturing,” Ennis said. “We are working collectively across the state to transform and propel our industry, our communities and, most importantly, our people.”
This collective approach is critical to the success of GA-AIM, said Houston County Development Authority Executive Director Angie Gheesling.
“The Development Authority and the 21st Century Partnership leads the Middle Georgia Innovation Project, which includes 11 counties in the Middle Georgia region, a diverse landscape of rural and urban communities,” she said. “This award further facilitates the continuation of many years of collaboration between local leaders, our universities, private industry and Robins Air Force Base to position ourselves as a software center of excellence. We are grateful to Georgia Tech for the opportunity to partner and contribute to the overall future success of GA-AIM.
Burunda Prince, COO of the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs, echoed those sentiments, saying its reach is magnified exponentially through the GA-AIM partnership.
The center will create a 5,000 square foot LaunchPad AI mobile innovation studio to provide prototyping and proof-of-concept development of physical products. Black entrepreneurs in rural and urban Georgia will have access to equipment, training and mentorship, and LaunchPad AI will also be open to AI InVenture teams from K-12 urban schools in Atlanta.
“As part of the Build Back Better grant, the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs will help Black businesses leverage the benefits of artificial intelligence to deliver better data and insights that will build stronger businesses and drive business. greatest wealth,” Prince said. “What makes this opportunity unique is the cross-collaboration of partners who will engage and empower communities across Georgia through access to often inaccessible technologies.”
Equally important is the education component and its ability to serve as a gateway to new skills and opportunities for Georgian workers, said Greg Dozier, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia.
“The project funding will equip four TCSG colleges with state-of-the-art manufacturing studios that will showcase the clean and safe state of modern manufacturing,” Dozier said. “Manufacturing automation creates a demand for more skilled jobs, which places the burden on TCSG to bolster the labor pool by training Georgians in these exciting new technologies. The Georgia AIM Project provides the funding needed to seize these opportunities head-on.