Archive for April, 2010

Attention Georgia Leaders: It’s Time for Gazelles


By April 29, Georgia’s elected leadership will have completed a budget that cuts hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s budget.  Hard choices have been made, and more decisions loom in these final days of the legislative session.

 Historically, Georgia has worked hard to create a positive business environment.  This has been a critical element of our success in luring top companies to the state.  But it is becoming increasingly apparent to futurists, economists and others that the needs of existing business must be balanced with strategies for nurturing promising new enterprises. 

According to the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in promoting innovation in America, virtually all net new jobs in the U.S. since 1980 were created by firms that were five years old or less.  Even more importantly, the fastest growing one percent of these young companies generate approximately 10 percent of new jobs in any given year. These companies – sometimes called gazelles – contribute an average of 88 jobs per year, and most end up with between 20 and 249 employees. 

What can we do to establish a herd of gazelles in Georgia?  We must continue to invest in innovation.  It is the innovators who build new economies and improve the way we live, the way we do business, and the way our state is perceived.  In Georgia, these are companies like Suniva, Internet Security Systems, CardioMEMS, MedShape Solutions, Damballa and Senstrinsic.  Not all of these names are widely recognized yet, but they represent the future Microsofts and Genentechs.

 Many of these “gazelle” companies and their leaders emerge from research universities.  Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google and many other companies that have reinvented American business emerged as a result of work by university researchers.  Understanding this potential, Georgia has invested enormous time, energy and capital over the past 20 years to establish a group of six nationally-recognized research universities, all of which are members of the GRA.  The results have been impressive: Investments in GRA have brought more than $2.6 billion in new federal and private funding to Georgia.  In 2009 alone, GRA Eminent Scholars – high profile researchers recruited to the state by the GRA – generated over $200 million in non-state funding to pursue their discoveries.  More than 5,500 jobs have been created through GRA and 175 new companies can trace their origins to university inventions fostered by GRA investments.  Research and our own experience show that creating an environment attractive to entrepreneurs and researchers is the fastest way to grow quality jobs in Georgia, but aggressive cuts in higher education and research threaten our progress and our national reputation.

Our legislators have tough decisions to make in the days ahead.  One critical decision is how to grow and nurture Georgia’s gazelles.

C. Michael Cassidy
President and CEO
Georgia Research Alliance

First published in Insider Advantage, April 22, 2010

April 27, 2010 at 10:47 am 1 comment

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service selects GRA as partner

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected the Georgia Research Alliance as a partner in facilitating the adoption of ARS research outcomes by small businesses and universities in Georgia and the Southeast. ARS is the in-house scientific research agency of the USDA, employing approximately 2,100 scientists in the United States and abroad. The agency is charged with conducting research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority.

“Our new relationship with ARS will further our technology-based economic development mission by helping Georgia agribusinesses and research universities tap the vast array of innovative agricultural technologies developed in ARS laboratories nationwide,” said Mike Cassidy, president and CEO of the GRA. “This, in turn, will create new research, product development, commercialization and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

 The ARS-GRA relationship is formalized through a Partnership Intermediary Agreement, which establishes GRA as a facilitator of interactions between ARS and potential developers of ARS technologies.

 “We are very excited to work with GRA to provide businesses, entrepreneurs and university researchers with access to the latest technologies and scientific expertise necessary to develop new ways to address pressing agriculture challenges,” said Rick Brenner, assistant administrator of the ARS Office of Technology Transfer.

 GRA has focused on agribusiness, among other biotech and scientific areas, since its inception in 1990. GRA has successfully fostered commercialization efforts on behalf of the state’s research universities and has helped recruit scores of world-renowned scientists to Georgia through its Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholars® program. The organization was fundamental in establishing the National Environmentally Sound Production Agriculture Laboratory (NESPAL) at the University of Georgia.

 GRA is planning an Agricultural Technology Roundtable during the fall of 2010. The roundtable will demonstrate ARS and Georgia university technologies, showcase case studies of how these technologies have been commercialized and promote networking among ARS and university scientists, entrepreneurs and the agribusiness industry.

April 21, 2010 at 9:18 am Leave a comment

Leading HIV Scientist Named GRA Eminent Scholar

Guido Silvestri Named Chief of Yerkes Division of Microbiology and Immunology and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine for Emory School of Medicine

One of the nation’s leading investigators in the field of HIV/AIDS will join Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center and School of Medicine as a Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Eminent Scholar. Guido Silvestri, M.D., will serve as chief of the Division of Microbiology and Immunology at Yerkes and hold a primary appointment in Emory’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

 Silvestri’s appointment is effective June 1. Currently, he serves as associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory and co-director of the HIV Pathogenesis Program in the University of Pennsylvania Center for AIDS Research. At the University of Pennsylvania, he developed a comprehensive and highly collaborative research program that spans nonhuman primates and humans. His National Institutes of Health funding is more than $2.5 million annually.

 Silvestri will join more than 60 other GRA Eminent Scholars in Georgia and increase the number of scholars at Emory University to 11.

 “Dr. Silvestri will deepen and broaden the already significant HIV/AIDS research and development capacity in Georgia,” said Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of GRA. “His commitment to collaboration and his leadership experience are key to making Georgia a frontrunner in unraveling the daunting puzzle of HIV/AIDS.”

During the past three years, Silvestri has carried out transformative studies pinpointing abnormal levels of inflammatory response to HIV as a key factor in disease progression. He has established himself among the world’s foremost investigators on viral diseases in non-human primates that mimic HIV disease in humans. His work also includes collaborative studies on HIV vaccine development with investigators in the Emory Vaccine Center and studies on the evolutionary relationships of SIV and HIV related to immune dysfunction in HIV-infected individuals.

April 13, 2010 at 10:00 am Leave a comment