Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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June 13, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Southeast Shoutouts | A lot of news out of Atlanta this week

We also spotlight new initiatives at two universities related to AI.

From Atlanta, GA:

Two Atlanta area universities are making news.

  • Georgia State University’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute (ENI) has selected a diverse group of founders and innovative companies for the fourth cohort of its Main Street Entrepreneurs Seed Fund. The innovative program is designed to enhance Georgia State’s strategic goal of creating an ecosystem that provides opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators to develop new ideas and scale their own businesses. With an emphasis on fostering inclusive entrepreneurship, the six-month program supports Georgia State students, recent alumni, and community entrepreneurs with seed funding and mentorship to start and grow new ventures. The Marcus Foundation, Bank of America, Georgia Power, and Ahmet Bozer (MBA ‘83), a retired Executive Vice President at Coca-Cola, have supported the program since its inception in 2019. To learn more, click here.
  • JPMorgan Chase has awarded the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC) a $1 million grant over the next two years to conduct new research on Metro Atlanta’s business assistance ecosystem and expand a certificate program for small businesses, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. With the latest grant, JPMorgan has now given $2.6 million to the MIEC since 2017. According to the article, one of the goals of the research is to map the organizations that help business owners, what types of assistance the groups provide, and what sorts of businesses they help.

Separately, Georgia Institute of Technology has announced the launch of an artificial intelligence (AI) hub that will unite AI entities across campus, enabling the Institute to align on goals to become an international thought leader in AI. It will also drive AI education and research and development toward real-world, responsible applications. The vision of the AI Hub at Georgia Tech is to advance AI through discovery, interdisciplinary research, responsible deployment, and next-generation education to build a sustainable future. More information can be found here.

From Summerville, SC:

The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) has a new Director of Finance and Administration who last served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in Charlottesville, VA. The Foundation owns and operates Monticello, Jefferson’s former home. In her new role, Laura Terry will be responsible for leading the strategic direction of SCRA’s finance and administration function and also serve as Treasurer of SC Launch Inc., the investment affiliate of SCRA, which invests in eligible SCRA member and portfolio companies that create higher-paying jobs in the state.

From Birmingham, AL:

Alabama Inno reports that Birmingham-based agtech start-up Chonex is taking on the regenerative agriculture sector with a product designed to restore health to degraded soil. After raising nearly $6 million last summer and $2.5 million in January, the company is planning a $40 million funding round to build a new plant. That will allow Chonex to expand the production of its signature product name StrongSoil which is intended to improve farmers’ finances and make agriculture more sustainable by solving the issue of modern plant genetics’ production capabilities outpacing soil’s natural capacity. The product regenerates soil health to improve crop resilience, drought tolerance, and reliance on fertilizers as well as the ability to farm new land.

From Tampa, FL:

The University of South Florida (USF) is launching a certificate program for one of the tech industry’s most-watched sectors. As you might guess, it would be in the AI space. Participants in the new AI Graduate Certificate are required to take four online courses that provide detailed information about crucial domains in AI as well as how to modify AI tools and strengthen programs like ChatGPT. The certificate also serves as a pathway for those interested in enrolling in the USF Master of Science in Data Intelligence, which also launches in the fall.

According to the news release announcing the program, the university noted that Tampa is among the fastest-growing U.S. tech hubs for information technology (IT) talent with an average salary of $120,900. The Tampa Bay Economic Development Council reports the number of businesses in the IT industry in the region has increased 27 percent during the past five years, growing from 13,400 businesses to nearly 17,000. It’s projected the industry will continue to grow in Tampa with more than 3,700 jobs added by 2027.


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