Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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January 03, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Southeast Shoutouts | Items from Florida, Georgia and North Carolina

Events, a massive new development, and the opening of an Atlanta location for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are among the items worth noting.

From Atlanta, GA:

Two Atlanta residents best known as Partners in Atlanta Ventures and Atlanta Tech Village have revealed plans to expand to an area of the city known as South Downtown. That’s according to a report in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The area is near Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Gulch. The purchasers are David Cummings and Jon Birdsong. The former founded Atlanta Tech Village in 2012, and it is the fourth-largest entrepreneurship center in the country.

According to the article, the plan is to purchase 53 buildings that were headed for foreclosure as part of a second location for the Tech Village. “One parallel for the new South Downtown idea is Station F in Paris, known as the largest start-up campus of its kind,” the article notes. The venture by Cummings and Birdsong would expand the concept of Station F from a hub into an entire community with low-rise housing, local start-ups, and restaurants “into the reinvigorated district.”

Also from Atlanta, GA:

  • The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) announced that Disney Experiences renewed, for the third consecutive year, its commitment to RICE’s Supply Chain Accelerator Program (SCAP), which prepares Black entrepreneurs to do business in the public and private sectors, including with Fortune 500 companies. Disney also expanded its support to sponsor the development of Digital RICE, a virtual platform that will help entrepreneurs nationwide. These newest investments bring Disney’s total contribution to more than $1 million, solidifying the company as the lead sponsor of both initiatives. The company’s sponsorship of Digital RICE will expand the nonprofit’s reach beyond Atlanta, removing geographic barriers to access the knowledge and expertise offered by RICE programs. Digital RICE is described as “a dynamic platform meticulously crafted to connect the community and provide comprehensive support for the growth and success of Black-owned businesses, offering tailored assistance, a plethora of resources, and personalized advice.”
  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that it will open a new regional office in the city to serve innovators in the Southeast region. The new office will serve as an extension of the agency’s outreach operations, functioning as important resource center to better serve local inventors and entrepreneurs, including those from underrepresented backgrounds. The new regional office in Atlanta is expected to be fully opened and operational by December 2025.

From Research Triangle Park, NC:

North Carolina’s booming biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry will need at least 8,000 new workers by the end of 2026, an article in WRAL TechWire notes. Will the state be able to provide that workforce and, if so, how?

These are among the questions addressed in a new report, “Window on the Workplace 2023, Workforce Training Needs for North Carolina’s Biopharma Manufacturing Industry.” The 57-page report, published by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in partnership with NCLifeSci, the Tar Heel state’s life sciences organization, is available here.

The newest report is based on a 2022 survey of 33 biopharmaceutical manufacturing sites across North Carolina employing 13,786 people, a number that represents 43 percent of the sector’s total employment in the state. The sites included those manufacturing biologics, vaccines, cell- and gene-based therapies, regenerative medicines, biologics for R&D, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, supplements, and nutraceuticals. The study did not include sites manufacturing other life sciences products such as medical devices, laboratory supplies, or equipment.

From Greenville, SC:

The South Carolina life sciences community will gather in the Upstate area in early February for the annual SCbio conference. Scheduled for February 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency Greenville, this year’s theme is “The Science of Success.” More information can be found here.

From Miami, FL:

  • In collaboration with the Miami International Airport (MIA) and Miami-Dade County government, the Miami-Dade Innovation Authority is seeking early-to-growth stage start-ups with innovative solutions that can improve the passenger experience at the airport. The focus for the second annual competition is on accessibility, navigation, and sustainability. In addition to the $100,000 investment in three companies, the MIA also provides a testbed for their products. Application deadline is January 19 at this link.
  • Innovative Eyewear makes “smart” ChatGPT-enabled sunglasses under the Lucyd, Nautica, Eddie Bauer, and Reebok brands. With its app for iOS and Android devices and the glasses, users have hands-free access to the generative artificial intelligence tool anywhere. According to an article in Miami Inno, the smart glasses contain built-in microphones and stereo speakers that can pick up voice requests. That allows users to take calls, activate Siri, and direct questions directly to the ChatGPT app on their smartphone without having to touch a device.

From St. Petersburg, FL:

Have you thought about having a $345,000 30-foot electric boat with a 221 kWh battery pack, 800 hp dual motor powertrain, and solar charging capability? Well, if that’s on your wish list, maybe for next Christmas, get in line early. Only about 10 will be made in 2024 by Blue Innovations Group whose Founder (John Vo) is a former Tesla executive.

From Charlotte, NC:

Noting that the Queen City “attracts really great humans who have ambitious visions for their careers and their lives here,” The 2.0 Collective will hold its second annual weeklong Collective Drive in late January. The event is designed to boost collaboration among professionals looking to advance their careers. It will begin on Sunday, January 21, and end on Thursday, January 25. The organizers write that “Collective Drive empowers professionals to carve out time for their ambitions outside of work. Whether it’s a project in or out of work, there’s a huge community of everyday professionals like you building something amazing, and it’s time we got together and share best practices.”

From Raleigh, NC:

If you’ve been procrastinating, the deadline to apply to pitch at Venture Connect 2024 is this Friday. The one-of-a-kind capital conference that brings together the tech and biotech communities under one roof is March 20 and 21. To apply, click here.

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