Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker visited the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) in Atlanta, Ga. GCMI is an independent, non-profit organization that works with universities, research centers, and investors to help accelerate the commercialization of innovative medical technology.
GCMI, which opened in 2010, houses facilities that local entrepreneurs can use to design, engineer, and build their products, and provides access to a growing network of experts that can help bring cutting edge ideas to market. The secretary toured the facility with GCMI executives and CEOs from two of the four startup businesses that reside at GCMI.
During her tour, Secretary Pritzker learned about some of the daily on-site activities at GCMI, including medical device design engineering and prototyping, and explored the organization’s design lab. She also learned about the center’s rapid prototype machine, which is a 3D printer that enables innovators, and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas from concept to reality in a matter of hours. Typically, prototypes take days or weeks to manufacture. GCMI is able to support a relationship between Georgia Tech and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to develop and commercialize new medical devices for the pediatric market. They are also helping an Atlanta-based entrepreneur and an inventor from Georgia Tech develop a functional prototype to help quadriplegics GAIN greater mobility.
Secretary Pritzker also met with some of the students who are part of GCMI’s apprentice program. This program provides opportunities to students and recent graduates from leading engineering and medical schools around the country who participate in a range of development activities that help bring new medical technology from the lab to the clinic.
One of the Commerce Department’s key priorities is supporting innovation and helping entrepreneurs get their products to market. As part of those efforts, Commerce’s Economic Development Agency (EDA) gave GCMI a $1.3 million grant in 2010 that was critical to the organization’s creation, which was matched by funds from the Georgia Research Alliance, a public-private organization that supports development of the technology industry in Georgia.
The same year, EDA awarded GCMI a $1 million grant as part of the multi-agency i6 Challenge , which helped GCMI – one of only six grant recipients – grow to where it is today. The i6 Challenge was launched to support proof-of-concept centers and encourage and reward innovative, groundbreaking ideas that accelerate technology commercialization, new venture formation, job creation, and economic growth across the Unites States.
Incubators like GCMI are a key part of the ecosystem for supporting business start-ups and job growth. They are also fostering public-private partnerships that help develop a skilled and innovative workforce, which plays a crucial part in America’s competitiveness in the 21st century.