Tearing down workforce development silos and supporting next-level collaboration for job growth

Tiffany Wilson, CEO of GCMI and T3 Labs
Tiffany Wilson, CEO of GCMI and T3 Labs

We have long maintained that the robust elements of Atlanta’s medtech ecosystem are ripe to support new, high-value job creation in Atlanta and throughout the southeastern United States. Through this lens of job creation through innovation, I was honored to be appointed for a second term on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) last month.

Last month, we had the opportunity to tour workforce development, innovation and entrepreneurship resources and activities in Chicago, which took place September 15th and 16th. Here is a quick snapshot of what we learned.

Tools to tear down workforce development obstacles
Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (Skills) is a nonprofit, public-private partnership committed to returning unemployed and underemployed job seekers to work by creating demand-driven solutions for employers committed to hiring this population. Skills meets the hiring needs of employers by connecting them with qualified job seekers and providing innovative, customized hiring solutions. Skills is governed by a board of directors comprised of 20 chief executive, finance, and human resources officers from the Chicago area. The organization is funded by the City of Chicago and The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, as well as a wide range of foundations and corporations.

The NACIE team learned from “Skills’” leadership about the requirements and practical implementation actions capable of putting thousands of citizens back to work. It was inspiring to see how their community comes together to help train people who need and want to go to work. Public Private Partnerships are going to be needed to realize our industry’s regional collective capabilities to create high value job growth in Georgia and the southeast.

We stand ready to support such initiatives and look forward to the possibility of adopting many of the effective strategies and tactics being successfully implemented by Skills for Chicagoland’s Future to put more Georgians back to work.

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation: GCMI and T3 Labs’ next big collaboration opportunity?
It is becoming more apparent that competing with medtech innovation stalwart communities like Boston, Minneapolis and San Diego is going to take a substantial ecosystem built through collaboration with communities throughout the southeast and beyond.

The NACIE team toured the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The Center “drives venture creation and technology commercialization within the University of Chicago and the surrounding community. Through education, partnerships, and new venture support, the Polsky Center advances the knowledge and practice of entrepreneurship and accelerates the commercialization of research.”

We love the collaborative agreement between Abbvie and the University of Chicago announced in April 2016, which is “designed to improve the pace of discovery and advance medical research in oncology at both organizations,” according to the University. “As part of the agreement, AbbVie will provide funding for the collaboration that may be used for purposes including preclinical research, clinical trials and possible future programs at the University resulting from this partnership. The overall collaborative efforts will provide UChicago physicians and scientists with the opportunity to participate in AbbVie-sponsored clinical trials, access to new therapies developed by AbbVie for use in preclinical research funded under the collaboration, as well as opportunities to work closely with AbbVie’s research and development teams to promote scientific knowledge exchange.”

Because of the introductions and connections made in Chicago, we discussed the potential for medtech innovators within the Polsky Center’s footprint to access the tools and knowledge of GCMI and T3 Labs to help streamline their process from concept to cure to commercialization. An Atlanta – Chicago medtech connection could present a powerful opportunity for two of the nation’s largest economic engines to break down regional and industrial silos that prevent us from realizing the full capabilities of our innovation ecosystems.

What it means
“The National Advisory Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (NACIE) is charged with identifying and recommending solutions to issues critical to driving the innovation economy, including enabling entrepreneurs and firms to successfully access and develop a skilled, globally competitive workforce.”
CDC Foundation President & CEO Dr. Judy Monroe said at Health Connect South 2016 last week, “Working together we can do so much more than we can working alone.”
We could not agree more. Medtech innovation requires a multidisciplinary approach and access to a community of experts in order to bring new medical devices and products to life that are capable of changing lives around the globe for the better: and not just for the patients, but also for the lives and economic opportunities for the citizens employed by the entrepreneurs and companies that create them.

2016-2018 NACIE members gather on the Navy Steps at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building just prior to their first meeting on October 6, 2016.
2016-2018 NACIE members gather on the Navy Steps at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building just prior to their first meeting on October 6, 2016.

Contact us to learn more about the substantial medtech innovation resources available through GCMI, T3 Labs, our affiliate Georgia Tech, Emory University and more.