Business & Economy Campus News

Innovation District moves forward with new events

Crystal Leach and Ian Biggs are both members of UGA’s Innovation District launch team.

UGA’s Innovation District initiative is moving full steam ahead. Several programs and event series are planned on campus this fall, all aimed at fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and collaboration among faculty, students and local entrepreneurs.

The UGA Innovation District Seminar Series will kick off with the first of three seminars on Oct. 2, followed by additional seminars on Nov. 6 and Dec. 4.

The first seminar, “Innovation District Partner Showcase,” will feature leaders from various entities involved in the Innovation District initiative, including the Office of the President, Innovation Gateway, Student Entrepreneurship Program, New Media Institute, Small Business Development Center, Athensmade and other partners. For more information about the series and to register for the first seminar, visit

Ian Biggs, who directs the startup program in Innovation Gateway and serves as a member of UGA’s Innovation District launch team, is leading the planning and implementation for the fall event schedule.

“With this fall lineup, we hope to bring together faculty and students, as well as our partners in the Athens community, to learn more about the innovation ecosystem evolving at UGA and how it can impact both their entrepreneurial goals and the broader economic development landscape,” said Biggs. “We are very excited to get started on Oct. 2.”

The inaugural Innovation Bootcamp will commence on Oct. 15 with a session designed specifically to address the unique challenges faced by female faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Over the course of six weeks, attendees will meet weekly to learn firsthand about the basics of commercialization and targeted skill building, as well as receive one-on-one support from experienced mentors.

“As the Innovation District moves forward and the entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to thrive at UGA, we want to make sure that our programs are reaching all who call this university home,” said Crystal Leach, director of industry collaborations and a member of UGA’s Innovation District launch team. “Our goal is to equip each attendee with the key skills needed for success in an innovative, entrepreneurial environment. We look forward to offering sessions in the future tailored to the needs of other specific cohorts.”

Applications for the Innovation Bootcamp are due by Sept. 27 and are available at

Biggs and his team also will host the I-Corps VII fall showcase on Oct. 21. UGA I-Corps is a National Science Foundation-funded program that provides UGA teams with the training and funds needed to understand the value of a customer-centric approach to commercializing new technologies. Each team includes UGA faculty and students, as well as community members.

Thirteen teams, including three from the College of Veterinary Medicine and one community-led team, will present their problem, solution and customer interview outcomes as part of the showcase, making this the largest cohort group to date. For more information about the showcase, visit

Serving as UGA’s first Startup Mentor in Residence this fall, serial entrepreneur and former Chick-fil-A executive David Salyers will present “START UP … your future!!!” on Oct. 24 as part of the fall 2019 Signature Lecture series.

Salyers, who is involved in nine startups and was instrumental in the growth and development of the iconic “cow campaign” for Chick-fil-A, will present his commercialization and innovation expertise as part of this campus-wide lecture. For more information about Salyers’ lecture, visit

“At the heart of the Innovation District initiative will be robust programming that brings people together—that fosters a community where innovation and entrepreneurship are encouraged and supported,” said Kyle Tschepikow, special assistant to the president and director for strategy and innovation.  “And that is the overarching goal for each and every one of these exciting events.”

All events are open to the public and will be held at the Jackson Street Building. For more information about the Innovation District, visit