University of Georgia

UGA-tied efforts take home 4 Georgia Bio awards

four representatives from UGA pose for a photo
Left to right, Christy Anderson, Ian Biggs, Kyle Tschepikow and Derek Eberhart accepted awards for UGA at Georgia Bio’s 2022 Golden Helix awards dinner, held May 5 in Atlanta. (Contributed photo)

Four University of Georgia-affiliated individuals, companies and programs were recognized with awards from Georgia Bio at its 2022 annual Golden Helix awards dinner, held May 5 at Factory Atlanta in Chamblee, Georgia.

Georgia Bio is a nonprofit, membership-based organization that works with businesses, government groups, universities and research institutions to improve access to innovative technologies and grow Georgia’s life sciences economy. Together, their efforts create strategic partnerships with leaders in biopharmaceuticals, biotechnology, digital health, agriculture and medical devices.

This year, Georgia Bio recognized the accomplishments of several individuals and groups associated with UGA.

The UGA Innovation District and the Delta Air Lines Foundation were honored as Phoenix Award recipients, celebrating the best industry/academic collaborations.

Kyle Tschepikow, executive director of business engagement at UGA, stands with Tad Hutcheson, vice president of community and public affairs at Delta Air Lines, with their Phoenix Award for the best industry/academic collaboration. (Contributed photo)

In 2021, the Delta Air Lines Foundation and UGA partnered in an effort to support innovation and entrepreneurship. As a part of the partnership, they renovated space on campus to create a hub for startup businesses. UGA dedicated this space as the Delta Innovation Hub after a $5 million commitment from Delta to provide capital support for the Hub as well as funding for the Student Industry Fellows Program and the College of Engineering’s Student Success Center. UGA has been in the Top 5 among U.S. universities for new products reaching the market for eight years running.

“The support from the Delta Air Lines Foundation for the University of Georgia Innovation District is a stellar example of how public-private partnerships support the continued growth and success of solving problems locally and internationally, starting right here in Georgia,” said David Hartnett, Metro Atlanta Chamber’s chief economic development officer and Georgia Bio board member.

“This partnership continues to build upon Georgia’s rich history of collaboration to grow the life science ecosystem, create jobs and strengthen Georgia’s recognition as the center of global health.”

Taking home Georgia Bio Community Awards were Ian Biggs, director of the Innovation Gateway Startup Program, and the UGA Marine Extension & Georgia Sea Grant program.

Biggs leads all activity related to faculty research-driven startups for Innovation Gateway. The program supports researchers and entrepreneurs seeking to establish companies to develop new products and services based on UGA research discoveries. More than 100 startup projects based on UGA research are in the program’s pipeline, which has expanded significantly under Biggs’ leadership. The economic impact of job creation through the startup program is estimated at $322 million annually in the state of Georgia and $531 million annually across the United States.

The UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant provides research, education, training and science-based outreach for Georgia’s coastal and marine environments. Supported by a mixture of funding from the state and federal government, the program maintains facilities in Brunswick, Savannah and Athens while generating roughly $112 million in economic impact on the state annually.

“We are honored to be recognized for our work to support coastal communities and protect Georgia’s valuable coastal resources,” said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “This award signifies the importance of bringing together academic and extension resources at a land- and sea-grant institution to make our communities resilient and sustainable.”

Deal of the Year Awards recognize transactions made by life sciences companies that contribute to the development of the state’s life sciences industry.

Danimer Scientific, a biotechnology company with an R&D lab focused on creating sustainable plastic products in UGA’s Innovation Gateway incubator, was recognized with a Deal of the Year Award for its $700 million dollar expansion of a 2,000,000-square-foot facility in Bainbridge, Georgia. The expansion will nearly quadruple their workforce in the area and allow it to produce more renewable and sustainable biopolymers for plastic products.

“Research into the life sciences is absolutely one of UGA’s strategic strengths, encompassing the work of many faculty and student researchers across multiple academic and research units of the university, and it’s a tremendous honor to receive these awards from Georgia Bio,” said Karen Burg, vice president for research. “These awards speak to the commitment to innovation demonstrated by so many of our faculty, students and staff, and I’m incredibly proud of their accomplishments.”