Innovation is many things. It is the invention of a new product, a change in the way a service is delivered, incremental improvements to existing technologies, a new solution to an old problem or something completely new. Innovation is about ambition.
At the University of Georgia, innovation is an investment in learning. Innovation in this arena is about enabling the entrepreneurial spirit. Research and higher education develop the ideas, people and the innovations that power the nation's economy, create jobs, improve health and strengthen our national security, ensuring that the U.S. maintains its role as global leader.
Innovation describes the processes and products borne out of the minds of the faculty, staff and students, the systems in place to keep campuses clean and efficient and the opportunities available for students.
"I consider myself a pretty seasoned entrepreneur," said Kristina Jaskyte Bahr, associate professor of innovation and nonprofit management in the School of Social Work. "Not the kind that develops successful businesses, but the kind that comes up with ideas for research projects, teaching improvements and service-learning projects. I love to experiment and to take risks with my ideas, and I can do all this at a place that provides an environment and support for my individual creativity and innovation. I cannot think of a more perfect place for entrepreneurs like myself than a university."
Following are some examples of innovation taking place on the UGA campus with links to find out more about each. More feature stories about UGA innovation can be found on the Discover UGA website at discover.uga.edu.
■ Research produces new peanut varieties that can withstand threats to production yields, teaching tools that connect with today's students, medicines that treat common diseases or processes that help reach an earlier diagnosis. The Technology Commercialization Office serves the UGA community by connecting industry with university expertise and inventions for the public good, promoting economic development and increasing research visibility. More information at www.ovpr.uga.edu/tco/
■ The Georgia BioBusiness Center works with indigenous and recruited startup bioscience companies with research and technology ties with the university. It enables accelerated growth through access to space, equipment and support services, and encourages the commercialization of discoveries by university faculty and staff. More information at www.ovpr.uga.edu/gbbc/
■ UGA connects with communities. The Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center assists companies in developing new food products efficiently and economically. The center facilitates commercialization of food products by providing intellectual resources and physical facilities for both startup ventures and existing food companies. The annual Flavor of Georgia food product contest showcases delicious, original market-ready prototypes or commercially available food products from Georgia residents. Products are thrust into the spotlight and winners are pitched to food brokers. More information at www.caes.uga.edu/center/foodpic/ and www.flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu/
■ Through the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, UGA helps communities, organizations and individuals plan for the future, develop and strengthen their capacity, resolve conflicts and build the necessary skills to achieve their goals. More information at http://www.fanning.uga.edu/
■ The Georgia Small Business Development Center works to enhance the economic well-being of Georgians by providing a wide range of educational services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. More information at www.georgiasbdc.org/
■ Students with big ideas learn how to turn them into reality through the Terry College of Business Accelerator Program. The Accelerator Program provides student startups with a board of experienced, successful entrepreneurs, advisers and investors that help student entrepreneurs grow revenues and profits, stay focused on the right strategic issue and develop key contacts. Participants receive honest, unfiltered advice and feedback, help with critical business decisions and lasting results for the business. Students are held accountable to key performance indicators and receive real-world experiences from seasoned mentors and investors. More information at www.terry.uga.edu/academics/entrepreneurship
■ The College of Education Interdisciplinary Certificate in Creativity and Innovation offers graduate students opportunities for knowledge across diverse disciplines in creativity and innovation. The program stimulates the ability of students and faculty to synthesize and apply this knowledge in their diverse fields. More information at www.coe.uga.edu/icci/
■ The UGA Marine Extension Service and Sea Grant work to increase efficiencies of existing marine industries, identify new opportunities and increase public awareness. These coordinated programs develop tools and techniques that support sustainable economic and population growth on the coast and the efficient use of coastal resources. More information at http://marex.uga.edu/ and http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu/.
■ The New Media Institute in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is dedicated to exploring the critical, commercial and creative dimensions of innovative digital media. Students develop applications and programs designed to transform how people assemble and acquire information. More information at mynmi.net/