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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

University Of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc.


Athens, GA

Project Name

New Materials Innovation Center



Award Amount


The New Materials Innovation Center (NMIC) at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, will fulfill the local and regional need for a scale-up testing facility for new materials being developed by local entrepreneurs, startups, and researchers. The NMIC will house equipment and facilities focused on the design and testing of new materials, new plastic applications, and new coating technologies. By serving as a “one-stop shop” for materials development and testing, the NMIC will help move products toward commercial marketability more quickly while also strengthening connections between local nonprofits, entrepreneurs, academia, and government. The NMIC anticipates high demand from UGA, as well as local entrepreneurs and businesses, for its facilities, equipment, and services. UGA’s Innovation Gateway and Idea Accelerator will provide support to NMIC patrons through their Lean Startup-based curriculum. Centered on a customer discovery process, this program will help patrons learn about marketing and the legal and financial realities of their proposed businesses.

Athens-Clarke County (ACC) and UGA collaborate constantly with targeted state-level recruitment teams, the Innovation Corridor Joint Development Authority, the Innovation Crescent, and the Joint Development Authority of Northeast Georgia to bring more industry to the Northeast Georgia region. The Athens-Clarke County (ACC) metropolitan area has a rich manufacturing history and a strong industrial base, and boasts a diverse business mix including both Fortune 500 companies and local entrepreneurial startups. ACC offers a variety of state and local incentives to target both new and expanding businesses in the area. These incentives, along with low taxes, a low cost of living, and the additional purchasing power and employment base of more than 34,000 college students, make the county an attractive choice to businesses seeking the ideal location for their operations. Despite these assets, ACC meets the EDA criteria for a distressed county experiencing high poverty and unemployment among many of its communities. The NMIC will address these issues by helping to diversify the local economy, form startups, and attract additional industries to the area.