Stephen Fleming, the general manager of Georgia Tech’s lauded Advanced Technology Development Center, is leaving that post and his role as vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute.
Fleming, a Georgia Tech alumnus, venture capitalist and veteran of AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, has served as one of Georgia Tech’s top liaisons to business and as a mentor to startups. His role at EI2, as it is known, is to help companies become more competitive and advance innovation and technology.
In a blog post announcing his departure, Fleming said a national search for his replacement is pending. He wrote that he will remain a loyal alumnus and donor to the Institute.
“This place is very important to me, and the relationships I’ve built over the last eleven years have been some of the best of my life. That won’t change.”
His departure, which will come at the end of the year, was announced as numerous companies have announced plans or opened new operations near Georgia Tech’s campus.
Companies including NCR and Worldpay US have announced headquarters relocations near campus, and others like AT&T and Southern Company have announced new innovation labs near Georgia Tech’s Technology Square campus.
“We are grateful for Stephen’s seven years of service in this capacity and his support to EI2, Georgia Tech and Georgia,” Steve Cross, Tech’s executive vice president for research, said in a statement. “EI2 has experienced remarkable success across all of its programs in recent years under Stephen’s leadership. Georgia Tech is grateful to him for his extraordinary contributions and we all wish him continued success in his next endeavors.”
On his blog, Fleming wrote:
“The Executive Leadership Team believes that it is time to recruit new leadership that is better suited to the next phase of EI2′s growth. Georgia Tech will be launching a national search for a new executive who will help the ELT implement the goals of the Georgia Tech strategic plan. …
… “EI2 and ATDC have plenty of talented and skilled senior managers. A transition plan will be announced shortly, and I have no doubt that this great team will continue to perform brilliantly through an interim period. The Tech Square innovation neighborhood will continue to be a national model of economic development, and EI2′s and ATDC’s programs will continue to be at the center of that. I look forward to celebrating their continued success.
“On a personal note, although I will no longer be working here, I remain a loyal Georgia Tech alumnus and donor. This place is very important to me, and the relationships I’ve built over the last eleven years have been some of the best of my life. That won’t change.”
In a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution story, Fleming talked about the role of EI2 and ATDC in Tech’s growing influence on Midtown and in Atlanta business. The story looked at Georgia Tech’s leap over the Downtown Connector and how Technology Square is paying off.
It took time for another key part of the plan — attracting innovation labs from major companies — to show success. The idea was that the labs would both work with companies on technology generated out of the university and also help recruit research dollars and create jobs, said Stephen Fleming, who heads economic development efforts at Tech and serves as both director of ATDC and executive director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute.
Recruiting the labs started out slower than expected amid the Great Recession, (Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud”) Peterson said.
Then companies such as elevator maker ThyssenKrupp and Panasonic’s automotive division took root. Demand finally took off in 2013, when AT&T started its Foundry wireless communications innovation center.
This year, companies such as Home Depot and Southern Company joined.
Now, the innovation labs of the major companies not only collaborate with startups, Fleming said, but they interact with one another.
“We act as a convener,” Fleming said, describing the university as “neutral ground, and it’s OK for competitors to be cooperative.”