Rama Amara, Kathryn Folkner and Suefen Kwa work on the LSRII Flow Cytometer that counts the number of immune cells in a sample and determines which ones can kill the virus at the Emory Vaccine Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Decatur. The center has recently received a federal grant to work on a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. For all the brainpower at Emory and Georgia Tech, Atlanta doesn’t function at the level of San Jose or Boston when it comes to being a technology hub.
In Norcross, a 3-year-old company runs three production lines 24 hours a day,
cranking out the future of Atlanta.
The company, known as Suniva, employs 200 people making solar cells. It was
born largely in the mind of a Georgia Tech scientist who is seeking the holy
grail of solar power: high-efficiency cells made at low cost. And it is an
example of the sort of business that will be essential to the success of
American cities in the future: high-tech manufacturing that feeds a growing
Suniva followed a path – from brain to market – blazed by such schools as the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose researchers create hundreds of
companies a year, and Stanford University, whose imprint on Silicon Valley
is clear. Can Georgia Tech and Emory University do what MIT and Stanford
The short answer is, yes, Atlanta can play in the same league as Boston and
But it doesn’t. At least not yet.
“You look at the actual social structure of this city and see that we have a
huge amount of fragmentation: Companies and industries are just not
connected to each other,” says Dan Breznitz, a Georgia Tech professor who
studies innovation and economic development.
Throughout this week, the AJC publishes an eight-part series on metro
Atlanta's 2012 turning point. Get the in-depth story on how our region ranks
with nine of its metro competitors around the country. Find out who’s in the
lead (it isn’t us) and why. It’s a story you’ll get only by picking up a
copy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s
iPad app. Subscribe