Faces of Research: Meet David Bridges

David Bridges Graphic

The Enterprise Innovation Institute is Georgia Tech’s chief economic development arm. With more than a dozen programs, it serves all of Georgia and beyond through a variety of services and offerings that build and scale startups, grow business enterprises, and energize ecosystem builders.

This installment of the Faces of Research Series Q&A series is with David Bridges, Vice President of the Enterprise Innovation Institute.

What is your field of expertise and why did you choose it?
In 2012, I was fortunate to be invited to work in Puerto Rico to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. For the next eight years, I helped to build a startup ecosystem for the island which has led to the amazing Puerto Rico, Entrepreneurial Island movement. Along with my colleagues, I created a lean startup ecosystem building model which is unique to Georgia Tech. Elements of this model is being implemented in numerous countries around the world. A spin-off from this practice has been the Innovation and Technology Commercialization Professional education program that has been taught to more than 1,000 professional learners in 13 countries. It was the first Georgia Tech professional education program taught in a foreign language.

What makes the Enterprise Innovation Institute's approach to economic development unique?
The Enterprise Innovation Institute, a division of Georgia Tech, is the only university-based, socio-economic capacity development organization of its kind in the nation that provides over 60 years of experience in building and scaling startups, growing businesses, and energizing ecosystem builders to support people in Georgia and beyond in creating equitable and sustainable jobs, companies, business growth, and quality of life for all.

What couldn't have happened without the Enterprise Innovation Institute?
We are the embodiment of Georgia Tech’s founding mission: to help diversify Georgia’s economy, which, at the time of the founding, was largely agriculture. While agriculture remains an important part of the Georgia economy, we have a vibrant tapestry of industries that call our state home. That’s reflected in what we do best at the Enterprise Innovation Institute — serving as the nexus and connection point for collaboration, applied research, and innovation. One of the things I am most proud of with our team is our wholistic commitment to economic development. It's not just the dollars and cents of investment, but really working together across our programs, across campus, and with external partners, to advance the human condition at the individual and community levels. That’s the critical difference with the Enterprise Innovation Institute's research and innovation-based approach to socio-economic development. At the heart of the companies, communities, and organizations we serve is people.

What impact is Georgia Tech's research having on the clients with whom you work?
Year in and year out, the Enterprise Innovation Institute is an economic engine for the state of Georgia. Its impact reaches communities in Georgia and around the world. In Georgia alone, our organization annually helps to create or save over 10,000 jobs, attract well over $500 million in investment, and reach every county in the state. In addition, our organization teaches academic courses, delivers 190+ professional education courses, and offers opportunities for over 50 students a year.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not working at the Enterprise Innovation Institute?
I began cycling again in 2014 with my son who was a junior racer. We followed him all over the southeast as he raced in criteriums and road races. He and I rode together in the Bike Ride Across Georgia and the Five-Boro rides in New York City. It is a passion for me that is filled with many wonderful memories.

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