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Georgia Universities, Tech Colleges Partner for Emerging Tech Jobs

A partnership between Georgia's university system, its technical college system and Rowen, a life-sciences campus in Gwinnett County, will generate projects and programs focused on emerging technologies and industries.

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(TNS) — One of Georgia’s largest economic development projects is partnering with several state universities and technical colleges to find answers to some of today’s largest workforce questions.

Rowen, a 2,000-acre life sciences campus in Gwinnett County near Dacula, recently signed “living laboratory” agreements with the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia. The partnerships will result in multiple projects and programs focused on emerging technologies and industries that are poised to employ thousands of Georgians in the coming years.

The announcement was short on specifics, but Rowen Foundation President Mason Ailstock said the “living labs” will allow higher education institutions and students to visit and learn on the Rowen site while its infrastructure is being built-out. He said it will result in new training courses and technology amenities targeting a variety of growing industries.

“Our living lab platform is really designed to be industry agnostic,” he said. “We can engage in life science, we can engage in ag tech (agriculture technology) and we can engage in a whole variety of sectors.”

Modeled after North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Rowen aims to provide a development that connects employers with students from Georgia’s largest universities. The project site is equidistant from Atlanta, Athens and Gainesville along Ga. 316.

Rowen broke ground last year on its site, starting $32 million worth of road and infrastructure projects that are scheduled to be complete by the end of the year. The infrastructure will connect to several corporate pad sites that are currently being marketed to prospective companies across the life sciences and technology industries.

Ailstock said he’s currently in discussions with 10 companies potentially interested in joining Rowen, which will also include a central village with apartments, restaurants, parks and retail.

“We are open for business,” he said. “We’ll have the roads in place, and we’re excited to get our first few tenants in.”

Ailstock described the living labs as a framework connecting higher education institutions and Georgia companies looking to train their future workforces. Two programs are already underway, both of which focus on e-mobility and emerging technologies.

The first involves the University of Georgia, Georgia Gwinnett College and Gwinnett Technical College, which aims to create academic programs for the electric mobility and energy industries. Georgia has emerged as a leader in the electric vehicle and battery manufacturing ecosystem, landing multi-billion dollar production plants and supplier networks.

The second involves UGA’s Georgia Network for Electric Mobility, which will focus on technology innovation and experimentation. Some potential topics include autonomous vehicles, in-road charging and smart city technologies.

‘We are pleased to support Rowen, our students, the state of Georgia and our partners in higher education by serving as the contracting institution for these projects,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at UGA and a Rowen board member.

The living labs initiative was made possible by an Innovation Engine Grant from the National Science Foundation. Ailstock said other programs are expected to follow.

“We’re talking to several other institutions about getting additional living labs projects started,” he said.

©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.