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Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Listening Tour in Atlanta

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Friday, August 23, 2013

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today visited Atlanta, Georgia as part of her nationwide listening tour.

Secretary Pritzker began her day with a roundtable discussion hosted by Invest Atlanta, an economic development agency dedicated to attracting and sustaining investment in the city. She heard from leaders about the importance of public-private partnerships, including the need for federal dollars to support infrastructure development. Several participants discussed the opportunities in urban agriculture, the need for which is increasing as more people move into cities both here and abroad. In addition, many companies discussed the important role of intellectual property protection in a wide range of industries, which is especially important as they expand overseas.

Following the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker visited the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), an independent, non-profit organization that works with universities, research centers, clinicians, device companies, investors, and others to help accelerate the commercialization of new medical technology. GCMI houses facilities that local entrepreneurs can use to design, engineer, and build their products, and provides access to a growing network of experts that can help bring ideas to market. In 2010, GCMI was one of six winners of the Department of Commerce’s i6 Challenge, a grant competition designed to support the nation’s best ideas for technology commercialization and entrepreneurship, create jobs, and support economic growth.

GCMI opened its doors in 2010, and since then has built the infrastructure that has allowed medical device companies to turn their ideas into viable products, including design, engineering, and prototyping using a 3D printer and full machine shop, as well as clean rooms and assembly space. One company, Matrix Surgical USA, is using GCMI's clean room to manufacture a porous form of High-Density Polyethylene implants used for craniofacial reconstructive surgery.

Secretary Pritzker saw GCMI’s design lab, and learned about the center’s apprenticeship program, which gives students in the biomedical engineering field exposure to what it takes to bring a medical device from the lab to the clinic. She also heard about the center’s rapid prototype machine, which is a 3D printer that allows an individual to make a prototype of a device right at the GCMI facility in a matter of hours. Typically, prototypes have to be manufactured offsite, which can take days or weeks.

Secretary Pritzker then participated in a roundtable discussion with manufacturing and shipping company business leaders hosted by UPS to hear firsthand what opportunities and challenges are facing the Atlanta business community.

As part of her ongoing efforts to connect with Commerce employees around the country, Secretary Pritzker also visited the U.S. Census Bureau’s Atlanta Regional Office, where she met with staff.