GTRI receives innovation award

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) was recently the recipient of an award from Bennett Aerospace. The hour and a half wine and cheese awards ceremony was on Apr. 14 at the Alumni House and featured guests such as President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, Tom McDermott, the GTRI Deputy Director Research and numerous other professors from Tech.

Also in attendance were several representatives from Bennett Aerospace, most prominently Douglas Bennett, Bennett Aerospace CEO and a former Tech grad. Staff members of the company and staffers of Ga. Senators Isakson and Chambliss attended as well.

“Basically we wanted to honor GTRI and express our gratitude to them and show how much we value GTRI as a subcontractor and as a partner,” said Heidi Collins, a Senior Project Manager with Bennett Aerospace who attended the award ceremony.

The award came as a result of GTRI’s partnership with Bennett Aerospace, an advanced research company. Their partnership is a part of Small Business Innovation Research (SPIR), a government research project involved in military and civilian projects designed to spur on small business development within the US.

Their partnership also puts Tech in good company. Bennett Aerospace’s other partners include schools like Eastern Carolina University, Notre Dame, N.C. State, Princeton, Virginia and Purdue and corporations such as BAE Systems, iRobot, Applied Research Associates and Orbital Sciences Corporation, among others.

However, it was Tech’s win ratio and the scope of its projects that led to its award; Tech and GTRI won three out of the four proposals they had partnered on with Benett in 2009.

“Last year we won three out of four [proposals]. That’s extraordinary, normally the industry market win is 10 to 15 percent, and when we partnered with GTRI we came out with 75 percent,” Collins said. “We presented GTRI with the Corporate Partner of the Year [Award] for 2009 and they went up against a number of heavy hitters because we partner with a number of large corporations.”

Fruits of the partnership have also resulted in expanded market potential. Estimates place the value to be $80-$100 million for work with the navy and $300-$700 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and are expected to greatly benefit the continued growth of jobs in small businesses across the country.

“We had two large efforts for last year that are opening up hundreds of millions of dollars hopefully of incoming revenue. One is with NOAA and it’s a LIDAR [Light Detection and ranging] project and it has the potential to revolutionize the way we gather weather data and it has a market potential of hundreds of millions of dollars… and the other one is a Navy Phased Array Radar Project,” Collins said.

Work will continue from the previous year as GTRI and Bennett will both look to progress with more opportunities in the impending year.

“I’d like to thank GTRI for helping to support Bennett Aerospace’s exponential growth. GTRI helped make 2009 a very successful year, and we are looking forward to partnering on more opportunities during 2010,” Bennett said.