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New Approaches to State S&T: Georgia's Yamacraw Mission

January 14, 2000

One year ago this month, in the midst of a booming economy, Georgia Governor Roy Barnes announced a new $100 million, five-year initiative to advance the state’s position in the research and production of key components of the global economy. The Yamacraw Mission, named after one of the state’s first colonial settlements, focuses on research, education, and economic development in microchip design and high-bandwidth communications.

The Mission coordinates the activities of three usually disparate approaches -- a large state center of excellence, an education and training program, and an industrial inducement program -- under a single, unified technology-based economic development strategy and office. On a smaller scale, the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse, a $13.2 million initiative focusing on high definition video and systems-on-a-chip technology, represents another example of this new model for state science and technology policy (see the 7/23/99 issue of the SSTI Weekly Digest: http://www.ssti.org/Digest/1999/072399.htm)


Five Georgia institutions currently participate in the research program. Money is used for: establishing new advanced communications research facilities: hiring 85 additional professors to teach high-tech development courses at universities; and, adding more semiconductor designers to implement research results.  Already, 21 new faculty have been added to the member schools.

Seven Yamacraw research focus areas have been identified: systems-on-a-chip technology, embedded systems, optical networks, wireless, content processing, digital signal processing, and high speed access devices.


In addition to the technical experience students gain from the research component of Yamacraw, the Georgia Board of Regents has launched the Georgia Tech Regional Engineering Program (GTREP). Designed to increase the number of engineers in Southeast Georgia, GTREP allows students at three smaller state universities to enroll as Georgia Tech students without leaving their home campuses.

Economic Development

Along with the traditional inducement incentives states use to attract industry, semiconductor companies locating in Georgia will be given special access to the research, facilities, and personnel of the Yamacraw Mission schools. Companies also will have influence over the research agenda for the Mission.  To participate, businesses must commit $250,000 annually to Mission research or promise to employ at least 100 more engineers in Georgia by 2003.

Star*Core, a strategic alliance between Motorola and Lucent Technologies, was the Mission’s first member last May, and committed to creating 100 electronic design jobs by the end of 2000. According to an unconfirmed report in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the state is close to signing the second and third business members to join the Yamacraw Mission. National Semiconductor Corporation and Broadcom Corp., two international microchip design companies, currently each employ less than 50 people in Atlanta.


The budget for the Yamacraw Mission, to range between $14 -25 million per year, must be approved annually by the Georgia Legislature. According to Wall Street Journal reports, Cadence Design Systems, a San Jose California software-design firm, received $3 million from the state of Georgia for development of the overall Yamacraw Mission. Cadence has a similar relationship with the state of Pennsylvania for the Digital Greenhouse.

More information on the Yamacraw Mission will be forthcoming on its own website: http://www.yamacraw.org. Until then, information may be found at: http://www.gcatt.gatech.edu/yamacraw/index.html