UGA dedicates Delta Innovation Hub

This story was originally posted to UGA Today on Dec. 8, 2021.

The University of Georgia dedicated the Delta Innovation Hub in a ceremony held on Tuesday, Dec. 7, recognizing The Delta Air Lines Foundation’s support for innovation and entrepreneurship at UGA.

“Delta is an indispensable partner of the University of Georgia, and once again they have proven their commitment to supporting initiatives that elevate our university,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Because of The Delta Air Lines Foundation’s vital support, our faculty, students, alumni and members of our local community now have access to resources and programs to translate their ideas into solutions that improve our state, nation and world.”

Renovation of the space, which had been used for a variety of purposes since the university acquired the building in the 1960s, was catalyzed by a major gift from The Delta Air Lines Foundation in January 2020. The Foundation committed $5 million to provide capital support for the Hub as well as funding for the Student Industry Fellows Program and the College of Engineering’s Student Success Center.

“Innovation has always been central to Delta’s success, and we share that dedication with our partners at UGA, whose outstanding alumni and exceptional work have long benefitted our communities,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “This exciting new area on campus is helping to power that spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship into the future, and it’s an honor to collaborate with UGA on this important work.”

The Delta Innovation Hub opened its doors in January and hosts numerous innovation and entrepreneurship programs such as the Faculty Innovation Fellows Program, Startup Mentor Program, Innovation Bootcamp, and UGA’s National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program. The Student Industry Fellows Program is also facilitated in the Delta Innovation Hub, and the building is home to alumni- and faculty-owned startups in biotechnology, marketing, health care, and accounting.

“The Delta Innovation Hub has already invigorated the innovation ecosystem at UGA considerably, and it’s exciting to think about how much more we can do because of this facility,” said Ian Biggs, director of startups and programming at the UGA Innovation Gateway. “As we continue to grow and help even more students, faculty and alumni find success, we will have Delta to thank for helping to build the launch pad for that success.”

Other companies and individuals have also provided integral early support for the Delta Innovation Hub. Rick Pennell, president and CEO of Metromont Corp., established an endowment to enhance the Faculty Innovation Fellows Program, and Georgia Power was an early supporter of the Startup Mentor Program.

The Delta Innovation Hub is the latest result of UGA and Delta’s long-standing partnership. In 2015, The Delta Air Lines Foundation committed $5 million to the construction of the UGA Washington Semester Program’s residential facility, Delta Hall. The Willson Center for Humanities and Arts established the Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding thanks to a gift in 1997. In recognition of The Delta Air Lines Foundation’s many gifts and the long-standing relationship between the university and Delta, the airline received the 2018 Friend of UGA Award from the UGA Alumni Association.