Centers of Innovation have a new leader — Mark Lytle

By Maria Saporta

Mark Lytle has been selected to become division director of the Georgia Centers of Innovation — an effort that seeks to accelerate the growth of six of the state’s strategic industries: aerospace, agribusiness, energy, life sciences, logistics and advanced manufacturing.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development, which is overseeing the Centers of Innovation along with the Georgia Research Alliance, selected Lytle, who has been with the department since 2002.

Most recently, Lytle was director of the department’s foreign direct investment team. In his new role, Lytle will provide strategic oversight and general management of the Centers of Innovation.

Mark Lytle

Before joining the department, Mr. Lytle was president and COO of Williams Power Corp., a nationwide industrial construction company, and senior vice president of Business Development at Law Engineering (now MACTEC), a global engineering company. He holds an architectural degree from Georgia Tech.

“Mark Lytle is absolutely the right person to lead the Centers of Innovation,” said Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “His broad diversity of experience in economic development and the private business sector gives him a unique perspective on the value the Centers of Innovation program can bring to companies and on its role in growing Georgia’s economy.”

The Centers of Innovation were launched in 2003 as a way to connect high growth-potential companies with university research and industry expertise to stimulate long-term job growth and increased statewide investment. A common goal of the centers is to help commercialize new products, services and business models in these industries.

In July 2011, the Centers of Innovation were integrated with the programs of the Georgia Research Alliance, which is now a sister agency of the Department of Economic Development. Lytle succeeds Sidney Elliott, GRA’s director of strategic planning and program evaluation for the GRA, who served as interim director of the Centers of Innovation prior to his retirement at the end of 2011.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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