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Economic Development

Nov. 22 - Savannah Economic Development Authority announces partnership with Savannah College of Art and Design

Category: Economic Development

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

November 22, 2017 - The Savannah Economic Development Authority and the Savannah College of Art and Design recently announced a groundbreaking partnership designed to help SCAD alumni develop commercially viable digital products and advance Savannah’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.   

Called SCAD+, this groundbreaking program will support talented SCAD alumni, many having been recognized nationally and internationally with professional association awards, to bring their commercial concepts to reality in Savannah. The projects will focus on gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and mobile experiences.

SCAD and SEDA will jointly fund the program and will receive a small stake in each successful program project. SEDA’s share of any future revenues will be used to create and grow a sustained funding source to support creative technology start-ups in Savannah.

SEDA Board of Directors Chairman Steve Green said, “It has long been a goal of the SEDA staff and board of directors to develop strategies for incubating and growing companies directly related to this unique pipeline of talent at SCAD. This program marks one of the most meaningful and necessary investments ever made toward those goals.” 

“The SCAD+ program is a prime example of how SCAD fosters innovation, particularly in emerging fields such as virtual and augmented reality,” said John Paul Rowan, vice president for SCAD Savannah and SCAD+ Advisory Board member. “We are proud to cultivate an environment where SCAD alumni can develop projects with a lasting global impact. Savannah has never been more poised to support creative companies than it is today.”

SCAD+ is the first year-long entrepreneurial program that directly addresses the demand for creative content and sophisticated technology. SCAD is the preeminent leader in preparing its students for careers in creative fields. They were the first university to use VR technology in acceptance letters and AR technology in a college course catalog, advancing the college admission process on an international scale. 

Nine alumni have been selected from hundreds of applications by the SCAD+ Advisory Board to participate in the program. Working in teams of four, the alumni are provided with a living space, work studio, and an incremental stipend over the course of 12 months. The inaugural SCAD+ program will culminate on Demo Day, when each group will present their concepts to potential investors.

Coding, a vital part of the SCAD+ projects, is a system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages. They are the instructions in a computer program, the foundation for digital products.

Since digital industries such as software design, app development game design, virtual reality and more rely on coding expertise, SEDA is also working closely with the Savannah Chatham County Public School System Superintendent Ann Levett to integrate coding curriculum in the school system in addition to partnerships that promote coding boot camps for adult learners.

Green added, “SCAD is the key asset that differentiates Savannah from our competitors. SEDA would like to thank John Paul Rowan for his vision and leadership in bringing this initiative into reality. We are grateful to him and SEDA for their creativity, talent and collaboration that will take this “coding cradle” out into the international marketplace.”

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