Metropolitan Atlanta’s universities and hospitals (“Eds and Meds”), with more than 340,000 jobs created, make a larger contribution to the metro area economy than its Fortune 500 headquarters. Its universities have many joint research projects, but major hospitals are much more competitive. Best practice cities showed much more collaboration across the board. This study describes the eleven significant collaborative projects in detail, how and when they were started, the university and medical partners, federal, state and other funding sources. Surprisingly with less than half the hospitals and many major universities participating, significant breakthroughs for global health including COVID-19, EBOLA, HIV-AIDS, cancer, infectious disease, and transplants have been achieved. The pandemic showed major weaknesses in the relationship between public health agencies, hospitals and the public necessary to detect and treat the disease’s impact resulting in Georgia being among the lowest vaccinated states. This research, which includes the collection and analysis of proprietary institutional data and more than 125 interviews with Atlanta stakeholders, finds that more collaboration among Eds and Meds institutions would greatly increase Atlanta’s innovative synergy, economic development and resilience. It includes analysis of best practice cities such as Pittsburgh, San Diego, Baltimore and others that have created a “Grand Plan” between local governments, Eds and Meds and private companies committing to investment and collaboration. The paper closes with several recommendations.
Public health agencies, state and local government, university medical and public health schools must learn from the pandemic and develop a strong working relationship in anticipation of the next crisis.
State and local governments and chambers of commerce should recognize Eds & Meds as a business cluster similar to supply chain, film and financial technology to promote collaboration, research and job growth. An existing or new organization should take the lead in bringing together potential collaborators.
State investment in the Georgia Research Alliance should be restored to prior year levels.
Atlanta should learn from best practice cities and create a “grand plan” creating a partnership with Eds & Meds committing to significant expansion of collaborative projects and recruit private partners.
Eds & Meds can cooperate to recruit, train and hire citizens for entry level jobs and purchase more goods and services locally to reduce income disparities in the region.
Williams, Sam A., "Atlanta Eds and Meds: Collaboration or Competition" (2021). USI Publications. 67.