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Top technology companies to be showcased at forum

DULUTH - The Technology Association of Georgia will unveil its third annual picks for the Top 40 Innovative Technology Companies in the state at the Gwinnett Technology Forum on Feb. 20. The monthly forum is sponsored by the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce.

Along with the Top 40 companies, the Gwinnett Technology Forum will also feature a presentation on "The Future of AT&T Technology" by Clifford L. Minor, vice president and general manager for AT&T's wireless operations in Georgia.

The association annually selects the Top 40 companies based on specific criteria, like the company's level of innovative technology and the scope and financial impact of that innovation, likelihood of success and the impact of its marketing on a national and global scale. Eligible companies are Georgia-based and their primary business is the development and dissemination of technology.

"They are producers of technology, rather than buyers," said Tino Mantella, the association's president and CEO. "By innovative technology, we look for companies that produced disruptive technology that has caused changes to the industry and the way people look at the world, like Google or YouTube. Maybe they found new ways to make technology use easier, less expensive or more efficient."

For example, in 2006 TAG selected PlayMotion for its development of products that let players enter virtual worlds free of goggles, gloves and wires. JacketMicro was chosen for its use of plastic materials to reduce the size and increase the speed of wireless devices.

More than 11,000 technology businesses operate in Georgia, employing more than 200,000 workers, according to Mantella. The vast majority of those businesses are clustered in metro Atlanta, although pockets of technology clusters are developing in Columbus and Savannah.

Gwinnett County holds from 1,300 to 1,400 technology companies, according to Demming Bass, Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce's communications manager.

The top 40 companies will participate in an exhibition at the Georgia Technology Summit on Feb. 28 at the Cobb Galleria Centre. Winners will be cut down to a top 10 and those companies will be invited to present their company overviews at the Summit, at which Mantella expects more than 800 technology leaders to attend.

CEOs from Motorola, Optima Solutions and Synergy America created the forum five years ago as a way for Gwinnett County's cluster of technology company owners to get to know each other and promote Gwinnett as a location friendly to technology-based businesses.

"The forum exists to help strengthen the existing cluster of technology companies in Gwinnett and to make the county the best it can be to make technology companies want to come to and expand their operations here," Bass said. "We have enhanced our monthly meetings this year. In addition to presentations, we go on tours of technology campuses, like Scientific Atlanta."

About 100 executives attend each forum, Bass said.

Reservations are required to attend the Gwinnett Technology Forum. For questions or to R.S.V.P., contact Jo Anne Wymer at 770-232-8812 or Joanne@gwinnettchamber.org.