Makervillage will participate in $550,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to boost innovation on local issues.

Augusta Health announces the selection of Makervillage, Inc as a participating site in the Mesh Network for Innovation grant program established by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The $550,000 grant was awarded to the Clinical and Digital Health department at Augusta University’s College of Allied Health Sciences and, a non-profit innovation center.  The grant aims to help startups in mid-sized communities solve public health problems through innovation.

Vahé Heboyan, Francesco Beltrame, and Gianluca De Leo of Augusta University conduct site visit and community interview with Tricia Steele of Makervillage.

With the grant, Rome will join Athens, Augusta, Columbus, and Myrtle Beach to create a mesh network of communities in the Southeast promote and implement scalable innovations that impact public health. The goal is to increase startup activities in those communities and help businesses making an impact on public health to conduct research, get funds, and scale up.

“When it comes to fostering innovation, large cities are advantaged by the concentration of resources and population they have,” said Paul Tarini, senior program officer at RWJF. “We hope that connecting Makervillage through a mesh network in collaboration with Augusta University will create a similar—virtual—concentration of resources and people which produces innovative start-ups that reflect the needs of the Rome area as well as the Southeast region.”

This grant will also involve the creation of the health innovation certificate at Augusta University, providing people who have an innovative idea with the knowledge to pursue it through online coursework. will produce a five city startup deal flow and venture capital network to support the growth of public health-related solutions within each city.

“A mesh network provides a unique communications framework that allows all the communities within that network to increase data sharing efficiency which will improve partnership and investment opportunities between cities.” said co-founder Eric Parker, “the participation of Makervillage will add exponentially to our potential outcomes.”

As a part of the grant participation, Makervillage is required to participate in university-led research and coordinate with local stakeholders to identify critical public health challenges in Rome.  In 2018, Makervillage will host a hackathon to address the identified public health factor and all ideas will be shared at a regional Public Health Innovation Summit. Startups addressing local public health criteria will have access to additional support and access to capital.

“We are tremendously grateful to join this group and begin tackling areas of concern within our community,” said Makervillage President Tricia Steele, “ We’ll host a discussion session amongst key stakeholders within the coming months to begin determining the areas of public health where our network of individuals and startups can have the most impact.”




Augusta University is Georgia’s innovation center for education and health care, training the next generation of innovators, leaders and health care providers in classrooms and clinics on three campuses in Augusta and satellite locations across the state. The University boasts 9,000 students and is home to the state’s only public academic health center.

Makervillage, Inc is a non-profit organization that inspires and nurtures entrepreneurs and creatives in Rome and Northwest Georgia through programs, resources, events, and access to capital. The 11,000 square foot creative hub includes art gallery, meeting and work space, marketing lab, and shipping center.