San Diego State University in Georgia (SDSU) announced the launch of the Public – Private Partnership fund (PPF) at an event held in Marriott Tbilisi Hotel on Wednesday.

The newly established Public Private Partnership (PPP) Fund has as its major goal to offer financial resources and American degree programs that are affordable for talented, successful, socially deprived young people through scholarships. The aim of the fund is also to use the financial resources gained from the public private partnerships for the development of students’ innovative projects and studies. Georgian students will also have the chance to participate in exchange visits to the SDSU main campus in San Diego California and be actively involved in various research programs.

In return, SDSU will offer trainings to the staff of the PPPF’s partnering organizations and companies, who will be able to offer work placements and internships to successful students in their respective organizations, thus making the process mutually beneficial for the students and for those organizations interested in cooperation with the recently established venture.

Being involved in PPPF brings the companies numerous possibilities, be it brand exposure and publicity, or getting connected with American business representatives through visits and exchanges. It also allows access to cutting-edge industry research.

The PPPF launch is primarily addressed to assist and foster STEM education in Georgia, thus forging its economic growth and creating the highest qualified workforce which will be in high demand in Georgia, troughout the region, and globally. As Ian Kelly, US Ambassador to Georgia, said in his speech, “With the SDSU Georgia Public Private Partnership Fund, even more bright students will benefit from the opportunity to get a US education right here, at home, in critical fields like biochemistry, and computer engineering. I would like to assure you that the US government strongly supports this program, that this is a critical part of our investment in Georgia’s success and I encourage you to think creatively about how you can support this joint US- Georgian initiative.”

Dr. Stephen L. Weber, President Emeritus, San Diego State University, who came from US to attend the event, made a presentation on Public Private Partnerships practices, explaining why they are so mutually beneficial in the case of universities.

“The secret of success of San Diego State University, as well as other State Universities in the US, lays in a successful public-private partnership tradition,” he said. “Only 19 percent of university funding comes from the state of California, whereas USD 130 mln was gained from private corporations last year. Another major portion of income for the university comes from philanthropy,” he added.

From investments from private companies or individuals, last year SDSU saw USD 107 mln. “Ours is a knowledged-based economy, and universities are repositories of knowledge,” Weber said. “American universities are major economic drivers in their communities and these programs are about giving Georgians a chance to develop the skills the country needs. It is a wise investment in the future of Georgia and in the future of young man and woman.”

Dr.Weber said, generously donating USD 1000 himself to the fund at the end of his presentation.

Dr. Ken Walsh, Dean, SDSU Georgia, talked about the PPP Fund goals and concepts. “The objective of the project is to build a STEM workforce in Georgia with internationally recognized degrees that can be used to build investment in Georgia, to improve the capacity for higher education and, through that, attract more investment and fuel economic growth. For these degree programs we’re building a wide range of infrastructure to support laboratories at the same level as in San Diego. This year we’re also embarking on a new effort to add civil and construction engineering, so we’ll be able to address technology, information technology, bio-technology and infrastructure- three critical need areas for Georgia.”

He went on to point out that many of the students at SDSU are from socially deprived families, and although the goal of the project was to give Georgian students a US education locally at a low cost, and that objective is fulfilled, it is still expensive to obtain an American degree in Georgia, which is where the help of the public private partnership is needed.

“Support such students is critical and that’s why the PPP Fund was created. It is the vehicle that will enable public and private sector leaders to support the program and, most importantly, the students of the program.”

The Public Private Partnership Fund launch ended with the announcing of students who were to receive scholarships from TBC Bank, LTD Adjara Water and Dr. Ken Walsh’s family.