“This time, we’re not going to chase the wave,” Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday. “We’re going to make the wave.”

A key part of that wave-making effort is a $36 million donation from an anonymous giver to build a cutting-edge nanotechnology research center at Georgia Tech University. Perdue disclosed the center and gift during his keynote address at the Georgia Technology Celebration. He said he will ask the state’s General Assembly to contribute up to $45 million in state support over the next several years.

“You have to think small in order to get big,” Perdue told the more than 1,200 people who turned out for the event that was put on by a coalition of groups, including the Technology Association of Georgia.

“If Georgia is to emerge as a leader in nanotechnology, we need to take advantage of the opportunity to build one of the nation’s premier centers for this cutting edge technology and research,” Perdue said. “Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor who recognizes the tremendous economic potential of this opportunity, the state will be able to share the cost of building this new facility.”

The 160,000 sq. ft. center will be the most advanced nanotechnology facility in the Southeast, the first of its kind in the region, and will be one of the most sophisticated in the country, he added. It also will enable the state to compete with other places where such facilities are planned or under construction…at MIT and Cornell in the Northeast; Purdue and the University of Illinois in the Midwest; and Stanford and UC Berkeley in the West.

The center also will offer access to nanotech researchers from other Georgia universities as well as industry partners.

“Georgia will jump to the front of the pack in the next big technology revolution,” Perdue said.

John Yates, the chairman for the event, praised the announcement.

“It’s really positive news for the state,” said Yates, who leads the technology practice at Morris Manning & Martin LLP. “One of the things this does is show there is a focus to the technology message in Georgia.”