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Sitting in a conference room overlooking the city skyline of Atlanta, Invesco’s CEO Marty Flanagan and Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson shared that leaders of the city’s largest companies wanted to unite the region’s global companies and the thriving startup ecosystem.
Marty talked about his time in Silicon Valley and how leaders of the technology community and the large companies were more connected, and how that fostered the Valley’s innovation ecosystem.
Bud talked about the more than 15 corporate innovation centers that have opened in Georgia Tech’s Tech Square including AT&T, Delta, Home Depot, and Southern Company – and how they were looking to tap into the innovation happening in the region.
The CEOs and innovation executives of these companies were thinking big and ready to put “skin in the game”. That led to the launch of Engage, a new mentorship-driven accelerator and venture fund in partnership with 10 global companies, Georgia Tech, and Tech Square Ventures.
Engage will be based at Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center in Tech Square and is open to startups across the country, with a focus on go-to-market strategy and customer access. The participating companies include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco, The Home Depot, and UPS. The companies have committed $15 million in capital to the fund to date and the CEOs of the founding companies will serve on the Engage Board of Directors. In addition, executives from the companies will serve as mentors for startups participating in the accelerator.
What makes Engage unique is the interaction of these global companies with the startup ecosystem to help entrepreneurs build companies that will transform their markets. Rather than filling the specific needs of a single large company, Engage startups will benefit from the combined perspective of the founding companies.
Atlanta already enjoys many of the key ingredients for a successful startup ecosystem with a top 10 pool of tech talent, world class research universities including the nation’s largest and most diverse engineering university in Georgia Tech, a growing base of active entrepreneurs and investors, as well as incubators and clusters of startup activity like the Advanced Technology Development Center, Atlanta Technology Village, Switchyards, and many others.
But what startups need more than anything else is market access and customers. For startups looking to bring new innovations to market, Atlanta is the place to be.
Engage highlights the best of Atlanta: it brings together a group of forward-thinking global companies and a world class research university with the vision and dedication to drive innovation and provide entrepreneurs access to markets, customers, and funding.
Blake Patton is the Managing Partner of Tech Square Ventures, a seed and early stage venture firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s a serial entrepreneur, investor, and leader in the Atlanta startup community.