The next Facebook, Amazon or mobile device phenomenon like the iPhone could start in Atlanta thanks to a new venture capital collaboration between the city, Georgia Tech and 10 of the metro area’s largest corporations.
To get more tech investment in Atlanta and to continue the city’s recent rise as a technology leader, the group launched a venture fund Thursday dubbed Engage. It’s purpose is to lure start ups looking for a place to incubate the Twitter or Instagram of tomorrow.
It’s a big deal for the city because investors who throw millions at the next big thing haven’t dumped a lot of that money in Atlanta, boosters say. Seeing compnaies like Delta Air Lines and The Home Depot putting in $1.5 million each to help back start ups will change the conversation.
“Venture capital is a challenge that we have,” said Georga Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson. “But we have 10 companies that are very interested in the opportunities and innovations that can be incorporated into their businesses or that they can help grow. Showing that kind of engagement from the Fortune 500 will attract the venture capital community.”
Thursday’s announcement is a jewel in Georgia Tech’s crown and also bolsters Atlanta and Georgia’s position in the national tech stratosphere.
In the past year, Anthem, Honeywell, NCR and GE Digital have announced major tech hubs in the city of Atlanta that will bring thousands of high-paying jobs in the coming years.
In particular, Midtown has emerged since the Great Recession as the Atlanta region’s technology boomtown. NCR in recent years announced it would relocate from Gwinnett County to a new headquarters at Technology Square.
The company then doubled down on that move last year when it announced its tech hub and second phase of development. The company will ultimately have more than 5,000 workers in Midtown.
Other prominent names that have built new innovation labs or made corporate expansions near Georgia Tech include Equifax, Southern Company, Panasonic, Sage Software and AT&T. Coca-Cola and Turner Broadcasting teamed up in late
2015 to back start ups that could bring potential innovations to both companies.
Calling Atlanta the “southeast’s technology, innovation and entrepreneurship capital,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement, ““We must take advantage of these unique assets to further stimulate our growing ecosystem of start-ups and growth-stage companies, connecting them to capital, talent and mentorship.”