Georgia Tech’s Technology Square opened last deade and features research and education facilities as well as stores and restaurants. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Goldman Sachs joins Georgia Tech venture group to aid startups

Global investment bank Goldman Sachs has joined a growth accelerator and venture capital fund based at Georgia Tech that’s aimed at promising early-stage companies.

The Engage Ventures program announced that Goldman Sachs will be the 11th corporate member of its board, agreeing to provide funding, resources and time to help new companies progress from the creation stage to where they’re making money.

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Engage launched in 2017 with a $15 million fund, including investments by the founding corporate members of the board. With the inclusion of Goldman and Invest Georgia, that fund is now $18 million, said Blake Patton, Engage’s managing director.

The organization pairs cohorts of startups with a who’s who of executives at major corporations. The idea is to refine the young companies’ business plans and products to prepare them to go to market, as well as to introduce the entrepreneurs to potential customers and investors.

Engage is part of a cadre of Atlanta venture firms founded in recent years to help supply the mother’s milk of startups — investor capital — to a region that has trailed rival startup hubs for investment funding.

The state’s startup ecosystem has blossomed since the recession. Tech and corporate jobs have been among the growth engines of Atlanta’s economy during the prolonged recovery.

“While access to capital has been one of the areas we can improve in the Southeast, when we set out to build Engage, we recognized that when you think of leading tech hubs, their strength is in connecting large companies with the innovators,” Patton said in an interview.

The Atlanta Tech Village was founded in December 2012 and houses over 300 startups and has 1,000 members. The Atlanta Tech Village, located in Buckhead, aims to help Atlanta become a top 5 tech startup city. Photos courtesy of the Atlanta Tech Village.

Dave Dase, Goldman Sachs’ head of investment banking for the Southeast, will serve on the Engage board. He said the investment bank can bring to the table expertise in finance, cyber security, artificial intelligence and other sectors to help companies grow.

“As a financial services firm, I think there’s a lot we can potentially do,” Dase said.

The partnership also matches Goldman Sachs’ strategy of growing in regional markets, such as Atlanta, Dase said.

Engage was founded with a corporate board including AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, the Georgia Power Foundation, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Home Depot and UPS. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is owned by Cox through its subsidiary Cox Media Group.)

Engage is based at Technology Square and its mentorship and training program is produced in conjunction with the Advanced Technology Development Center. The fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures.

“As we engage with companies like Goldman Sachs, we are working to maximize the collective strengths of Georgia Tech, the Engage corporate partners, and the city of Atlanta to support startups nationally, while promoting Atlanta’s world-class talent and strengthening the economy here in Georgia and the southeast,” Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson said in a news release.

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