A Place for Innovation: How Georgia Tech and the AT&T Foundry Are Accelerating Innovation in Atlanta

April 13, 2017
By Greg King

AT&T could’ve chosen from one of many places to open the AT&T Foundry in 2013. The decision to come to Atlanta –at Georgia Tech’s Technology Square – represents a confidence that the city of Atlanta, and the AT&T share common goals and a similar vision for innovation. 

Atlanta AT&T Foundry

Atlanta, and particularly the Midtown area, has become a magnet for startups, incubators, established companies, and corporate innovation labs like the AT&T Foundry.

Metro Atlanta offers a range of resources, infrastructure, and potential partners in innovation.  As the Southeast’s technology, innovation and entrepreneurial capital, Atlanta has the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the country.  Here at Technology Square we have one of the highest densities of start-ups, corporate labs, university students and researchers.

In my role at Georgia Tech I support that growth of companies and corporate labs through work with our city and state economic development partners.  Each day we see the importance of the resources Atlanta and Georgia offer in terms of infrastructure, business climate and as a place for innovation.  

Our world-class research universities attract skilled talent, and cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit. For example, Georgia Tech has VentureLab, a commercialization program that moves technology from the lab to the marketplace. And our CREATE-X program helps build entrepreneurial confidence among Georgia Tech students.

Increasingly, innovation is accelerated by companies going outside their own walls to collaborate with others. Georgia Tech’s Technology Square is an innovation ecosystem for just such companies – a place where companies and campus develop strategic relationships around research and innovation.   In addition to top talent and the corporate innovation and technology operations, the area incubators, accelerators and other programs, make this a great location.  

The Atlanta AT&T Foundry was one of the early members of our “innovation neighborhood”.  It was at the leading edge of the development when it opened its doors  here at Tech Square. With a focus on emerging devices, the connected car and mobility services, the AT&T team brought both experience and energy from a corporate innovation perspective – it was a great fit and an exciting addition to the area.

Tech Square and the immediate area is home to about 20 corporate labs and innovation centers.  These innovation centers foster the area’s culture of collaboration, which includes students, faculty, local startups, and university researchers.

The innovation team at the Atlanta AT&T Foundry accelerates their work in concert with a talented, diverse set of collaborators. These relationships and the AT&T Foundry’s culture of innovation give them the ability to move quickly on ideas and concepts to learn, iterate, and scale.

The Atlanta AT&T Foundry is a large part of the creative dialog here at Tech Square.  One thing about being part of a tech hub is the ability for its community members to learn from each other.  

The Atlanta AT&T Foundry has brought additional opportunities to convene developers, students, and entrepreneurs. Some of the various technology-focused events include: hackathons, developer programs, Futurecast, and a Rise of the Rest tour stop. 

Area innovation centers like the AT&T Foundry naturally engage with the large number of startups located in Tech Square. The ability for large corporate innovation teams and local entrepreneurs to connect and work together is a significant benefit of proximity.  In addition, the AT&T Foundry and other corporate teams and labs have identified unique opportunities to work with one another to develop new ideas and opportunities to bring those ideas to life.

For example, design, development, and testing for the AT&T Smart Cities framework began in the Atlanta AT&T Foundry. The framework uses a holistic approach to improve city functions like transportation, water leakages, lighting and safety. It helps support more connected communities.

Initial spotlight cities and universities include Atlanta and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Investments and relationships in the community like this continue to grow the area as a technology hub.

We are very pleased that AT&T chose Atlanta as a Foundry location. The company is a great collaborator here at Georgia Tech and with other area universities through thought leadership, involvement with students and faculty, and more.  The Atlanta AT&T Foundry demonstrates our shared goals and vision of innovation.  We look forward to continuing to explore new and different ways to work together. 

Greg King - Associate Vice President for Economic Development, Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech)

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