Metro Atlanta Celebrates Status as a Major Technology Hub (2024)

Atlanta’s thriving tech ecosystem can be improved even more by providing valuable resources and opportunities to startups and entrepreneurs. That was a central theme during Atlanta Tech Week.

From June 9 to 15, organizers brought tech enthusiasts to various sites in the metro area. The kickoff event took place Monday, June 10 at Atlanta Tech Park in Peachtree Corners.

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A community built for startups

A panel discussion titled “Emerging Tech in Atlanta OTP” had special significance for the Southwest Gwinnett area. This part of metro Atlanta is home to a community focused on helping start-ups and established companies flourish.

The key objectives are to identify, initiate and drive groundbreaking new ways to improve services through technological innovation. This big-picture thinking is supported throughout the area with small business incubation, technology support and many other business-friendly platforms.

Panel members included: Brandon Branham, executive director of Curiosity Lab, Graham Gintz, associate director of Hatch Bridge, Julie Price, director of communications at Atlanta Tech Park and moderator Jen Whitlow, head of community partnerships at Fusen. The group discussed how public and private partnerships bring together the local technology ecosystem, foster collaboration and create a nurturing environment for all.

Bringing innovation to Southwest Gwinnett

“Atlanta Tech Park has been part of the Peachtree Corners community for about seven years,” said Price. “One of the things that we’re very proud of is just building a great community environment and a strong ecosystem to spontaneously collaborate. We offer a lot of opportunities for our members to connect with the Atlanta tech industry both inside and outside the perimeter.”

Atlanta Tech Park offers practice pitch sessions, so members can practice their presentations.

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“We have seen through some events that … you can definitely tell those that are ready for presenting and not ready,” said Price. “We also do a lot of connecting, whether it’s to venture, whether it’s to technology, whether it’s to one of our partners or sponsors.”

She mentioned the partnership with InterSystems, a leading provider of data solutions for industries with complex challenges like healthcare, financial services as well as supply chain and logistics.

“They have an entire business unit that is developed specifically towards startups. And they can provide tools that can provide funding, they provide coaching,” said Price.

Hatch Bridge was the “new kid on the block” so to speak, but it has accomplished a lot in the year that it’s been around.

“We’re funded by the state through Kennesaw State … And unlike some of the other communities in town, we don’t have a tech requirement. We just had a scalability requirement,” said Gintz. “We serve entrepreneurs from idea to growth stage. And we are working to extend Atlanta up the I-75 Corridor all the way up to Tennessee.”

Being so new, the goals fluctuate with the clients’ needs, but Hatch Bridge is partnering with local city governments and counties to provide entrepreneurial programming to help people test ideas for startups.

“We act like a startup. And so, we’re constantly changing what our programming is based on the needs of our community,” said Gintz. “Three months ago, we had six companies in our last cohort that are looking to go fundraise this summer. We threw together a program, getting them prepped.”

Curiosity Lab, funded by the city of Peachtree Corners, is a living lab designed to provide a real-world test environment to advance next-generation intelligent mobility and smart city technology. In its five years of existence, it has garnered an abundance of firsts in technology and innovation.

“We are similar [to Hatch Bridge] in the aspects that we support the incubator early-stage growth companies in our partnership with ATDC (Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center),” said Branham.

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“What makes us unique is that roadway that you drove in on. That is our playground. That is where companies have access to test emerging products in a real-world environment, free of charge so they can bring a product hanging on a traffic signal, put it on a light, or even take it to an underground robotic delivery system right outside this door.”

To date, Curiosity Lab has helped a little more than 60 startups. Currently, about 85% are hardware companies.

“That [road] is a bridge for the hardware companies that tend to have barriers of access to entering the startup world. We bring the support services to help,” said Branham.

Perks of being outside the perimeter

Building a strong community environment and maintaining ownership and control are key to success for tech entrepreneurs, panel members agreed. But one thing that stands out in metro Atlanta is that there are many strong partnerships formed outside of the main metro center. Besides free parking, Peachtree Corners, for example, offers space and nearby resources that don’t require an hour’s commute.

“I think one of the things that we figured out, especially as a space that was started post-COVID, was building a physical space for entrepreneurs where they are,” said Gintz. “Our ecosystem does such a good job of sending people to work based on what their needs are—what they need at the moment. Driving 45 minutes to an hour every single day and finding a way to track that makes building a startup a lot harder.”

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Being physically accessible means a lot when time and money are at a premium.

“We’ve also learned through our process that sometimes companies need that walk phase of development technology. They’re not ready for a dense urban environment,” said Branham. “So, this gives them that playground, that perfect place to figure that out and get that technology ready to go content and scale and go into cities.”

Technology growth and development outside the perimeter are important to metro Atlanta as a whole.

“There is a triangle in North Atlanta that is called Silicon Pasture. And it goes from Peachtree Corners up to Cumming down to like Milton, Alpharetta, and it’s the highest concentration of IT professionals in the state,” said Price. “It’s become our mission to keep and attract that talent here in Atlanta, which is why you’re seeing names pop up inside the perimeter like Microsoft and Google. I mean, everybody’s trying to put a foothold in here.”

Photos by George Hunter.

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