Atlanta's innovation scene is growing rapidly. Last week, a panel of innovators and economic developers spoke at a Midtown Atlanta event focused on collaboration and the local technology ecosystem. The message was clear - Atlanta has the right ingredients to become a global hub for innovation but it's going to take a lot more collaboration to make that happen.
Atlanta is home to 27 Fortune 1000 companies that have real problems and need real solutions. We also have over 250,000 students enrolled in the metropolitan area. Georgia Tech alone graduations roughly 3,500 students every year and unfortunately, over half of them leave the state. Not to mention our affordable cost of living, warm weather, airport hub and x
We have the talent and we have the problems but they are not connecting in a meaningful way to create true change. We don't want our corporations to become the next Blockbuster or Office Depot. And with start-ups knocking on the door of every industry, innovation is no longer an option, it's a means of survival.
John Chambers, the CEO of CISCO, predicted that "just one-third of all major enterprise companies will exist in 25 years." That's a pretty terrifying prediction for big corporations.
So what's the answer? How can we make Atlanta the next big innovation and entrepreneur hub of the world? Paul Judge and Allen Nance have a vision and its called TechSquare Labs. I've been lucky enough to work with these two super successful serial entrepreneurs to create a space where corporations can partake in an open innovation process. TechSquare Labs offers a much more affordable option for corporations that want to dip their toes into the innovation process and be in the middle of everything going on in Technology Square.
Across the street will be a merit-based coworking area filled with bright technical students who want to work on challenging problems, providing corporations a gold mine of potential solutions to their problems. Furthermore, Paul and Allen want to help these students and entrepreneurs turn their own dreams and ideas into reality by offering mentorship and access to capital.
A common complaint in the Atlanta entrepreneurial community is that it lacks the capital necessary to provide a solid foundation to build start-up companies. But Paul Judge doesn't believe that, saying that the money is there. If no one wants to invest in your idea or product, then come up with something better.
So there you have it - built something good and they will come. That applies just as much to big corporations as it does to a person with an idea.