Cable giant Comcast is getting in on the action to find the next big thing in Atlanta tech.
The Philadelphia-based company is launching a technology incubator at its new offices in The Battery at Cobb County's SunTrust Park. "The Farm Startup Accelerator," as the project will be known, will help identify and nurture tech entrepreneurs who are creating the innovations of tomorrow.
“We have become a natural target for anybody who has a technology idea that needs to have scale,” Bill Connors, president of Comcast’s Central Division, said, running down a list of Comcast’s business empire, which includes cable, phone, home security and soon, cell service.
“The Farm will be a natural aggregation point for all those entrepreneurs who think they have the next multi-billion dollar idea that Comcast can take advantage of,” he said.
Supporting tech startups is big among Fortune 500 companies as consumers increasingly use the Web and mobile devices like phones and tablets for goods and services. Home Depot, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Chick-fil-A and elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp have invested recently in tech startups or opened offices dedicated to innovation at place such as Georgia Tech.
Comcast will focus on those companies whose tech will benefit its businesses, including applicants from the mobility, connectivity and communications arenas. About 20 startups a year will be accepted, half of which are expected to come from metro Atlanta.
Comcast will help the businesses develop their products, provide seed capital of about $20,000 to aid growth, match them with investors and offer mentorship.
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For Atlanta, the program also offers jobs. Most of the companies hire three or four people initially, but those numbers can grow as the businesses take off, said Toby Krout, co-founder and executive director of Boomtown, a Boulder, Colo.-based tech accelerator that will manage the Atlanta program for Comcast.
Krout said metro Atlanta was selected because of the region’s and Georgia’s reputation for attracting and supporting tech innovation and for the wealth of people with great ideas.
“Entrepreneurship is all about looking around corners for innovative people,” he said.