New Georgia Tech, Atlanta venture fund to put city on tech map

The city of Atlanta, Georgia Tech and 10 of the metro area’s biggest corporations, including Home Depot and Delta Air Lines, announced Thursday they are combining resources to launch a technology incubator and venture fund that they hope cements Atlanta as a tech powerhouse.

Engage will launch with $15 million right off the bat and be open to start ups around the country to lure top talent to Atlanta, Georgia Tech said. Applications will be available this spring.

Calling Atlanta the “southeast’s technology, innovation and entrepreneurship capital,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement, ““We must take advantage of these unique assets to further stimulate our growing ecosystem of start-ups and growth-stage companies, connecting them to capital, talent and mentorship.”

The other companies participating in Engage are AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, UPS and Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Each of the companies committed $1.5 million to the venture fund.

Thursday’s announcement is a jewel in Georgia Tech’s crown and also bolsters Atlanta and Georgia’s position in the national tech stratosphere.

In the past year, Anthem, Honeywell, NCR and GE Digital have announced major tech hubs in the city of Atlanta that will bring thousands of high-paying jobs in the coming years.

In particular, Midtown has emerged since the Great Recession as the Atlanta region's technology boomtown. NCR in recent years announced it would relocate from Gwinnett County to a new headquarters at Technology Square.

The company then doubled down on that move last year when it announced its tech hub and second phase of development. The company will ultimately have more than 5,000 workers in Midtown.

Other prominent names that have built new innovation labs or made corporate expansions near Georgia Tech include Equifax, Southern Company, Panasonic, Sage Software and AT&T. Coca-Cola and Turner Broadcasting teamed up in late 2015 to back start ups that could bring potential innovations to both companies.

“By engaging the business community to maximize our collective strengths, we can attract and grow new companies, foster economic development and retain talent in Georgia,” Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson said in a statement.