Peachtree Corners tech incubator receives $1.8M federal grant

Peachtree Corners has received a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to expand its business incubator, Prototype Prime.

The incubator, designed to help small technology-oriented businesses grow, is adjacent to the Gwinnett city’s 1.5-mile test track intended for the development of self-driving vehicles. The city announced a partnership with Sprint in January to add a 5G wireless network that businesses working on the track and within Prototype Prime will access.

“We’re working together to make this ecosystem so that people can come together and do some pretty cool testing or demonstration,” City Manager Brian Johnson said.

This is the first federal grant the program has received, Johnson said. It was started three years ago with $500,000 in seed funding, and the city has contributed another $500,000 each year since. It also receives revenue from rental tenants, special event rentals and private investors, Johnson said. The grant will enable the incubator to grow in size and tenant capacity, taking over the second floor of the building it currently occupies. That will double the space to 25,000 square feet and allow up to 150 people to work there, up from the current 50-person capacity, Johnson said.

The companies in the space currently “gravitate towards that intelligent mobility arena” due to the access to the test track, which is expected to be complete in April, but not all focus on autonomous vehicles. Some current tenants include a company working to use GPS technology to improve the efficiency of irrigation and another group creating video game content, Johnson said.

Once companies reach a certain size or level of profitability, they “graduate” from the incubator, making space for newer, smaller companies to come in, Johnson said. The ultimate goal of the incubator is for these businesses to remain in the community and help the local technology sector grow, Johnson said.

“True success is for these brand new companies, when they graduate, to occupy space still within Peachtree Corners and become productive members of the Peachtree Corners business community, and, after hours, as part of the community with their kids and families,” Johnson said.

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