Utilizing new ways to spur growth

With more than 700 startups, 66 higher education institutions with more than 275,000 students and nearly $1.8 billion in annual academic research and development expenditures, Atlanta is full of ideas and talent.

Earlier this year, the Metro Atlanta Chamber announced the launch of the Metro Atlanta Open Innovation Forum in partnership with NineSigma, a leader in global innovation. The Forum is designed to showcase innovation needs of metro Atlanta companies to innovators and entrepreneurs who may have a solution. The ultimate objective is to spark long-term partnerships and drive continuous innovation in the region, leading to new jobs and economic growth.

Traditionally, new business development processes and the marketing of new products took place within companies’ boundaries. However, the mobility and availability of highly educated people has increased over the years. As a result, large amounts of knowledge exist outside the research laboratories of organizations, making open innovation attractive to many companies.

Simply defined, open innovation utilizes external resources, such as intellectual property, technology and talent, to advance technology and product development. For businesses, open innovation is a more profitable way to innovate, because it can reduce costs, accelerate time to market and creates new revenue streams for the company. The beauty of this system is that it allows for smaller, more nimble companies to develop innovative, valuable solutions to large companies. The Metro Atlanta Open Innovation Forum also provides a platform for meaningful connections between area start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures with the metro region’s bigger brands.

While NineSigma manages the online open innovation platform and markets project postings to their network of more than 2 million solution providers globally, the chamber is focused on promoting the projects to solution providers in the Atlanta region to facilitate local partnerships.

Open innovation clients range from Fortune 500 multinational corporations, middle market companies, entrepreneurial start-ups, government and not-for-profit organizations. The Metro Atlanta Open Innovation Forum is a combination of different innovation needs from multiple undisclosed metro Atlanta companies. Companies such as Kraft, Siemens, Haier, and Samsung use the platform with much success.

The Open Innovation Forum further drives our efforts to become a hub for creating new ideas, especially through our strong business and university connections. Georgia Tech‘s Tech Square has grown since its opening in 2003 and is now home to more than 100 start-ups and innovative companies. In the fall, the Georgia Business Success Center, a new business incubator, accelerator and education project, will open in partnership with Kennesaw State University.

Startup Atlanta serves growth-focused entrepreneurs in Atlanta who are focused on scaling their business. Additionally, programs such as SwitchPitch expand business development capabilities and spurs creativity by allowing large corporations to pitch projects to qualified startups.

Atlanta’s innovation economy is thriving, but we must continue to identify creative ways to build our region’s capacity – our ability to produce new ideas, technologies, and processes, convert them to products and cultivate globally competitive businesses. The Metro Atlanta Open Innovation Forum provides a tool for corporations to access the brilliant minds of Atlanta, and for innovators and entrepreneurs to utilize one of Atlanta’s greatest assets – our major corporations – to advanceresearch and growbusinesses. The reward for all is revenue growth, job creation and sustainability for the future.