Yesterday was ATDC‘s annual Startup Showcase… over 40 companies exhibiting, plus seven more in a “fast-pitch” event co-sponsored with VentureAtlanta. The companies ranged from an app to make animated selfies with your cellphone (Selfie360), to a recovery capsule to bring small payloads back from orbit (Terminal Velocity Aerospace).
It was a heck of a show, and over 500 people were here to share it with us. If you missed it, don’t miss next year!
In addition to the Showcase and the fast-pitch event, we celebrated the graduation of three companies from ATDC: MessageGears, Pindrop Security, and SalesLoft. You can read profiles of each of them here.
Here were my remarks to close out the graduation ceremony.
It’s ATDC’s day, but I have to ask: who watched the InVenture Prize last night?
It started with 560 students last October, culminated in a combination of Shark Tank and American Idol last night. The teams and their inventions were incredibly impressive. I think you’ll see some of those kids on this stage in a few years.
The Inventure Prize: this is what happens when you have a scary smart student body and you challenge them to invent something useful. They’ll blow you away.
So… welcome to Tech Square: Look around outside! We’re at the center of an innovation ecosystem that didn’t exist ten years ago. This is what happens when you have a public university investing a good fraction of a billion dollars in a public-private partnership to rebuild a blighted area of our city. This is the good stuff you get for your tax dollars, and I thank you!
And welcome to ATDC! You’ve seen the Showcase down the hall. You just saw three great graduates — including Pindrop, which has checked the box on every startup support program we have, from mentoring to incubation to direct investment. This is what happens when you have a Top Ten engineering school with a 100-year commitment to economic development.
We’ve attracted billions of dollars in investment capital. We’ve helped create billions of dollars of shareholder value in these companies. And incidentally, for those who say Atlanta is a real estate town, we’ve helped create billions of dollars in real estate value in Midtown Atlanta.
Tech Square’s energy has started to attract corporate innovation centers – AT&T, Panasonic, ThyssenKrupp, GE, NCR… and one more brand name to be announced very soon. In opening the AT&T Foundry last fall, Ralph de la Vega summed it up best.
“When we locate a Foundry facility, our number one criterion is to be part of an ecosystem that fosters innovation, which usually occurs at the intersection of premier education, high technology, and an entrepreneurial mindset.”
That’s Georgia Tech, that’s Technology Square, and that’s ATDC.
I want to close by reading the last paragraph of a brand-new report on Innovation Universities that I’ll blog about next week:
One of the more heartening aspects of the Georgia Tech story is that the institution has largely stayed true to the aspirations of the founders back in the 19th century. Those aspirations were to develop a first class technological university, one that combined excellence in academic education with a hand ‘in the shop,’ and one that enabled Georgia to create a modern economy. All those things have been achieved and the bar continues to be raised as its impact is felt throughout the world. Georgia Tech is one of the great American stories [of how] sustained inspired leadership, diligence in execution, and an ever-expanding vision and culture can accomplish amazing things.
Indeed, this is an amazing place, and my staff and I are honored to be part of it.
Congratulations to MessageGears, Pindrop Security and SalesLoft!
And on behalf of ATDC and of Georgia Tech, we thank all of you for attending. See you next year!