September 21, 2020


Lieutenant Governor Endorses Efforts to Establish Georgia as the Technology Capital of the East Coast 


Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced the official launch of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private partnership created to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the Technology Capital of the East Coast. 

This goal was set by the lieutenant governor at the start of his term, and the corresponding efforts will establish the state as a national leader in technology research, development and implementation – ultimately encouraging growth, entrepreneurship and innovation across Georgia. The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation will build on the important foundational work of the Georgia Innovates Taskforce, which was convened by Lt. Gov. Duncan in January 2020 and provided final recommendations last month to accelerate Georgia’s path towards achieving this goal.

“As we shape the future of Georgia, we must prioritize innovation improvements and technology advancement across the state,” said Lt. Gov. Duncan. “With guidance and advocacy from the incredible leaders who comprise the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, I am confident Georgia will institute an impressive entrepreneurial identity as the Technology Capital of the East Coast.” 

Under the leadership of board chair Dr. G.P. “Bud” Peterson, president emeritus of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Debra Lam, the executive director of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, the organization will implement recommendations outlined by the Georgia Innovates Taskforce, which support foundational, transformational and sustaining work and development throughout the state:

  • Foundational: Providing access to digital resources and education.
  • Transformational: Advancing agriculture, food system innovation, venture capital growth, lab-to-market tech transfer and more.
  • Sustaining: Ensuring the resources, access and opportunities created are sustained through coordinated and ongoing public-private partnerships.

These key themes follow the Taskforce’s guiding principles of inclusive innovation – connectedness, diversity, identity, sustainability and talent. The resulting work will build on Georgia’s already strong foundation, leveraging tremendous technology infrastructure and leadership, as well as the diverse economic, geographic and demographic energy of our state to execute this important initiative.

Advancement efforts will include a series of high-impact, low-cost pilot programs – including K-12 Digital Readiness, Advanced Food Supply Innovation and Regional Industry/Education Collaboratives. The first set of pilots was recently announced by the Georgia Smart Community Challenge, including:  

  • Civic Data Science for Equitable Development, Savannah – The city of Savannah plans to build new decision-making tools using a city data hub and analytics platform for programmatic outcomes for vacant and blighted properties. 
  • Traffic Monitoring and Communication System, Valdosta – This project includes the development of a smart traffic management system that will connect all 128 traffic signals in Valdosta for increased safety and efficiency. 

More pilots will begin in the coming months, and a framework will be created to evaluate and select additional pilot proposals. The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation will work closely with local governments, startups, nonprofits and the pilot managers to scale and institutionalize each pilot after its trial period. 

“Our efforts will bring access and opportunity to all Georgians, transforming entrepreneurship in our state for decades to come. I look forward to witnessing the innovation and progress we will achieve together,” said Dr. Peterson.  

The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation has a board of established leaders throughout Georgia, united by their vision to advance Georgia and commitment to helping drive the long-term success of the organization. Additionally, Georgia Tech and notable Georgia-based companies, including Georgia Power, Jabian, Jackson Spalding and Kilpatrick Townsend, have provided counsel to the Georgia Innovates Taskforce and will continue to support the efforts of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation. Funding for the partnership will be split between the private and public sector. 

“Through collaboration between industry and education, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation has the potential to transform our entire state and the lives of its citizens,” said Ángel Cabrera, president of Georgia Tech. “We at Georgia Tech are honored to help Georgia maximize inclusive innovation throughout our state.” 


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September 2, 2020

Atlanta influences everything, the saying goes, and racial and gender equity in startups is no exception. Atlanta is home to the largest pitch event for underrepresented founders, Startup Runway, which is closing the equity gap by introducing unrepresented founders to their first investor. 

This semi-annual event competitively selects high-potential startups to receive mentorship, get investor introductions, and pitch for a chance to win $10,000 non-dilutive grants.

This month’s event takes place on September 9th and will feature general partners and managing directors of VC firms such as Valor Ventures, Boeing HorizonX, Bull City Venture Partners, TiE Angles, and more alongside speakers from Crunchbase, The Gathering Spot, HBCUvc and more.

There is no doubt that a large funding gap for founders of color and female founders exists, and Atlanta is home to many of these founders. In fact, less than 5% of venture capital dollars are allocated to these founders, which is why they are “underrepresented” in venture capital. In Atlanta, founders of color and women together are the majority of founders in our ecosystem, but are not consistently invited to participate in this economy. 

Startup Runway invites these underrepresented founders to participate in the venture and angel economy by introducing them to their first investor. To date, finalists have raised over $20 million in venture capital funding, tipping the scale towards equality. And 1 in 3 finalists have been backed by an investor within 6 months of the event. Startup Runway instills confidence in its Finalists and provides them with mentorship and tools for success, helping them better navigate the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

You can find more information or register for the upcoming showcase. If you are a founder interested in applying for an upcoming showcase, you can find information here.