Atlanta is one of the country’s top 10 cities for innovation

by Claire Fountas

Skyline view of Downtown and Midtown Atlanta with ferris wheel from a rooftop bar and lounge

Many of the country’s metropolitan areas have begun to nurture innovation labs and other agents of technological advancement, including Atlanta. Because of the city’s attitude toward innovation and research, Innovation Leader Magazine named Atlanta as one of the top ten cities for innovation in a recent report.

The report took into account how many research and development firms each American city has, how many trend-setting companies have large networks in the area and the frequency of networking events. It also looked at startup density and how many top-tier universities are located in the area. Atlanta’s innovation hotspot and energetic student population earned it the sixth spot on the list.

Atlanta is well-known for being home to a variety of powerful companies such as Coca Cola and Home Depot. However, the city arguably didn’t dive into innovation until students and researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology began developing a plot of unused land near campus. This area — referred to as Tech Square — now houses more than fifteen different innovation labs, as well as a successful new fund known as Engage.

“At Tech Square, there’s an active student community organizing events, and a whole tech entrepreneur set of programs and activities,” Georgia Tech Associate Vice President for Economic Development Greg King said in the report. “Then, you’ve got the corporate innovation centers and the events they put on. Having Tech Square has created a focal point and the ability to convene people that didn’t exist before.”

The city’s older companies have helped spark the movement for a more close-knit relationship between major corporations and startups. In fact, almost 30 new companies have participated in Coca Cola’s The Bridge program, according to the report, which provides startups with marketing training, access to business mentors and connection to Coca-Cola business sponsors. Accelerators such as CivicX have also made their home in Atlanta, and companies such as Georgia-Pacific and Chick-fil-A hold innovation labs in the city.