A Big Day in the Square

It's not often that one single day encapsulates the full story of what it means to live, work, and create in Tech Square, the heart of Atlanta's tech scene. Yet on April 13, five separate events converged to tell the story of the Southeast’s favorite innovation district.

First up, the Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) hosted its annual Industry Innovation Day,
a showcase which examines the transformative impact of emerging tools, platforms, and technologies. This year’s keynote speaker was Martin O’Malley, the tech-focused 2016 presidential candidate who previously served as the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland.

 Martin O'Malley presents his keynote remarks at IPaT's Industry Innovation Showcase 

Martin O'Malley presents his keynote remarks at IPaT's Industry Innovation Showcase 

Ever wonder what type of research can be found in the Tech Square Research Building? The doors opened for all to see at the GVU Center and Digital Media Research Showcase, where attendees engaged with 100 interactive research projects on human-computer interaction, mobile and ubiquitous computing, social computing, educational technologies, and more. The showcase-format allowed the audience to touch, control, and imagine just how technology will affect us into the future. (We’ve conducted interviews with several GVU labs – check out our Spotlight series to see more.)

 Researchers present interactive technology demos at the GVU Center and Digital Media Research Showcase

Researchers present interactive technology demos at the GVU Center and Digital Media Research Showcase

The Institute for Information Security and Privacy (IISP) Demo Day was the day’s first pitch competition. Each year at IISP’s Demo Day, student research teams compete in front of a panel of industry leaders and venture capitalists to determine which of their ideas could be commercialized into a successful product or service.   

"The Institute for Information Security & Privacy wants to move good ideas to market," Wenke Lee, co-director of IISP, said in an event recap. "We know industry leans on academic researchers to raise new ideas and we lean on industry to take solutions to the public.”

 Rob Callan, Farnaz Behrang, and mentors celebrate the team's first-place win at IISP's Demo Day  ( source )

Rob Callan, Farnaz Behrang, and mentors celebrate the team's first-place win at IISP's Demo Day (source)

The winning team took home $5,000 to dedicate to commercialization efforts. Georgia Tech's Rob Callan, a post-doctoral researcher, and Ph.D. Student Farnaz Behrang were the lucky pair, who presented “a method to monitor radio frequency emissions (‘electromagnetic emanations’) and help detect unwanted code or hijacks.”

University research is only one of dozens of reasons Tech Square ATL has become the heart of Atlanta’s tech scene. Entrepreneurship is another, and the day’s next event was designed with startups in mind. The GT Business Network hosted Kat Cole, Group President of Focus Brands, and Blake Patton, Managing Director of Tech Square Ventures, to give their advice on the most crucial part of the startup lifecycle: getting your company off the ground!

 Allen Nance of TechSquare Labs kicks off the second Atlanta Startup Battle on April 13, 2017

Allen Nance of TechSquare Labs kicks off the second Atlanta Startup Battle on April 13, 2017

For those entrepreneurs a little further along, the day capped off with the second-ever Atlanta Startup Battle, hosted by TechSquare Labs, Technology Association of Georgia, and Metro Atlanta Chamber. Each quarter, this startup coaching and pitch competition narrows down a pack of 100 ideas to award one special team $100,000 and a year of mentorship and co-working space at TechSquare Labs.

 Startup entrepreneurs pitched for a chance to win $100,000 at Atlanta Startup Battle 

Startup entrepreneurs pitched for a chance to win $100,000 at Atlanta Startup Battle 

It just so happens that the winner of last year’s IISP Demo Day, Dr. Musheer Ahmed, also took first place at the inaugural Atlanta Startup Battle. This year, the events were held the same day, but crowned different champions. Stay tuned for the next Atlanta Startup Battle on September 28, 2017.

On any given day in Tech Square, you'll witness determined entrepreneurs make stunning breakthroughs, see best-in-class research from some of the world's brightest minds, explore the intersection of technology and politics, and hear from industry experts on how to hack the most important stage of the startup lifecycle. On April 13, 2017, you had a chance to do all at once.