Startup Accelerator ATDC Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Georgia Tech’s startup accelerator, the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), celebrated 30 years of helping launch and build technology companies with a “Startup Showcase” attended by more than 500 persons on May 24th.  At the event, ATDC added four companies to its long list of graduates.

Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson was the main speaker, reviewing the ATDC’s history and congratulating members of the Committee of Twenty – Georgia Tech alumni whose interest in technology startups during the late 1970s led to formation of the incubator.

“It’s really a pleasure to be here to celebrate this 30-year anniversary and to be able to reflect back on some of the great successes of the ATDC,” Peterson told a crowd of entrepreneurs assembled in the ballroom of the Georgia Tech Hotel.  “There are many, many positive things that have resulted from this organization and its interaction with people in this community, the greater Atlanta area, the state of Georgia – and all across the country.”

Stephen Fleming, Georgia Tech vice president and executive director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, reviewed progress made by the ATDC in expanding membership and increasing program offerings over the past year

“If you are a Georgia technology entrepreneur, we will help you no matter where you are located in the state or what your background is,” he said.  “In addition to our brick-and-mortar facilities in Atlanta and Savannah, we are spreading across the rest of the state, which is part of our mandate.”

Nearly a year ago, ATDC opened its membership to all technology companies in Georgia.  On the day of the Showcase, ATDC had 321 members.  “That makes us the largest technology incubator, as far as I know, in the world,” Fleming added.

The startup accelerator still focuses on companies that are developing new technologies, but no longer emphasizes raising venture capital.  That’s because many entrepreneurs are now bootstrapping their operations or have independent sources of funding, Fleming said.

Even with the incubator’s reduced fund-raising focus and the down economy, ATDC companies still raised a total of at least $150 million in venture capital during the past year, Fleming said.

ATDC is also expanding the geographic breadth of its operations beyond its physical incubators in Atlanta and Savannah.  At the Showcase, Fleming announced that ATDC would begin offering educational programs in Gwinnett County, along with regular office hours to meet entrepreneurs – though there are no current plans to provide incubator space there.

He also noted that ATDC has resumed its focus on biosciences companies with the hiring of two staff members – Nina Sawczuk and Harold Shlevin – both with long experience in the life sciences industry.

Fleming congratulated representatives from four companies that had met requirements for graduating from the incubator.  The four – CommerceV3, Endgame Systems, Izenda Reports and Purewire – joined 120 other companies on a list of ATDC graduates that goes back to 1986.

President Peterson took note of ATDC’s best known graduate: Suniva, which became the Southeast’s first manufacturer of photovoltaic cells in 2009.  The firm grew out of research in Georgia Tech’s University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaics Research and Education, which is part of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Suniva has created more than 150 clean-energy jobs manufacturing high-efficiency solar cells,” Peterson noted.  The company was recently recognized by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who called it “the poster child for the new energy economy.”

About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a startup accelerator that helps Georgia technology entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies.  For 30 years, ATDC has helped create millions of dollars in tax revenues by graduating more than 120 companies, which together have raised more than a billion dollars in outside financing.  ATDC has provided business incubation and acceleration services to thousands of Georgia entrepreneurs.

Recently, ATDC expanded its mission by merging with Georgia Tech’s VentureLab and with the Georgia SBIR Assistance Program, which are also part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.  This change has enabled ATDC to greatly extend its reach to serve more technology companies along multiple growth paths and at all stages of development.  ATDC has opened its membership to all technology entrepreneurs in Georgia, from those at the earliest conception stage to the well-established, venture-fundable companies.

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

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Writer: John Toon