First-of-its-kind program connects high-growth startups with Fortune 500 companies
Engage, the first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation program and venture fund, celebrates five years of connecting startups with leading corporations. Engage, an affiliate program of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, combines strategic capital, a startup growth accelerator, Georgia Tech faculty and resources, and a collaborative network of leading global corporations to create a corporate innovation and startup go-to-market accelerator program that has rocketed the Southeast’s emergence as a leading tech hub. Marty Flanagan, president and CEO of Invesco, G.P. “Bud” Peterson, president emeritus of Georgia Tech, and Blake Patton, managing partner of Tech Square Ventures founded the program in 2017. They were joined by nine other founding corporations, including Delta Air Lines, Chik-fil-A, The Home Depot, and UPS.
“As one of the founding corporate partners of Engage, Invesco recognizes the tremendous impact entrepreneurs have on the U.S. economy, and we’re committed to working with the Engage corporate partners to empower their growth in the Southeast region,” said Flanagan. “Through working together with a diverse group of Engage startup founders, we have all benefited from shared innovation, insights into new technology, and invaluable learning opportunities. We look forward to continuing to shape and nurture the growing community of entrepreneurs in Atlanta.”
Since its founding, Engage has mentored and invested in 10 startup cohorts, a total of 75 companies. Its portfolio companies have inked 116 customer contracts signed with corporate partners. Engage startups have raised more than $2.7 billion in capital after graduating from the program and employ more than 3,000.
“Engage’s aim is to establish Atlanta and the Southeast as the best place in the country for enterprise-focused startups to do business,” said Patton. “Our partners have enabled us to build not only a startup growth accelerator but also an innovation platform that has accelerated corporate innovation and connectivity in the region and helped it to become a premier tech and innovation hub. We are proud that 29 of our startups are headquartered or have team members in Georgia.”
The Engage fund, managed by Tech Square Ventures, invests in companies selected for its Go-To-Market Program. That program, in partnership with Georgia Tech, combines education and one-of-a-kind access to help startups break through the barriers of selling to and partnering with large enterprises.
Engage’s Georgia Tech Faculty Council is comprised of subject matter experts who serve in areas including customer experience, data analytics, supply chain, future of work, and sustainability. They offer advice on which startups should be invited into a cohort and facilitate cross-corporate innovation activities.
“Without a doubt, Engage proves academia can play a significant role in bringing together startups and corporations for innovation,” Raghupathy Sivakumar, the Wayne J. Holman Chair professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the vice president of commercialization and chief commercialization officer for the Institute. “The Engage model of corporate partners, plus startups, plus academia is unparalleled in the country, if not the world. We are actively trying to elevate Engage to even further heights by investing in programs that heavily involve our faculty and students in its activities. We can’t wait to see Engage continue to scale and help propel Georgia Tech as one of the top entrepreneurial universities in the country.”
The support and networking of the Engage program has resulted in tremendous success for Engage companies. Highlights include:
- The Mom Project, a marketplace connecting enterprises with working mothers, reached 1 million mothers.
- Moth + Flame, a developer of virtual training technology, appeared on the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
- Cloverly, an application programming interface (API) that matches digital transactions to equivalent carbon removal, making transactions carbon neutral in real time.
- Verusen, an AI platform to harmonize materials data and predict inventory in manufacturing supply chains.
- MetaCX, a network that companies join to manage the expected value from their business, raised a round of $5.1 million, comprised of 14 angel investors, bringing the total capital raised by the company to $33.6 million.
Rachel Carpenter, co-founder and CEO of Intrinio, a financial technology company and member of the second cohort, would encourage startup leaders who get the chance to go through the Engage program.
“You will receive unprecedented access to some of the largest strategic institutions in the world. We were in one of the early cohorts, and we’re still connected with executives at Intercontinental Exchange, and Invesco, and Goldman Sachs,” she said. “There’s this deep spirit of collaboration. They don’t forget about you and your cohort overnight. They still know who you are, what your technology is, and sometimes years later they come back and re-open the door for you. So doing the program is not just a short-term value. It’s long-term relationships that you’re establishing.”
Despite the success of the last five years, Engage isn’t content to rest on its laurels. Engage looks to expand in the next five years – and beyond, Patton said, into new verticals, while continuing to support its growing portfolio of companies.
Engage is a first-of-its-kind innovation platform comprising category-leading corporations in the southeastern United States that have joined forces to support startups and build the future of enterprise. Engage is designed to promote innovation through a network of connections between startups, corporations, university researchers, and the venture community. Engage’s corporate partners include Chick-fil-A, The Coca-Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, The Home Depot, Honeywell Connected Enterprise, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Inspire Brands, Invesco, Invest Georgia, UPS, and Wellstar Health System. These corporate partners, along with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and Tech Square Ventures, provide tools, hands-on support and resources that help startups develop go-to-market strategies, open doors faster and transform strategies into action. For more information, visit engage.vc.