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February 01, 2024 | Tom Ballard

New report for Atlanta has solid recommendations for other cities

The latest report from Boston Consulting Group identified four primary gaps in Atlanta's start-up ecosystem that must be addressed to deliver a step-change.

A new report from the Boston Consulting Group provides a roadmap for Atlanta “to generate a step-change in start-up activity and become a top 5 entrepreneurship powerhouse.” As we reviewed the report, we concluded that it provides a wealth of suggestions for other aspiring cities.

Titled “Leveling-up: Unlocking the Entrepreneurship Growth Potential for Atlanta,” the report identified four primary gaps in city’s entrepreneurship ecosystem that must be addressed to deliver a step-change. They are:

  • Increasing recognition as a desirable, internationally relevant city;
  • Facilitating commercialization coordination across Georgia’s system of higher education;
  • Scaling up infrastructure and throughput capabilities of the city’s network of incubators, accelerators, and venture capital funds; and
  • Targeting efforts to ensure equity of success for minority and women founders.

Noting that Atlanta is not the first city to face challenges like these in growing entrepreneurship, the authors of the report cite Miami, Austin, Philadelphia, and Chicago where leaders took action to realize their potential.

“Their work followed three key themes: (1) the push for rapid, scalable growth was led by a big swing rather than a set of incremental improvements; (2) the push was initiated and/or driven by a leader or body of leaders of the city (e.g., Mayor {Francis} Suarez of Miami, Chicago’s public & private leaders in P33); and (3) the push was done authentically, focusing on the city’s preexisting strengths. Closing the gaps in Atlanta’s innovation ecosystem requires a body or institution capable of coordinating a broad range of stakeholders across Atlanta, acting as a center of gravity for rapid entrepreneurship growth while protecting and strengthening the cultural identity of Atlanta.”

The report talked about all of the organizations that have provided entrepreneurial assistance, calling them “a constellation of organizations.” To move to the next level, however, and to amplify their individual impact with a center of gravity to bind them together, the authors recommend the creation of a public-private partnership named Start-up Mill that brings together stakeholders, funding, intellectual property, and talent to make decisions for the betterment of entrepreneurship.

“In the first ne to two years, the partnership can address Atlanta’s ecosystem gaps by prioritizing a flagship physical space, connecting local higher education institutions to jointly steer commercialization, and supporting efforts to secure and market a major, recurring cultural event held in Atlanta,” the authors write. “Setting a strong foundation in the first two years can allow for a ‘hockey-stick’ step-change in growth.”

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