TAG event spotlights technology assets, opportunities in Peach State

TAGBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

I enjoy the opportunity to attend technology, innovation and entrepreneurship events around Tennessee and beyond to see how other communities or states showcase their assets, so I jumped at the chance to join one of my PYA colleagues at an event last Thursday in Atlanta.

Imagine a robot composing and playing music. That was just one of the highlights of the 17th annual “Georgia Technology Summit” that spotlighted many of the reasons our neighbor to the south is rated so highly on the national innovation scale.

Over the course of less than eight hours, the Peach State showcased its bright young technology companies as well as some of its more established and successful corporations and assets. There was even an announcement about a new accelerator from ComcastNBC Universal that will call Atlanta home.

The day reminded me of that old saying about having to fly through Atlanta on your way to heaven! The city truly remains a multi-disciplinary technology hotspot and an important connecting point for emerging companies.

So, what did I find so special? Let’s start with Shimon, a product of Georgia Tech. It’s a four-armed robot marimba player that is able to listen to music, improvise, and play along with human musicians. You needed to be there to truly appreciate the experience, but here’s a link that will help you better understand the uniqueness of the robot and the impact of technology innovation.

More than anything, Shimon underscored the critical role that a university plays in a vibrant, technology-focused ecosystem.

We were also captivated by Glenn Lurie, the luncheon keynote who serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Operations. A transplant who moved to the city 13 years ago and now heads the business unit formerly known as Cingular Wireless, he gave a humor-filled but very insightful presentation on mobility.

“We stopped calling places (i.e., someone’s home or work location) and started calling people,” Lurie said in describing the base from which the mobility business has grown. He compared that time not so long ago with today’s connected world, more frequently referred to as IoT or the Internet of Things.

“The smartphone is the remote control to your life,” Lurie observed. “The smartphone will stay central to your life.”

To illustrate just how significant mobile devices have become, he cited an amazing statistic – there has been a 250,000 percent increase in traffic on AT&T’s wireless system in just nine years.

According to Lurie, there are nine billion mobile devices connected today. That number is expected to reach 75 billion by 2025. As we have heard, everything will connect and communicate in some fashion.

“This (the evolution of IoT) is about making people’s lives better,” Lurie said. “It’s about these devices telling other devices what we want to do. We’re going to get to a place where these inanimate objects take care of us rather than us taking care of them.”

Just before his luncheon address, ComcastNBC Universal announced a new Atlanta-based accelerator. The new initiative, named The Farm Startup Accelerator, will be focused on mobility, connectivity, and communication companies. You can read more about it in a later article in today’s edition of

Also, to understand the scope and scale of the Georgia technology community, here’s a snapshot (TAG State of the Industry Brochure).

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