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March 22, 2019

Metro Atlanta Chamber Council Explores Innovation For All


Atlanta is a city built on innovation, from pioneering leadership through the Civil Rights Movement to the current technology foundation of the region. The Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Grow Leadership Council recently united figures from tech, sustainability, supply chain and more for a discussion around innovation for all.

Jimmy Etheredge, U.S. Southeast senior managing director with Accenture, opened the session with an introduction to the company’s new Atlanta Innovation Hub.

“It’s interesting to see the diversity around the room – of industry and sector, as well as age, gender, and race, among other things. We’ve got so many diverse backgrounds and so much to offer, the question becomes, ‘How do we have a conversation that includes everyone?’” Etheredge said.

Etheredge and Atlanta Innovation Hub Managing Director Jeffrey Sawyer described the new 30,000 sq. ft. space as a center for innovators of all backgrounds to come together – a place with “makers, artists and hackers under one roof.”

“We are all familiar with the multiplier effect when we are all connected,” Etheredge said. “It’s important for all of us here that this innovation is causing a positive impact for all of the people in Atlanta. Innovation can and should lead to opportunity for all.”

“The secret sauce for innovation is diversity,” Sawyer added.

The goal for Accenture’s Hub is to bring about impact with a genuine eye for diversity of thought and background built into the design of the space. Comprised of five co-creation areas dedicated to bringing together partners and Accenture teams, the space will be a one-stop shop inspiring partners around the region to challenge the status quo.

“People want to know what we do in the hub – it’s a journey with a destination,” Sawyer said.

If you want to learn more about the ATL Innovation Hub, email or visit their website.

The council welcomed Michael Britt, Energy Innovation Center vice president for the Southern Company, to the podium for an update on the IoT.ATL Living Labs initiative on the Atlanta BeltLine.

“Between 66-70 percent [of the population] will live in cities by 2050; thus, making sure cities work better is really important. Atlanta can accept more growth,” Britt said.  “Currently 128,000 residents in the City of Atlanta live in 36 USDA defined food desert areas – that’s something we need to address. How can Georgia Power work with the City of Atlanta to improve food accessibility by growing more, improving the supply chain and creating a new industry here?”

The inaugural IoT.ATL Living Lab focuses on AgTech, identifying scalable solutions and working to bring about urban resilient food systems. The Living Labs will allow startups to test their technology for 12 months along the BeltLine as part of the IoT.ATL AgTech Challenge. Winners will be announced in March – for more information, reach out to Cynthia Curry.

Rounding out the discussion, the council welcomed Point A Center for Supply Chain Innovation President Duriya Farooqi to talk about recent developments in the logistics ecosystem.  

“Atlanta’s history is grounded in logistics, from our highways to the airport to the port of Savannah. Transforming an industrial to a digital supply chain has been the goal of the Center,” Farooqi said.

What makes Point A unique in the broader industry is its commitment to bringing together organizations to share and work cooperatively and efficiently – uniting corporations, venture capital, universities, startups and nonprofits. The goal is to bring solutions offered by emerging technologies (robotics, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, etc.) to traditional supply chain challenges (traceability, last mile delivery, transparency, etc.)

“We want companies to come together and co-create solutions,” Farooqi said.

NCR Corporation Smart Service Product Management, Development & Delivery Vice President Michael Groesch closed the meeting, praising the combined efforts of organizations around the room at providing innovation that will change everyone’s quality of life for the better.

“We’re here for the folks – it’s about making people’s lives better, and we’re going to take that around the world,” Groesch said.

For more information on the Grow Leadership Council, please reach out to Makena Brown. For more information on the Chamber’s Economic Development work, please reach out to Emma McVey or visit for more.

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