ATL Tour Promotes Region’s Diversity And Innovation In Healthcare Technology

May 9, 2017

By Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President and Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine

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Last month, the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Bioscience Leadership Council launched the first ATL Tour – an event series spread across two days that sought to tell the story of Atlanta’s healthcare ecosystem and diversity in technology on a global stage. We invited innovation leaders from Silicon Valley to explore metro Atlanta’s extensive breadth of work happening in the healthcare and innovation sectors. And they were impressed with what they learned in just two days.

In my role at Morehouse School of Medicine, I recognize the significant talent matriculating through our universities and colleges. MSM, Georgia Tech, Emory, and others are working hard to produce students with the right skills and talent. We have this great, developing workforce in our city – it only seems to grow each year. Couple this talent pool with the ambition that drives growth across technology sectors based on thought leadership and ability, and you have all the ingredients to continue to define our region as the center for global health and the health IT capital of the U.S.

Though we are focusing on products and innovation, we understand that venture capital dollars follow cutting-edge technology. They need each other to thrive. The one goal we all share is the creation of more innovative products to solve the wide range of healthcare issues from access to care, the development of new remedies, new training for caregivers, and the benefits of cloud- and IoT-based tech. The need for funds to grow these initiatives within a collaborative environment is something the efforts of the ATL Tour is poised to initiate in a tangible way. Through the tour, our business and community leaders – and the wide-ranging diversity they represent – have made contacts with Silicon Valley tech leaders, creating partnerships and collaborations that will drive tomorrow’s innovations.

In addition to countless networking opportunities, the tour facilitated authentic dialogue about key issues impacting the innovation space. During the “Healthcare Innovation in the ATL,” panelists – Musheer Ahmed (Fraudscope), Theo Harvey (SynsorMed), Luciene Ide (Rimidi), Rostam Zafari (Ebola Detection Strips), and Todd Haedrich (athenahealth) – discussed the very real challenges of trying to create significant new products with limited funding options. The roundtable discussion “Diversity in Innovation” featured candid conversations that affirmed how cognitive diversity allows for everyone’s life experience to add value. Melissa Bader (Google), Allen Fox (Fox Public Affairs), Darlene Gillard (digitalundivided), and Charles Isbell (Georgia Tech) shared their unique perspectives on creating not only diversity, but also inclusion, across the innovation spectrum.

Jermaine Dupri, music mogul and entrepreneur, and Dr. Joycelyn Wilson, Georgia Tech visiting professor and hip hop scholar, chatted with ChooseATL’s Kate Atwood about the convergence of culture and technology during a laidback session at the Porsche Experience Center. The event brought together a cross-section of metro Atlanta’s diverse entrepreneurial core and generated dialogue around defining Atlanta’s identity and effectively projecting it to the world.

Like so much of what we do in metro Atlanta, the ATL Tour was a collaborative effort. Our sponsors included the top organizations of our region, such as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, ChooseATL, Delta Air Lines, Douglas County Economic Development Authority, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Aeon Global Health, Metro Atlanta Chamber, and the Morehouse School of Medicine. Thank you to each of them for helping us showcase the best of our region.

Georgia and the metro region has defined itself as the center for global health – and the ATL Tour told that story loud and proud. The collaborative spirit we saw at work during the tour – and everyday – among the innovation sector here and across the nation will continue to drive us forward. Let’s continue this work.