Atlanta has all the makings for a successful world class innovation hub, right here in our own backyard.

The Atlanta metro area headquarters the 3rd highest concentration of Fortune 500 global companies, industry leaders such as Coca Cola, Home Depot, Newell Rubbermaid, UPS and Cox Enterprises. 192 of the nation’s fastest growing private enterprises also call Atlanta home. We house vast creative talent, including Turner Broadcasting, Tyler Perry Productions and So-So Def Recordings. Our own InterContinentalExchange is even poised to buy the New York Stock Exchange by the end of this year.

Opportunity lives here.

Our young talent knows it: we lead the nation in recruiting and retaining college educated young professionals.  We continually grow our support structures, for example –the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) located at Georgia Tech is considered one of the top 10 incubators in the world. From a transportation and logistics standpoint, we are the hub of the southeast and boast the world’s busiest passenger airport. Not only do goods flow through the heart of our city – so do ideas. Atlanta is ranked among the top U.S. cities in nearly every major measure or consideration for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Yet in addition to these achievements, we also face challenges that can best be solved by partnerships between government, companies and universities.  But forging these partnerships presents its own challenges.

Silos in authority, ownership, resources, and even competitive advantages create barriers to partnership and innovation. Instead of sharing ideas that can lead to breakthrough solutions, we often hoard them. Competitive spirits combined with established structures block collaborations that could bolster our region. And despite our notable successes, when we limit collaboration, our most ambitious opportunities remain unrealized.

Imagine the impact of business, government and universities communicating, innovating, and collaborating  seamlessly. Picture our collective success when we begin to collaborate with common goals, sharing more information and resources.

Atlanta is home to thousands of entrepreneurs, yet we still condemn failure instead of supporting risk-taking. How do we change our culture to celebrate a “try, fail, try again” approach?

Atlanta is home to 1,000 startups each year, yet Georgia remains adverse to government seed funding. How do we generate more engagement with our government?

Atlanta is home to world-class educational, research and nonprofit organizations. How do we close the gaps between research and local industry needs?

Answers to these challenges will come from creating connections.  Some of Atlanta’s best collaborative efforts such as Emory and Georgia Tech’s bioscience community, and Junior Achievement’s Discovery Center had a simple beginning: a thought on how to solve a problem, a thought that was shared across organizations and sectors in simple conversations. A thought that brought together business, education and government to create a new realm of opportunity for Atlanta.

If we foster greater partnerships between all three sectors – businesses, universities and governments — we will forge a greater legacy for our city.  Knowing what we are capable of in our own lives and professions, imagine what we could create when we cross divides, make new connections, work together?

What can you do today to foster partnerships that drive innovation and entrepreneurship in Atlanta?

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