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Emory partners with City of Atlanta to strengthen technology ecosystem
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Ashlee Gardner
ACES group photo

Joe Sutherland (left) pictured with other members of the Atlanta Collegiate Entrepreneurship Syndicate (ACES).

— Kole World Productions

Emory University has joined a consortium of local universities that will help the City of Atlanta’s Office of Technology and Innovation define metrics that signal a robust technology ecosystem and implement initiatives to grow that ecosystem. Through its AI.Humanity initiative, the university will play a key role in using artificial intelligence (AI) to enable entrepreneurship and pave the way to making Atlanta one of the top five technology hubs in the country.

Co-led by Donnie Beamer (the City of Atlanta’s senior technology advisor), Joe Sutherland (director of the Center for AI Learning at Emory) and Michael Dixon (director of operations in the Office of Commercialization at Georgia Tech), the Atlanta Collegiate Entrepreneurship Syndicate (ACES) includes Clark Atlanta University, Emory University, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College.  

“Our participation in this consortium is aligned with President Fenves’ One Emory: Ambition and Heart strategic framework and is an important part of our mission at the Center for AI Learning. Community partnerships and collaborations with local government, nonprofits and other universities will provide rich opportunities for Emory students to apply AI to some of the most critical challenges facing metro Atlanta, such as income disparity, affordable housing and food insecurity,” says Sutherland.  

In partnership with the Atlanta Tech Hub and as part of ACES, the Center for AI Learning, along with internal partners The Hatchery Center for Innovation and the Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, will supply talent, training and support for AI-related research projects. Two projects are already underway and open to Emory undergraduate and graduate students interested in helping the city achieve its technology entrepreneurship goals. Students can sign up to join the ongoing and future projects.

ACES was announced during a program to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the City of Atlanta’s Office of Technology and Innovation on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. Event speakers included Donnie Beamer (right) and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens (third from right).

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The first project is a chatbot built by Emory students that will direct entrepreneurs to resources including training, venture capital and mentorship. Emory students are also working with Georgia Tech and the Boston Consulting Group on a measurement plan and machine learning-based forecast for startup resources and growth in Atlanta.

“Linking our students to ACES and the City of Atlanta will open doors to internships, capital for startups, employment opportunities and most importantly, the chance to do something that positively impacts our community,” says Sutherland. “For the city, Emory is producing top AI talent — a workforce that is engaged and ready to thrive in Atlanta’s tech ecosystem.”

“We are excited to connect our most innovative local resources, academic institutions and scholars — like those at Emory — to propel Atlanta’s tech ecosystem into a phase of unprecedented growth,” says Beamer. “Collectively, we are dedicated to building an environment where emerging tech entrepreneurs have equitable pathways to start, scale and grow their business ventures. The City of Atlanta stands as the unique place where this journey can unfold.”

Launched in 2023 as part of Emory’s AI.Humanity initiative — a university-wide initiative to advance AI in service to humanity — the Center for AI Learning serves as a community hub for AI literacy and collaboration. The Center facilitates interdisciplinary research, experiential learning and community leadership in AI, bringing Emory students, scholars and staff together with a global community of partners.

To learn more about the Center for AI Learning and how to get involved in ACES, contact Joe Sutherland.

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