The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia’s technology incubator, officially launched its retail technology (RetailTech) program July 26 with an all-star, in-depth panel discussion about the industry’s challenges and how innovative entrepreneurs can help bring positive change to the sector, which supports one out of every four jobs in the United States.
The “Retail Revolution Panel Discussion,” which drew nearly 70 attendees, featured Bill Blackstone of Blackstone Solutions, Anthony Gregario, Home Depot’s senior manager of innovation, Chris Lydle, Google’s global lead of digital signage and kiosks, and James Yancey, CEO of ATDC Signature company CloudTags.
The event follows the May 2017 announcement that ATDC, a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, would launch a RetailTech initiative for entrepreneurs focused on retail-related technology.
That effort is being funded via a $1 million gift from the Mookerji Foundation to the Georgia Tech Foundation. The Atlanta-based Mookerji Foundation is dedicated to nurturing and enabling entrepreneurs in metro Atlanta.
The gift will fully fund the retail technology startup initiative for the next five years and support a retail technology expert who will serve as an entrepreneur-in-residence to mentor the startups and offer expertise relating to the field of entrepreneurship.
The U.S. retail sector, which is comprised of more than 3.7 million establishments, supports about 42 million jobs with a $2.6 trillion impact on the economy, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the industry’s chief trade group.
In Georgia, the retail industry supports 1.2 million jobs, includes more than 120,000 establishments, and adds $75.6 billion a year to the Peach State’s economy, NRF data show.
While ATDC supports technology-based startups across various sectors, the RetailTech initiative is one of three industry verticals that have been formalized to better align resources to address specific challenges entrepreneurs and startups face.
ATDC has a financial technology (FinTech) program funded via a $1 million gift to Georgia Tech in 2015 from Worldpay US, the global payments technology services company.
The incubator also runs the ATDC Advanced Manufacturing Program, which is focused on helping entrepreneurs in Georgia launch and scale technology companies that make physical products.