ATLANTA — Norfolk Southern Corp., one of the nation’s leading transportation companies, is making a significant commitment to Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to create a new initiative for entrepreneurs in sustainability-focused technology.
The ATDC Sustainability Technology Program will formally launch in January 2023. Atlanta-based Norfolk Southern’s gift will provide the initial funding to support the current and future sustainability-related startups in ATDC’s portfolio.
The gift of $750,000 will support the initiative for three years. It is the eighth industry-focused vertical of its kind at ATDC, including two others announced earlier in 2022 — one in robotics and automation, the other in supply chain logistics.
“Norfolk Southern and Georgia Tech are teaming up to support forward-thinking innovation around sustainability. Together, some of the brightest minds in Georgia and the business community can continue to make sustainable progress for our nation’s supply chain and economy,” said Josh Raglin, chief sustainability officer for Norfolk Southern.
The sponsorship furthers the company’s strategic goal of integrating sustainability into daily operations while helping its customers achieve their sustainability goals. “Through our collaboration with ATDC and the incubator’s sustainability vertical, we will join with students and entrepreneurs in the business of a better planet as they transform their revolutionary ideas into actionable and successful business models,” Raglin said.
The gift will support one-on-one coaching via a dedicated ATDC startup catalyst who will manage the sustainability vertical and work to build the pipeline of innovators from across Georgia who are in this space and scaling disruptive technologies to bring to the marketplace.
The funds also will support a sustainability-focused curriculum and other resources specialized to those entrepreneurs’ needs as they go from ideation to commercialization.
“ATDC has a history of supporting startups with sustainable tech innovations including Suniva, Emergy, and Quest Renewables,” said John Avery, ATDC director.
ATDC’s startup portfolio already includes 12 companies in the sustainability space, but Avery said there is a wider opportunity for Georgia entrepreneurs.
With Norfolk Southern’s sustainability focus, Georgia Tech’s research innovations in that area through centers such as the Strategic Energy Institute, and ATDC’s ability to leverage those resources and its record in scaling successful technology companies, Avery said Georgia is primed to grow that sector.
The state is home to 34 companies on the Fortune 1000 list, many of which have set their own sustainability goals. Fifteen of those companies are headquartered in Atlanta, which ranks third in the country for the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the city.
What’s more, sustainability innovations can have wider impact across a number of industries that are important to Georgia in addition to transportation and logistics, such as agriculture, and renewable energy, Avery said.
“With Norfolk Southern at the forefront of sustainability innovation and its support of our dedicated sustainability vertical at ATDC, we are doubling down on one of the biggest opportunities for startups and innovators today and pursuing a very important corporate and societal goal,” he said. “We can become a hub for all of these sustainability entrepreneurs and their innovations and grow this ecosystem in Georgia by helping to launch viable companies across the state.”
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