Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the CEOs of 10 of Atlanta’s leading corporations today jointly announced the launch of Engage, a mentorship-driven accelerator program and venture fund.

According to a media releases, the Atlanta-based Engage accelerator is open to startups across the country, with a focus placed on mentoring and market access strategies. Applications will be available in early 2017, with programming scheduled to begin in the spring. Up to 48 startups could go through the program in the first three years.

The founding companies contributing capital, expertise, time and resources in support of Engage include AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco Ltd., The Home Depot and UPS. Executives from these firms will serve as mentors to the companies receiving financial support from Engage.

Reed proposed the fund following his 2013 visit to Silicon Valley, where he met with venture capital funders and tech sector entrepreneurs.

“Atlanta is the Southeast’s technology, innovation and entrepreneurship capital, with the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the country,” said Reed. “We must take advantage of these unique assets to further stimulate our growing ecosystem of start-ups and growth-stage companies, connecting them to capital, talent and mentorship. This new venture fund and accelerator program will offer an unmatched opportunity for entrepreneurs in Atlanta and the region, and I am confident its success will lead to greater interest and investment in our emerging technology companies.”

The 10 corporations have committed a total of $15 million to the venture fund and will actively support the accelerator through mentoring, education and collaboration. Engage will offer programming and other services through its affiliation with the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), which was established at Georgia Tech by the state of Georgia in 1980 to launch and build technology companies.

Following the trip to Silicon Valley, Reed asked for the support of the Atlanta Committee for Progress (ACP), a coalition of leading CEOs and university presidents which supports important mayoral initiatives. The ACP focuses on critical issues facing the city, and one of its key priorities is furthering Atlanta’s development as a leading technology hub with increased access to funding for startups in the area. In addition to getting direct support from the founding companies, Engage entrepreneurs will be connected to more than 30 companies that are ACP members.

For more information about Engage, visit www.engage.vc.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.