Editor’s note: This sponsored post was paid for by the USA-India Business Summit.
Atlanta is developing so many areas of technology industry specialization that it can be hard to pinpoint one or two that define the city. This so-called “Atlanta problem,” however, is an advantage for the 1st Global USA Business Forum, which will address multiple innovation clusters in one event, according to organizers.
Subtitled “Leveraging Opportunities in a Globally Digitalized Economy,” the Nov. 17-18 virtual forum will spotlight several of Atlanta’s technology clusters, including manufacturing, innovation, cybersecurity and supply chain. It will present opportunities for companies, universities and organizations to work together to promote innovation and further global business, said co-organizer John McIntyre, executive director of the Georgia Tech Center for International Business Education & Research, or GT-CIBER
The inaugural forum combines the 27th Georgia Tech Global Business Forum and the 12th USA India Business Summit (UIBS) to reach a wider international audience and speaker base, explained co-organizer Ani Agnihotri, program chairman of the UIBS. He added that the forum will present a “diversity of speakers in terms of countries, content and subjects, not siloed into one topic,” he said.
“We have grown up in terms of content and programming; why not play at the global level?” Mr. Agnihotri said of the Global USA Business Forum, which he expects to become an annual event. A private, not-for-profit organization by the same name plans to host other symposia throughout the year.
By bringing together “people who may not normally talk to each other” – academics, professionals and business executives – the forum will help to aggregate Atlanta’s strengths and simultaneously develop its multiple innovation clusters, Dr. McIntyre said.
A conference session on “The Future of Technologies” will address data centers, fintech, healthcare technologies and IT from regional, national and international perspectives and explore opportunities for collaboration among research and business.
Recent announcements in Atlanta by tech giants like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others setting up offices here contribute to the city’s burgeoning technology clusters, said Mr. Agnihotri.
“These things are game-changing,” he said.
He added that manufacturing technology has also accelerated exponentially, a trend to be explored in a session focused on artificial intelligence and automation as factors in manufacturing competitiveness.
Dev Ahuja, executive vice president and CFO of Atlanta-based aluminum manufacturer Novelis Inc., is the first keynote speaker at the forum who will discuss innovation in manufacturing, followed by a fireside chat on the same topic. CB Velayuthan, global managing director, strategic alliances at EQUINIX, will lead a panel session on Global Trends in Digital Infrastructure & Cyber Security.
Like other cities around the world, Atlanta has been developing its various innovation clusters for some time and is home to a growing number of corporate innovation centers, Dr. McIntyre noted.
“It’s a process of gestation; you have to have all the pieces,” he said, noting that a consultant previously assessed Atlanta as having all the elements for becoming a technology powerhouse except for a strong “bohemian index.” Regardless, Atlanta has already developed many globally significant “innovation districts,” Dr. McIntryre said.
Tech Square in Midtown powered by proximity to Georgia Tech, a healthcare corridor around Emory University, and Georgia State University’s central city where new areas of technology and research are developing, together comprise an innovation district that could rival others like the Oxford Road Corridor in Manchester, United Kingdom; Cambridge innovation centers in the UK and the U.S.; Harvard University innovation centers in Boston; St. Louis’s Cortex Innovation Community, and Raleigh-Durham‘s Research Triangle, he asserted.
The University of Georgia’s forestry, medicine, pharmaceutical and agricultural research concentrations could also form an innovation district, despite the 90-minute commute from Atlanta to Athens, Dr. McIntyre added.
“Is Atlanta’s model the future of innovation districts? There are plenty of such districts the world over, but the Atlanta way is a different way; it’s a style of ‘new localism’,” said Dr. McIntyre, referring to Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak’s book that highlights the power of cities to invest in innovation and development.
The future of innovation districts will be addressed at the 1st Global USA Business Forum by keynote speaker Philip Shapira, professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy and professor of management, innovation and policy with the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at the University of Manchester’s Alliance Manchester Business School.
The future of the workforce is also a major theme of the forum, especially as supply chains grapple with post-COVID employment challenges, Dr. McIntyre noted. The issue will be addressed by keynote speaker Victor McCrary, vice chair of the National Science Board and vice president of research and graduate programs at the University of the District of Columbia, who has written about how the U.S. should upscale and rescale talent at the factory level and in service jobs.
“The future of the workforce is particularly important, as industries have had to rethink their employment strategies to rescale and upscale since COVID. Up to 30 percent of companies in certain sectors shut down during the pandemic, and survivors are still not out of the woods,” Mr. Agnihotri noted.
Cybersecurity factors heavily into the conference, as the topic is a concern across all technology disciplines, plus it is the foundation of Georgia Tech’s newest academic division, the School of Cyber Security and Privacy, chaired by former College of Computing head Richard DeMillo. “There’s every reason in the world for us to focus on this theme,” Dr. McIntyre said.
The 1st Global USA Business Forum will be organized into a single track of sessions that all participants may attend, rather than two simultaneous tracks like last year’s virtual event, which drew some 200 attendees.
Featuring some 38 speakers, this year’s forum sessions are to include:
- manufacturing competitiveness and automation, post-COVID
- the future of the workforce
- the future of technologies – data centers, fintech, healthcare and IT
- cybersecurity and privacy
- innovation in therapeutics
- inclusive entrepreneurship and technology
- the impact of COVID-19 on global supply chains
- the global mobility of talent
These seven topics reflect areas of interest to the advancement of U.S. global business and competitiveness, areas of interest to Georgia and the Southern region, Georgia’s new technology clusters and Georgia Tech’s areas of expertise concentrated at Tech Square, Dr. McIntyre pointed out.
The 1st Global USA Business Forum will draw a mixed audience of executives, professionals, consultants, media, lawyers, students and academics, noted Mr. Agnihotri.
While this forum will be presented virtually, future conferences, including possible quarterly symposia, are planned as in-person events, he added.
“This timely forum is about creating partnerships and capitalizing on the mutuality of objectives – to foster innovation and increase competitiveness and success,” Dr. McIntyre said.