Microsoft and members of the tech startup scene in Georgia are celebrating the opening of Microsoft's latest Innovation Center in Atlanta today.
Located in the historic Flatiron building in downtown Atlanta, the facility will act as a hub for the company's outreach efforts to local communities, schools and technology startups. Microsoft Innovation Centers (MICs) offer access to training, technical resources and the company's software and technologies.
In total, the Redmond, Wash., technology giant helps maintains over 100 MICs across the globe to support entrepreneurship, improve education and help local workforces brush up on their technology skills.
Last year, Microsoft announced its first U.S.-based MIC located in Miami. "The center will be a state-of-the-art facility that offers a comprehensive set of technology, tools and services to startups, governments, students, faculty and the greater Miami community to help foster innovation, collaboration and economic growth," Sanket Akerkar, vice president of Developer and Platform Evangelism at Microsoft, said in a May 2, 2014 statement.
Now, Microsoft is setting its sights in a more northerly direction.
"We aim to foster innovation, collaboration and economic growth in local communities as an inherent piece of our culture and look forward to expanding our work in the Atlanta community," said Judson Althoff, president of North America at Microsoft, in a Dec. 15 statement. "The MIC will allow us to provide training and resources to thousands of members of the technology, education and business communities; help hundreds of businesses grow; and host countless learning and networking events."
The Atlanta MIC is part of Microsoft's smarter cities initiative called CityNext and represents an alliance between Microsoft and the city of Atlanta under the program. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed views the new MIC as a welcome addition to the area's startup culture, particularly for women seeking to establish a business.
"Ensuring that our entrepreneurs have the right tools and resources to start and grow their businesses is essential," he remarked in a statement. "The Microsoft Innovation Center will be a vital asset to our Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative and will empower entrepreneurs to create well-paying jobs and strengthen our economy." The city's Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative also is located in the Flatiron building, along with the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute and co-working spaces.
Microsoft has been steadily increasing its presence in the Atlanta area. Earlier this year, the company and data center operator Equinix announced an expansion of its ExpressRoute service to Office 365 customers in the region, among other major cities. ExpressRoute provides a high-speed, private connection to Microsoft cloud services for organizations seeking a secure alternative to transferring sensitive data over the public Internet.
On Oct. 14, Microsoft announced its plans to host its Ignite conference in Atlanta in late September 2016, after debuting this past May in Chicago. The business technology event massively streamlines an IT administrator's travel schedule by consolidating Microsoft's Management Summit, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project and TechEd conferences.