Home Feature Georgia Tech launches new program to grow more sustainability-focused startups

Georgia Tech launches new program to grow more sustainability-focused startups

by Maija Ehlinger

Atlanta’s next big startup success could be a sustainability-focused venture, thanks in part to a new entrepreneurial program at Georgia Tech. 

Late last year the university announced the launch of Sustainable-X, a program born from the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, Create-X, and Sustainability Next (Georgia Tech’s climate-focused strategic planning initiatives).

The goal of the program is to help “sustainability-focused startups or startups that have sustainability as a big component of the overall footprint,” said Karthik Ramachandran, professor and Sustainable-X’s co-director. “It’s not just thinking about sustainability as a ‘do good’ initiative, but also as a business that can be modeled and optimized like any other business.”

The program will help students and community members find new business models that are simultaneously profitable and sustainable. 

“[We’re] also giving people tools [and] space so that they can see themselves as agents of change, as system designers, as people that can have the entrepreneurial confidence to engage with problems that they’re passionate about and and actively try to solve them,” added co-director Andre Calmon.

Photo from Georgia Tech website

Twenty-two people participated in 2022’s Sustainable-X’s bootcamp on campus. Those involved are working on a variety of sustainable-focused startup ideas around water management, food waste, renewable energies, and STEM education.  

Participants will spend the next several months refining their idea into a prototype and preparing to pitch alongside the wider Create-X community this March during their showcase for investors and supporters. 

Growing Create-X’s Legacy 

Georgia Tech’s Create-X program, which started in 2014, has helped students launch hundreds of startups with a total valuation of over $1.4 billion. It was the launching pad for unicorn supply chain company Stord and helped several growing startups like Crescendo, EyeGage, and Grubbly Farms gain traction early on.

Create-X had a record 100 teams go through the program last summer alone. 

While Sustainable-X is the first industry vertical specific program to emerge out of the Create-X ecosystem, the team behind the program is confident it can help grow the next generation of sustainable-conscious companies in the city.

And Sustainable-X teams won’t have to look too far for inspiration. Atlanta is a growing hub for renewable energy, battery innovation, and sustainable food development over the last few years. Startups like cove.tool, Emrgy, Goodr, Solar Inventions, 4Earth, and Joulea are all homegrown startups tackling unique sustainability and climate challenges. 

“I think there’s this dream that a lot of us have that Atlanta can become the center of an ecosystem of social and environmental impact and innovation,” Calmon told Hypepotamus. “I think in many ways it is Atlanta’s destiny.”



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