- The Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners, GA, situated just outside Atlanta, unveiled an incubator program this week that will support developers as they build new 5G technology use cases.
- Providing access to T-Mobile's 5G network, the 5G Connected Future incubator program will allow startups and entrepreneurs to build and test solutions like autonomous vehicles (AVs), drones and robotics. It is the latest initiative from the T-Mobile Accelerator, which started in 2014 in Kansas City, MO as a way to test innovations and bring them to market.
- Program participants will work directly with technology and business leaders at the T-Mobile Accelerator, Georgia Tech's Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and Curiosity Lab. The initiative offers networking, education and access to ATDC's research expertise and students to help evaluate and refine products.
The partnership between a city, private company and academic institution is unique, especially as one government entity — the City of Peachtree Corners — owns all the infrastructure, eliminating the need for multiple approvals across jurisdictions for its use, said Curiosity Lab Executive Director Betsy Plattenburg.
@PtreeCorners' @CuriosityLabPTC is partnering with @TMobile & @GeorgiaTech to create a #5G Connected Future #incubator program designed to support the growth and development of #entrepreneurs and #startups as they work to build the next big thing in 5G.https://t.co/9JyYxysbL6 pic.twitter.com/7iNMMfoXUL— Peachtree Corners GA (@PtreeCorners) February 17, 2021
The lab originally opened in 2019 in a 500-acre commercial office park, and includes a 1.5-mile AV test track and places to test other technologies. The park is also where over 8,000 people live and work, allowing the latest innovations to interact with the public.
Supporting new ways of moving people and goods is a 5G use case that particularly excites officials involved in the incubator, especially as a slew of startups around the country maneuver for dominance in the space and as more experts look to the possibilities of drone deliveries in cities.
Peachtree Corners has also been heavily involved in trialing new mobility. In May 2020, for example, micromobility firm Tortoise and scooter operator Go X piloted a teleoperated fleet in the city.
"There's a little bit of discovery to happen still about where the right sort of services of 5G can be brought to bear," ATDC Director John Avery said. Companies at various stages are able to apply for the program, which is not time-limited like startup accelerator programs, though Avery said they may experiment with an accelerator structure in the future.
The park has had 5G up and running since November 2019, enabling companies to test in a real world environment. With T-Mobile as a partner and its network deployed across the park, Avery said it will be a tremendous learning moment for the startups in the incubator.
"Having an opportunity for engineers at T-Mobile, who actually own and operate the network, be available to the startups to help them understand the details of how to use new features, and sometimes even tweak or modify the settings of those features so that they can activate their services, that's uniquely powerful and necessary for a company in this space to make any headway," he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of many innovations, Plattenburg said, including contactless payments and the use of AVs to deliver goods like medical supplies and food. As 5G adoption continues, she predicted those changes and innovations will continue to accelerate.
"The advent of 5G will make a similar, quick transformation in how people think about things and their willingness to make changes," Plattenburg said. "It's a really interesting time for this confluence of things...I think the pandemic has forced people to look at things differently and to look at innovation differently."