Silicon of the South

Georgia Tech lab cultivates Atlanta’s high-tech building industry

East Technology
Georgia Tech lab cultivates Atlanta’s high-tech building industry (Courtesy Georgia Tech Digital Building Lab)
Georgia Tech lab cultivates Atlanta’s high-tech building industry (Courtesy Georgia Tech Digital Building Lab)

Georgia Tech‘s Digital Building Lab (DBL) is at the forefront of AEC industry applications of emerging technologies, thanks in large part to founder Chuck Eastman’s groundbreaking work in building information modeling (BIM). New DBL director Dennis Shelden is positioning the Lab and Atlanta as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the built environment technology sector by cultivating partnerships between academia and industry. On October 2-6, the DBL will participate in BuiltTech Week, a week of panel discussions, workshops, and new initiatives presented in partnership with Supernova South, the Southeast’s largest and longest-running tech conference, and BuiltTech.com

“Atlanta has all the ingredients necessary to become a leading center in high-tech applications to the built environment,” Shelden said. “Atlanta’s growth is driven by the intersection of technology development and real estate investment serving high tech.”  Examples of high-tech innovation abound, such as Tech Square at the edge of the Georgia Tech campus. Tech Square is home to numerous startups, entrepreneurship support programs such as ATDC, Venture Labs, The Garage and TechSquare Labs, as well as dozens of corporate incubators.

Shelden is not alone in his vision for industry transformation. Fellow Atlanta innovator, K.P. Reddy, is co-founder of The Combine and Shadow Ventures, a venture firm focused on seed investing in BuiltTech companies.  The Combine is an industry leading incubator that helps traditional building industry companies launch startups and is working with the Digital Building Lab to incubate a regional BuiltTech network. “We see the BuiltTech market as one of the emerging leaders in technology entrepreneurship” said Reddy.  Reddy will be leading the BuiltTech programming at Supernova South. 

Another BuiltTech Week collaborator is Dave Gilmore of DesignIntelligence. Prior to becoming the CEO of DesignIntelligence, Gilmore spent years in the technology worlds of Silicon Valley, Boston, and Tel Aviv, facilitating funding for startups and established firms to help their strategic growth. Gilmore said, “The industry is ripe for the sort of disruptive technology plays we’ve seen in other markets, and it’s exciting to see the local academic, research, commercial and government leadership coming together to tackle this opportunity.”

What are the future models of practice for architects, engineers, and builders? How will the existing organization of the design and construction industry evolve to capitalize on new opportunities? Will outside players disrupt entrenched AEC culture or will AEC leaders learn to become more like entrepreneurs?  Shelden, Reddy, Gilmore and the many innovators at DBL will be tackling these challenges head-on during #BuiltTechWEEK 2017, which convenes in Atlanta on October 2-6. This first-of-a-kind event focuses on built environment technology as an emerging high-tech market.

The inaugural #BuiltTech Week will culminate in Georgia Tech’s Digital Building Lab’s annual symposium on the theme of “AEC Entrepreneurship: Creating the High Tech Building Economy” on October 5-6, 2017 at The Historic Academy of Medicine at Georgia Tech. 

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