Conference Launches Initiative to Shape Georgia\'s Role in Future Media

FutureMedia Brings Together Industry and Universities

Private cloud computing. Augmented mobile reality. Immersive Internet. Unicasting. Exclusive films on Facebook. Hulu TV. Twitter valued at $1 billion. A year or so ago these phrases would have been alien. Today, they herald the future.

What do these trends suggest for the future of media companies around the world?

Renu Kulkarni doesn't know for sure, but she wants to "start the conversation" about the question -- and the role that Georgia will play in shaping the future of digital, social and multimedia. As head of the new FutureMedia Initiative at the Georgia Institute of Technology, she believes the Peach State is uniquely positioned to be both a global pioneer and innovator in helping define the future of media.

"With world-class university research, proven engineering and commercialization expertise, a successful community of entrepreneurs -- and leading digital media, communications and entertainment industries -- Georgia really does have what it will take to help chart the future of media," said Kulkarni, who joined Georgia Tech after a 20-year career in the high-tech industry, most recently serving as vice president for technology partnerships at communications giant Motorola.

The FutureMedia Initiative will kick off October 15 with a day-long conference aimed at encouraging dialogue about what Georgia needs to do to create an open innovation ecosystem for developing media of the future.

To be held at the Palomar Hotel adjacent to the Georgia Tech campus, the FutureMedia Conference (www.futuremediaga.com) will feature media visionaries, thought leaders from Georgia universities and industry -- and demonstrations of technologies already in the innovation pipeline from the startup and university research communities.

Among the speakers will be Chris Klaus, founder and CEO of Kaneva; Krishna Bharat, creator of Google News, and Ron Clark, founder of The Ron Clark Academy. The event will also include speakers from the University of Georgia's New Media Institute, the Savannah College of Art and Design, Emory University's Goizueta Business School, Georgia Tech's GVU Center and its School of Literature, Communication and Culture. Industry represented will include Cisco, Motorola, Turner Broadcasting, Music Intelligence Solutions, Noro-Moseley Partners and Chrysalis Ventures.

An afternoon session will provide demonstrations of university research, including innovative music technology, gesture navigation, augmented reality -- and advanced high-speed network and mobile technologies. As many as 60 startup companies are expected to demonstrate their new products and services.

Hosted by Georgia Tech, the event is sponsored by Turner Broadcasting. Partners include the Creative Coast Alliance, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Research Alliance, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta, the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia, the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Technology Association of Georgia, the Technology Executives Roundtable and Venture Atlanta 09.

Georgia has created an integrated innovation pipeline for developing new commercially-important technologies and moving them into the marketplace, noted Susan Shows, senior vice president at the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA). The GRA's VentureLab program has already spun off dozens of startups based on university research.

"Investments in Georgia's research universities are paying off in the formation of new companies that are creating the industries and jobs of the future," Shows said. "By bringing university-industry resources together, FutureMedia will accelerate our success in the media industries that will be important 5, 10 or 20 years from now."

Georgia Tech intends to play a strong role in expanding Georgia's media industry and startup infrastructure, said Georgia Tech Vice President Stephen Cross, who also serves as director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) -- where the FutureMedia Initiative is headquartered.

"What's unique about Georgia Tech is that we already have a number of fabulous thought leaders, researchers and scientists, companies and startups," he said. "Many of the pieces of the story are already well known, but we haven't integrated them yet into a common and mutually supportive story line. The plot is evolving quickly, but the ending is not yet clear. We intend to be the authors of a great ending and FutureMedia will help us do that."

More than a dozen Georgia Tech units are already developing digital media. The goal of FutureMedia, said Kulkarni, will be to expand the Institute's overall role.

"We want to make the pie larger for all without getting in the way of what is already going on," she explained. "The conference is meant to bring the community together to begin a dialogue. FutureMedia is something that has lots of opportunities for all of us if we work together."

What's the ultimate goal of FutureMedia?

"We envision physical and virtual places where all are invited to experiment, discover, create, commercialize and shape the future of media," Kulkarni explained. "We want to create a rich, open innovation ecosystem that will make Georgia a global pioneer in this field and provide a model not only for what we do in enabling the future, but also in how we do it."

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Media Relations Contacts: Kirk Englehardt (404-407-7280); E-mail: (kirk.englehardt@gtri.gatech.edu) or John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (jtoon@gatech.edu).

Writer: John Toon