Microsoft to put "innovation center" in downtown's iconic Flatiron building

January 27,2015


Microsoft Corp. will put an "innovation center" in downtown's Flatiron building which is being transformed into an entrepreneurship hub.

The Microsoft centers provide resources and support for students, entrepreneurs and startups, accelerating the creation of new companies, jobs and growth of the local software ecosystem. The Atlanta location will be the second such center in the United States after Miami, and one of more than 100 worldwide.

"It's a place where you bring government, startups, academics and community together," Microsoft Business Evangelist Bradley Jensen said "It helps foster the growth within the city of an IT skill set, or pool of IT helps bridge the skills gap."

The Microsoft center will work closely with a new Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative, which will also be housed at the Flatiron building.

The 40,000 square foot Flatiron redevelopment, being led by real estate investor Arun Nijhawan, is billed as "next-generation" office space.

Nijhawan characterizes it as a "live, work, play" environment that would attract technology, digital media and advertising and design startups and entrepreneurs.

Microsoft will provide the Flatiron's tenants with a BizSpark subscription — free access to software and development platforms and programs, such as Azure. Microsoft will also provide tenants with mentoring, coaching and grants. The software company will also host events and speaker series.

For Microsoft, the innovation centers is also about market share growth. By encouraging entrepreneurs and companies to build their business on Microsoft software and development platforms, the company hopes to hook potential customers.

For Flatiron, the innovation center is a recruitment tool for technology and creative companies. The 118-year-old Flatiron building, at 74 Peachtree Street, is the center of what city officials hope will become a startup renaissance for downtown.

"At the end of the day we have to be able to differentiate ourselves from other (technology hubs)," Nijhawan said. "It's about how do we help put tenants grow their businesses and what types of amenities and services and infrastructure do we provide to do that."

The Flatiron redevelopment will include more than 36,000 square feet of collaborative workspace, and 5,600 square feet of boutique retail and entertainment space. Single desks and private suites would be rented on a monthly basis, giving tenants the flexibility to grow — or shrink — their office footprint as needed.

The Flatiron development will have three revenue streams — a food hall, individual work desks that can be leased month-to-month, and traditional office space with 5-to-10-year leases.