Innovate Alabama traveling state to talk opportunities

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Board members of the Alabama Innovation Corporation, the state’s public-private partnership focused on entrepreneurship and job creation, met with local leaders at Stillman College this week.

Part of a series of regional discussions, Thursday’s conversation in Tuscaloosa focused on identifying ways to support locally made technology and help underrepresented students and entrepreneurs.

Earlier this month, Innovate Alabama leaders gathered in Athens, Alabama for their first regional roundtable. Another is planned in central Alabama and more will follow. The Alabama Innovation Corporation, known as Innovate Alabama, was created by the legislature in 2021 to “build a more resilient, inclusive, and robust economy.” The 11 members are appointed by the governor.

Bill Poole, Innovate board member and Alabama chief financial officer, said one of the goals of the discussions was to let communities know that “at the state level, we believe that promoting and creating opportunities and highlighting innovation, entrepreneurship, research and technology efforts are important.”

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Innovate Alabama members also hear about opportunities and challenges in different parts of the state.

“There are commonalities, but there are also a lot of differences,” Poole told the Alabama Daily News.

According to a press release, regional leaders in Tuscaloosa discussed common challenges they currently face, including retaining talent to meet labor demands and expanding capital and resources to support communities. rural and underrepresented.

“At Stillman, we recognize the importance of growing our region’s technology ecosystem to better support our students as future leaders of our state,” Stillman President Cynthia Warrick said in a written statement. “We also realize that to truly move Alabama forward, we need to accomplish this in an inclusive way by giving everyone, including underrepresented communities, a place at the table. Through cross-industry discussions, like this regional roundtable, we are well on our way to building a better Alabama together.

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The discussion highlighted BioGradMatch, a venture to help students at historically black colleges and universities overcome mental and logistical barriers to successfully apply to biomedical graduate programs. The tech startup is one of three Tuscaloosa companies that have been selected as recipients of the inaugural Innovate Alabama supplemental grant program.

Poole said regional conversations could lead to policy changes and more funding opportunities.

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“We have additional funds that we want to start prioritizing for opportunities to highlight and leverage technology innovation efforts…” Poole said. “I think there is room for a lot more development of these investments and these policies, but they must be informed by what is happening at the local level.

Innovate Alabama Vice President and Senate Pro Tem Chairman Greg Reed, R-Jasper, said the group hopes to build connections and foster collaboration among higher education leaders, legislators and entrepreneurs across the world. western Alabama.

“Through this roundtable, we hope these leaders will learn more about the similar challenges they face and identify synergies across sectors to help address them,” Reed said.


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