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Alabama Innovation Commission Launches To Spark Tech Entrepreneurship

by Maija Ehlinger

When founders are looking for a place to call “home” for their businesses, they are often searching for places that offer both a strong employee talent pool and business-friendly policies. 

In order to help new businesses put down roots in the state, and keep existing startup ventures growing, Alabama has launched Alabama Innovation Commission.

Governor Kay Ivey launched the commission, known as Innovate Alabama, earlier in the summer. It is the first statewide initiative to drive innovation and change policies to make Alabama a technology hub and business leader. 

“Alabama has always had a rich tradition of developing technologies to move our state forward,” Ivey said in a statement. “Now more than ever, we must capitalize on future opportunities by engaging our state’s trailblazers to discuss new ideas and policies that support entrepreneurship, economic development and jobs.”

Governor Ivey spoke about the need for such an initiative in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. “As Alabama continues to respond to COVID-19, I have been so proud of the resilient spirit seen across our state,” Ivey said during a video statement about the initiative’s launch. 

“But we also know that a crisis often fuels innovation and growth,” Ivey continued. 

Not only will the initiative look to build tech accelerators and improve public and private partnerships, it will also present a “comprehensive innovation policy agenda” to the Governor’s office. 

This is just the latest step the state has taken towards attracting and retaining tech talent. Last May the state senate passed the Alabama Incentives Modernization Act, aimed at providing opportunities to often overlooked counties.

Many outside Alabama may be familiar with its military, automobile and aerospace industries in the northern half of the state near Huntsville, or its strong biomedical programs at universities like the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB). Alabama is home to seven universities with engineering degree tracks and already has over 600 biotech companies headquartered across the state. 

Several well-known Alabamans, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Twitter executive Chris Moody, are set to serve as advisors to the commission. In a written statement, Dr. Rice commented on the importance of promoting homegrown tech talent to keep the state’s economy growing. 

“Alabama is home to me,” Dr. Rice said. “While our country currently faces many challenges, this is an opportunity to create forward-thinking ideas and policies that will inspire the next generation of innovators. By focusing on knowledge-based skills and education, technology growth and entrepreneurship, we unlock the potential for future success across the state.”

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