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Alabama Innovation Commission issues four interim policy recommendations to ‘expand the state’s economic growth and create opportunities’

The Alabama Innovation Commission on Thursday released its interim report detailing the commission’s progress and momentum, as well as outlining four interim policy recommendations.

Also known as Innovate Alabama, the commission was created by Governor Kay Ivey in July 2020 as Alabama’s first statewide commission focused on innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. The commission brings together private sector experts and state policymakers to develop forward-thinking policies to create a more resilient, inclusive and robust 21st-century economy.

The recommendations unveiled Thursday are as follows:

  • Develop a statewide innovation coordination and incentive structure to generate additional, successful business growth.
  • Provide for a private fund adviser exemption to encourage early-stage formation of private venture capital funds.
  • Fund and launch an Alabama branding campaign to develop our state as a destination place to grow.
  • Use Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) matching funds through a state program that would potentially match existing funding.

These recommendations came after the commission and its Advisory Council have held a series of meetings and generated more than 45 ideas to help elevate innovation and create forward-thinking policies and initiatives.

State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) serves as chair of the commission and incoming Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) serves as vice chair, overseeing the commission’s 15 members. Zeke Smith, Alabama Power Company’s executive vice president of External Affairs, serves as president of the advisory council — a group of innovation experts from within the state and across the nation who have ties to Alabama, such as former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“I am pleased with the progress of the Alabama Innovation Commission and look forward to continuing to work together to create smart solutions that expand the state’s economic growth and create opportunities for those wanting to start and grow a business in Alabama,” Poole said in a statement.

“While there is still much work to be done, the interim ideas and recommendations already set forth show how the work of this commission will have a positive impact on the state,” he added.

“Alabama has always had a strong foundation of innovation, and the work of the commission is highlighting the potential our state has for growth in becoming a leader in technology and entrepreneurship,” Reed remarked. “As our state continues to adapt and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission’s ideas and recommendations will play a role in ensuring that our state has a competitive economic edge moving forward.”

The interim report also shares an update on the commission’s partnership with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, which is led by Rice. Through this partnership, the commission and the Hoover Institution will help develop data-supported, well-researched and innovative policy solutions to support the growth of Alabama’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“The collaboration and meaningful discussions of the commission and the advisory council have been extremely insightful and productive,” Smith stated.

“Through partnerships with the Hoover Institution and momentum already created with the commission’s interim report, I look forward to continuing these efforts in 2021 as we work toward developing solutions that will create success and opportunity across the state,” he concluded.

The next full commission meeting is scheduled for March 15.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn