The good news just keeps coming for Alabama’s tech industry.
On Monday morning, elected officials, education leaders and business juggernauts attended a packed ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Invention to Innovation Center (I²C) on the campus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).
The I²C is a regional initiative designed to foster, promote and accelerate the commercialization of technology-based ventures through incubation, co-working, mentorship, funding and strategic support.
Governor Kay Ivey, leading Monday’s ceremony, said very simply that the new center is a “game-changer.”
“Today, we are celebrating a new era of innovation in the city of Huntsville and the entire state of Alabama. The Invention to Innovation Center creates the ideal environment to foster STEM-focused learning opportunities, collaboration and new business development,” she outlined in a statement.
Ivey concluded, “I look forward to seeing the many bright ideas produced at this remarkable facility for generations to come!”
I believe in the ingenuity of Alabamians! Proud to be at @UAHuntsville today to cut the ribbon on their Invention to Innovation Center. This will be a terrific catalyst for growth in this already booming area. pic.twitter.com/LsVo5B9yCu
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) June 10, 2019
Retiring UAH President Robert Altenkirch advised that the goal of the I²C is to increase the number of inventions that are developed into successful innovations, startup firms and growth initiatives.
“Success will be measured by (1) increased numbers of high-tech startups, (2) expansion opportunities for existing high-tech companies, and (3) diversification of the employment base to include more private sector jobs,” he said.
The three-story, 46,650-square-foot building – a world-class venture – is adjacent to UAH’s College of Business building with direct access provided on the second and third floors. It will also be within walking distance of the M. Louis Salmon Library, the Shelby Center for Science and Technology and the Engineering Building.
“The I²C space combines three interconnected elements: shared workspace, co-working community, and collaborative co-creation,” Rigved Joshi, who oversees strategy, programming, partnerships and day-to-day operations at the center, commented. “The I²C facility and programs will support entrepreneurs on building scalable, investable, high growth, technology focused businesses that will serve as catalysts for economic development and regional innovation.”
The three-pronged mission of the I²C focuses on:
- Stimulating growth of new and existing science and engineering high-tech companies
- Catalyzing formation of a resilient entrepreneurial ecosystem in the northern Alabama and south central Tennessee regions
- Building partnerships with various entrepreneurial ecosystems and hubs to create pathways that empower, ignite, and motivate the community to make ideas happen.
The I²C is expected to serve as the focal point for incubation, education and support for entrepreneurs across the 15-county region in northern Alabama and south central Tennessee.
A release from UAH emphasized that a number of individuals and groups played an important role in the construction and now the opening of the I²C, including Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the state of Alabama, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the UAH Foundation.
The university also singled out the work of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong, who were both in attendance on Monday.
This came after Huntsville was named the nation’s fourth-best city for career opportunities.
Alabama has recently been making major advances in its tech industry, including the state legislature’s passage of the Alabama Incentives Modernization (AIM) and a measure to make Alabama a leader in the emerging field of artificial intelligence (AI).
UAH will hope its new I²C has a similar impact to the Innovation Depot in Birmingham.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn