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Winners named in Alabama Launchpad’s latest startup competition finale

Two Birmingham startups were named as winners in Wednesday night’s Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition Finale held at the historic DeKalb Theatre in Fort Payne.

In the finale, six startups competed in one of two tracks – a concept stage for entrepreneurs launching businesses and a seed stage for entrepreneurs accelerating growth.

Winning the concept track, and a prize of $50,000, was AerBetic. AerBetic has developed a non-invasive, wearable alert sensor for managing diabetes. Co-founder and COO Eric Housh made the pitch that landed the $50,000 seed award.

The seed stage winner of the $100,000 prize was TriAltus Bioscience, which provides life scientists with improved tools for the production and purification of genetically engineered proteins. Co-founder and CEO Bob Shufflebarger made the pitch that landed the big award.

Each finalist pitched before a panel of judges and a live audience during the competition finale.

Read more about the competition in Yellowhammer News’ original story here.

Judges for this competition round were as follows:

  • James Barnett, People’s Bank, Birmingham
  • Emilie Dover, Rocket City Digital, Huntsville
  • David Gibson, Bell Media (formerly of Zeekee), Birmingham
  • Spencer Lacey, Jemison Investment Company, Birmingham
  • Mart Marasco, BFC Global Services, Birmingham

Angela Wier, vice president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), presented the respective checks to the two winners and wished them continued success. Wier also encouraged the startups that did not receive funding to work on feedback from the judges and apply for the competition again.

Also in attendance were Eddie Postell of the Alabama Department of Commerce, Mayor Larry Chesser of Fort Payne and DeKalb County Commission President Ricky Harcrow. A grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission helped the program reach DeKalb County.

Dr. Bennett D. Tucker, Jr. of the Northeast Alabama Community College emceed the event. Competition judge David Gibson of Bell Media moderated an entrepreneurship panel of Fort Payne-based companies, including Silvia Hernandez (founder of Go Play Therapy) and Randy McClung (president of Amazing Fruit Products-US).

Since its inception in 2006, Alabama Launchpad has invested over $4.5 million in companies that have created more than 500 jobs and raised over $70 million in follow-on capital and revenue. Alabama Launchpad is the most active early-stage investor in Alabama, according to PitchBook, which tracks the public and private equity markets.

Alabama Launchpad is a public-private partnership made possible through support from the business community, the state’s research universities, the Alabama Research Alliance, the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Now in its 28th year, the non-profit EDPA represents the private sector’s contribution to economic development in Alabama. EDPA is supported by more than 60 partners from across the state and works to attract, retain and grow jobs, while also encouraging innovation through its Alabama Launchpad program.

Read more about the EDPA and its important efforts here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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