EDPA’s Alabama Launchpad presents Innovation Awards, celebrates entrepreneurship from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.
Andrew Yang, founder and CEO of Venture for America, said during his keynote address that Birmingham is the best-kept secret in the innovation and entrepreneurship world because of the level of support and activity he has witnessed in the Magic City.
“It’s phenomenal to see the energy and spirit of entrepreneurship really coming into its own here in Birmingham,” Yang said.
Venture for America, or VFA, works with existing innovation companies and startups by offering fellowships to recent college graduates to help them learn what it takes to start their own company or carry an innovative idea through to fruition.
Yang introduced 10 of the fellows working at Birmingham area businesses. They have been in Birmingham ranging from a couple of weeks to a couple of years.
“They had the same experience that me and the team had, which is when they come to Birmingham, they feel it’s like this incredible secret and then they can’t wait to share the secret with their friends and colleagues,” Yang said. “They come and they’re blown away by what they find here in terms of the companies and the entrepreneurs.”
Yang showed the trailer of the “Generation Start Up” documentary that focuses on VFA’s efforts. He hopes to have a screening of the film in Birmingham soon.
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said innovation is a key economic driver in the state and while a startup may not employ thousands like an auto plant, it creates a culture of success that can improve lives and amplify the possibilities that exist in the state.
Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite, chairman of EDPA, noting the 500 people in attendance, said business and civic leaders see innovation as something worth supporting and nurturing.
The focus of the event was the sixth annual Innovation Awards. The awards themselves were glass sculptures created by Amy Soverow of Soverow Glass Studio for the event, which Tom Stanton, CEO of Adtran, handed out.
This year, EDPA recognized:
Corporate Innovator of the Year (small company, with less than 50 employees) was IllumiCare, a Birmingham company that created a nonintrusive ribbon of information that hovers over a hospital’s electronic medical record to give physicians real-time, patient-specific cost and risk data.
Outstanding Public-Private Partnership for Innovation went to HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and iCubate Inc. in Huntsville. ICubate is a privately held molecular diagnostic company with a test to identify bacteria such as staphylococcus. The company is housed in the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a nonprofit dedicated to innovation in genomic technology and sciences.
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