ABOVE: The City of Montgomery and Infinitus Energy were recognized for “Outstanding Public-Private Partnership for Innovation” at the Alabama Launchpad Innovation & Entrepreneurship Conference. (Michael Tomberlin/Alabama NewsCenter)
The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) and its Alabama Launchpad program honored innovation and entrepreneurship in the state at an event during Birmingham Innovation Week on Wednesday.
The Alabama Launchpad Innovation & Entrepreneurship Conference at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex recognized established companies and an individual who embodies the entrepreneurial spirit. The event came after Alabama Launchpad awarded $240,000 to four startup companies in the 2015 Launchpad Competition statewide competition.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield joined other elected officials, economic developers, business leaders and students from Hoover High School along with higher education leaders at the conference.
Mark Crosswhite, CEO of Alabama Power and chairman of the Birmingham Business Alliance, introduced Bentley and noted recent economic development successes such as Airbus in Mobile and Kamtek’s $530 million expansion in Birmingham.
Bentley said those are two examples of the kind of success the state has enjoyed. Recruitment and retention are two of the three elements that make up the state’s “three-legged stool” in the Accelerate Alabama economic development master plan. The third leg is renewal, which Bentley guesses may have been just made up by the plan’s creators because it starts with an “R.”
Bentley said “renewal” can represent the innovation and entrepreneurship that is created by Alabamians. Turning notions into jobs is a key component to the state’s economic development, he said.
“Some of those jobs just came out of people’s heads,” Bentley said. “They are just ideas.”
Those ideas can turn into businesses, often with help from programs like Alabama Launchpad. “Every major company in the world started out as a small business,” Bentley said.
While recruiting automakers, Airbus and other foreign investment will continue to be a major component to the state’s economic development, cultivating new business from within the state should remain a top priority, the governor said.
“We don’t want to just import companies, we want to grow our own. We’ve got great minds in this state,” he said. “We need to be helping Alabamians. We need to make Alabama great.”
Bentley joined Crosswhite and EDPA CEO Bill Taylor onstage with other officials to present innovation awards to companies and an individual award for lifetime achievement.
Each honoree was presented with pottery crafted by Black Belt Treasures artist Sam Williams in Camden.
Integrated Medical Systems International Inc. in Birmingham as “Corporate Innovator of the Year” for a large company with more than 50 employees. IMS is recognized by the healthcare industry as the leader for instrument-ready solutions that ensure patient safety and surgeon satisfaction.
Emergency CallWorks Inc. in Birmingham as “Corporate Innovator of the Year” for a small company with up to 50 employees. Emergency CallWorks is a leading provider of next-generation 911 and emergency incident management software for the public safety industry.
To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. in Bullock County for “Outstanding Achievement in Innovation Manufacturing.” The world’s leader in sprouted organic flour, the company has grown from sprouting in mason jars to using equipment to handle 70,000 pounds of production a week.
The City of Montgomery and Infinitus Energy for “Outstanding Public-Private Partnership for Innovation.” The partnership has revolutionized recycling in the city through Infinitus Energy’s advanced waste process system.
Gary York, a “serial entrepreneur” in Birmingham was presented the “Lifetime Achievement in Innovation” award for three successful technology companies under his direction that have enhanced routine outpatient healthcare, increased physical productivity and improved hospital profitability. York also routinely helps others start and nurture their own ideas into businesses.
Videos courtesy of EDPA/Alabama Launchpad.