Alabama Innovation Awards honor success stories across state

Alabama Innovation Awards honor success stories across state
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a longtime leader in innovation for Alabama, is among this year's recipients of the Alabama Innovation Awards. (HudsonAlpha)

Companies across Alabama, including medical researchers, shipbuilders and a media mogul, are being honored for their commitment to innovation.

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama will present the 2016 Alabama Innovation Awards next week during the sixth annual Alabama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference in Birmingham.

All of the recipients were selected because they showed significant achievement in job creation and a commitment to innovation that addresses a specific need.

EDPA Vice President Angela Wier
EDPA Vice President Angela Wier

This is the third year for the awards, and the decisions are getting tougher, said Angela Wier, EDPA vice president.

“Many Alabama companies know how essential innovation is to their sustainability, and the awards have provided a way for them to showcase their successes,” she said. “We were awed by so many of the applicants this year and are excited to present the winners on Aug. 30.”

Success stories

While the award winners represent a wide range of industries, they share common traits, she said. They are all people who exude passion, energy, creativity and determination.

“Every winner has a success story where innovation had a large impact on their company, or their industry, or customers. Often people think innovation must involve research or technology. The Alabama Innovation Awards take a broader view. Innovation can occur in any industry or community, and the awards are helping us celebrate the great stories of each winner,” Wier said.

Ashok Singhal
Ashok Singhal, founder and chairman of CFD Research

The winners include CFD Research Corp. of Huntsville, which develops software, hardware concepts, designs and prototypes for the aerospace, defense, biomedical, life science and energy industries, among others.

The firm spun out a new biotechnology company, SynVivo, which has developed a disruptive technology to revolutionize drug discovery and personalized medicine.

“I am proud that CFDRC, its associates and partners were recognized by EDPA for this prestigious award,” said Dr. Ashok Singhal, the company’s founder and chairman. “When we founded this company in 1987, innovation was at the heart of our values and the results have shown with over 65 patents, 20-plus technology transitions and two corporate spinouts, including SynVivo.”

Award winners

CFD Research Corp. is being recognized as the large company Corporate Innovator of the Year. Other award winners are:

  • Small company Corporate Innovator of the Year: Birmingham-based IllumiCare provides a nonintrusive ribbon of information that hovers over a hospital’s electronic medical record, giving physicians real-time, patient-specific cost and patient risk data. IllumiCare helps hospitals improve clinical and financial outcomes.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Manufacturing: Horizon Shipbuilding, a Bayou La Batre shipyard, is being recognized for its Gordhead collaboration software that aims to revolutionize the way shipbuilders and other manufacturers conduct business. The company is working to improve communication by sharing problems and quickly arriving at collaborative solutions.
  • HudsonAlpha’s work focuses on genomics to discover more effective medical treatments and early diagnoses. (HudsonAlpha)
    HudsonAlpha’s work focuses on genomics to discover more effective medical treatments and early diagnoses. (HudsonAlpha)

    Outstanding Public-Private Partnership for Innovation: Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and iCubate Inc., also of Huntsville, are the winners here. iCubate is a privately held molecular diagnostic company with a test that would identify gram-positive bacteria such as staphylococcus, which are common bacterial blood contaminants. The company is housed in HudsonAlpha, a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological challenges.

  • Lifetime Achievement in Innovation: Joel Anderson of Florence, chairman of Anderson Cos., which includes Books-A-Million, TNT Fireworks and Anderson Media Corp. Anderson is being honored for his major influence on Florence-area startups, as well as industries nationally and internationally, including pyrotechnics and wholesale distribution industries. He was an innovator in the use of computer technology in the magazine and book distribution business and is credited in making consumer fireworks safer through the American Fireworks Standards Laboratories.


Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield

“This is an impressive list of award winners, and it shows the priority that our companies are placing on innovation,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“From advanced manufacturing operations in factories to groundbreaking research in the lab, members of Alabama’s business community are making great strides in transforming their own particular industries.”

Expanding foundation

There is a growing voice for the importance of innovation in the future of Alabama’s economy, Wier said.

“Communities are starting to connect efforts to support entrepreneurs, to organize capital and mentoring networks for the earliest stage companies, and to celebrate achievements,” she said. “Alabama has a very strong base of research capacity, and the universities and research institutes are focusing more on building cultures and support mechanisms to move promising innovations out of the research labs and into development.”

More work lies ahead, but the state has a strong foundation to build on, Wier added.

“It is an exciting time for innovation in Alabama,” she said.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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